How to Scan and Remove Viruses for Free

By Elvis Michael

Updated September 15, 2017

Prominent virus removal suites can prove expensive, many of them requiring yearly subscriptions to maintain your computer free of infections. However, applications that act solely as virus removal utilities are typically available for free. While these generally lack robust feature sets such as phishing- and firewall-protection, they offer reliable virus detection and removal rates.

Download one of many free anti-virus offerings available on the Web, including Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira Antivir Personal and AVG.

Close all open applications, then launch the program's installation file. Follow all instructions displayed on the screen; if possible, use the predefined options already selected for you.

Launch the application through the Start menu or by clicking its desktop shortcut. Update it through its main user interface, which helps increase its detection and success rate. If such an option is not immediately available, browse for terms such as “Update” or “Definition Files” from the main menu options.

Select the scanning procedure you wish to run from the main user interface. A Quick Scan inspects crucial system files; a Full Scan searches all available disk drives and folders, while a Custom Scan allows you to select which sources you wish to inspect.

Click the main “Scan” button typically available from the main window or interface. Allow the program to find and remove all detected viruses on your computer. If any infection is not removed automatically, select to remove it manually using the list of options provided.


Keep your operating system up-to-date to help prevent potential threats; click the Start button, highlight "All Programs" and launch the Windows Update applet. Use an alternative anti-virus program if your primary one does not remove all active infections. While most programs scan suspicious files automatically, you can also scan files like email attachments and downloads manually. Right-click the file in question and select the main "Scan" option from the context menu, if applicable.


Refrain from using multiple anti-virus programs simultaneously to avoid system conflicts and performance-related issues. Instead, uninstall the primary program before installing a new one.