Free Malware Removal Software 2017: The Best Online Tools

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Best online tools - Free malware removal software

By now most of you are aware that it is essential to use antivirus software with real-time protection and heuristic analysis to prevent viruses, malware, ransomware, and other attacks.

There is no reason not to stay safe with all the free antivirus software out there and the selection of antivirus providers to choose from.

Best online tools - Free malware removal software

Free malware removal software - Best online tools

But:

Even the top antivirus software cannot be 100% foolproof if a PC or device was already compromised by malware.

What do I mean?

Some malware can get onto your network, someone can personally place it there, and some malware lays dormant in a system and waits to attack at the opportune time. 

This malware may not have been detected before you installed the antivirus protection software, which means that users sometimes don't get the chance to remove it with a malware removal tool before.

It is also hard for an antivirus program to pick up on every single type of malware or phishing scheme that tricks one into downloading a link or attachment to infect a system. There are even some rogue programs designed to look like anti-spyware or an antivirus program.

The tricky part about malware is that it disguises itself as a legitimate program so that users are bound to install it.

This is were free malware removal tools come into play!

The most formidable team you can get is a free virus removal tool working alongside antivirus protection programs because malware removal scanners can pick up on viruses that antivirus software cannot.

Another important thing to note is that a system must be clean before an antivirus program is installed, and this is what free malware scanners are there for: to scan and remove infections!

Let's delve deeper into the world of malware removal and discover the best free malware removal providers out there.

Article Index

What is Malware Removal: How Does it Work?

Some of you may want to know the ins and outs behind this kind of technology and what makes it different from antivirus software.

After all, don't antivirus software have real-time protection and scanners?

Here is a summary of what malware scanning and removal entails:

Malware removal tools are built especially to detect different kinds of malware, while antivirus software providers are more concerned will preventing infection than removing it.

There are many kinds of scanners part and parcel of paid and free online antivirus providers, but the two main ones are real-time protection scanners and on-demand scanners.

  1. Real-time antivirus programs constantly run in the background as watch guards for malware, and you can only have one of these installed on your PC at a time.

    Malware removal tools also use real-time protection whereby the software scans all the incoming network data and scans disk files for any threats at download time to block anyone suspicious files or downloads that it comes across.
     
  2. Anti-malware software can be used solely for detection and removal purposes to clean your system of malware that is already installed onto a computer.

    The on-demand scanner has to be activated to search for malware infections and viruses by scanning the contents of operating system files, the Windows registry, any installed programs.

    After the scan, a list appears will all the threats found so the user can decide whether to delete or keep the file, or the user can compare the list to a list of known malware components and remove the files that match any on the list.

The second type is what distinguishes a free malware scanner from real-time protection. A user can have multiple programs running at the same time in order to ensure that if one antivirus program misses a variant of malware, another one will pick it up.

So, malware scanners in essence provide Protection, Cleanup & Removal, and Robust Detection.

Advantages of Free Malware Removal

These are the advantages of free malware removal software and why you should use them:

  • Offers multiple layers of detection
  • A separate (free) tool that is used to clean a system
  • Ensures that malware is eradicated from endpoints
  • Blocks any known malware from being executed in systems
  • Can generally be used at the same time as antivirus providers
  • Protects against new and unknown malware (zero-day exploits)
  • Provides speedy investigation and remediation of suspicious threats

Drawbacks of Free Virus Removal

This is a once-off tool to use before or alongside antivirus software, so there aren't many downsides to this technology.

Here are the possibilities to consider:

  • Lack of scheduling options
  • Large system impact on PC performance 
  • Not all are compatible with all antivirus programs
  • Need to run a few at once because malware developers are constantly creating more sophisticated malware

How Do You Know You've Been Infected by Malware

So now that you know the basics of malware and malware scanners, you're probably wondering what the signs are of an infected system.

How do you know when it's necessary to launch a free malware removal tool? 

Some malware infections are as plain as day while others are stealthy killers; either way, here are some symptoms to look out for:

Some obvious ones

  • Social Media Posts: Your accounts generate fake posts that you didn't write.
  • Warning message: Ransomware message or scary warning from security programs you didn't install.
  • Browser redirects: When you search for a specific page but keep getting redirected to a different site.
  • New Homepage: When you set your homepage to a specific website but another one keeps popping up as the default page.
  • Unwanted Toolbars: These are a row of selectable icons that appear at the top or bottom of a browser window and that you cannot get rid of.
  • Nonstop Pop-ups: This is when you close a pop-up and another one appears immediately afterwards. Sometimes pop-ups can appear without being online. If your screen is loaded with pop-ups, your system most probably has a spyware or adware infection.

Some less obvious symptoms

  • Slow cursor: Cursor responds slowly to mouse movement
  • New icons: These are random programs that suddenly show up on a system or a program a user legitimately downloaded but that was infested with PUPs.
  • Slow computer: If a computer is slow and programs take long to load. First check that it's not because there are too many programs running, there is no more space on the hard drive, or there is little free memory.
  • Frozen web browser: If the internet is sluggish and the web browser freezes or is unresponsive, you might have malware. First check that it isn't just slow WiFi signal or download speeds from the Internet provider.
  • Constant Crashing: Some forms of malware such as rootkits dig deep into the Windows kernel and attack themselves which causes an unstable system. First check that it isn't because there are incompatible programs of software or that the hardware needs updating.
  • Bounced emails: If a lot of your emails keep returning to your inbox your email either you have been hacked to send spam mail to your contact list, or malware sends out emails using the emails it found on the PC. If the "To" address is null and void, then the "From" address, your email, gets the email back.

Mobile infections to look out for are a weak battery life in that it drains very quickly, and another one could be a large phone bill because of messages you didn't send or messages from your mobile provider saying that you purchased apps when you didn't.

However:

Sometimes, it's hard to tell when you're initially infected, or you'll never really know because of botnets that run in the background to steal information without affecting the PC performance. 

This is why you should run regular scans by both an antivirus software and a free malware scanner!

Steps To Remove Malware

There are several easy steps you need to take in order to check your PC for malware.

The best part is that you can do it all by yourself without needing to be a computer whiz! 

There are a few steps you can take before you use a free virus removal tool or free malware scanner.

Listed below are the steps, including the free online malware removal and scanner, for a Windows PC and a Mac OS X operating system.

Windows PC

Try these simple steps and enjoy a malware-free PC.

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode

This step is to help prevent the malware from leaking into or spreading in your private data:

Before you commence with any free virus removal tools or a free malware scanner, you need to disconnect your PC from the Internet and be sure not to connect again until you are ready to clean your PC.

Remove DVDs, CDs and USBs.

Once you have disconnected from the Internet, you need to boot your PC into Safe Mode whereby only the required services and programs are loaded.

Malware executes itself when Windows starts, so entering into Safe Model prevents the malware from loading automatically onto the system.

Windows 7 & 8 have an easy process for booting into Safe Mode, but Windows 10 is more complicated and requires an explanation:

  1. Click the Start Button and choose the Power Button as if you are going to reboot, but don't click anything!
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key and click Reboot. You can hit the F8 button repeatedly as it leads to the menu of Advanced Boot Options.
  3. Select Troubleshooting when the full screen menu pops up. After that choose Advanced Options and then Startup Settings.
  4. Click the RESTART button on the next window and wait for the next screen to appear.
  5. A numbered menu will then appear with startup options; pick NUMBER 4 which is Safe Mode.

Note: If you want to connect to online scanners, which is what this article is about, then you will have to choose NUMBER 5 - Safe Mode with Scanning.

Your PC will noticeably speed up in Safe Mode. It could mean of one two things:

  • Your system is infected with malware
  • You have a lot of legitimate programs installed that usually start up with Windows.

Your PC will be faster if it is outfitted with a state drive.

Step 2: Delete Temporary Files

Your PC is in Safe Mode ready for malware scan; however, before that, you need to delete any temporary files.

Why do you need to do this?

To speed up the scanning process, free up disk space, and possible get rid of some malware.

There is a Disk Cleanup for Windows 10. All you need to do is select the tool named Disk Cleanup after pressing the Start Button, or you can search for it in the search toolbar.

You might also want to backup your documents, files, photos and videos.

However, do not backup program files as they were probably infected. Programs can be re-downloaded!

Step 3: Download an On-Demand Free Malware Scanner

Now you are ready for the most important part: to download and run a free malware scanner.

Reconnect to the Internet to download and install and software and then disconnect again.

Most standard infections can be removed by free malware scanners, but if you already have an antivirus software installed on your PC, make sure to use a different scanner if you are running a specific malware check or removal blitz because the antivirus protection software probably won't detect the malware.

If you suspect that your PC has been infected, I recommend that you run an on-demand scan first and then follow it up with a full scan with a real-time antivirus provider.

Follow the instructions and install the program.

Step 4: Run a Free Malware Scanner

Before you go through Step 5 and 6, read the next section of the Best Free Malware Removal Providers.

This step is to detect the possible malware and to annihilate them!

Step 5: Check

After you restart your PC, run a different malware detection scan to check you're in the all-clear.

Step 6: Fix Your Web Browser

Check that the homepage and connection settings are correct before your launch the web browser. 

To do this enter the Control Panel>Internet Options>General Tab>Home Page Settings.

This is to avoid any malware from modifying your web browser homepage, to prevent the malware from browsing your system or displaying advertisements.

Update any new versions for for your operating system, browser, and applications because malware tends to take advantage of older versions.

Also reset all passwords as the malware could have stolen them.

Step 7: Recover Your Files

If Windows does not work properly or the malware may be hard to remove, you'll have to reinstall Windows.

Copy all the files to an external USB before your wipe out the hard drive. You will also have to,export settings and messages from client programs like Outlook.

Now you can reinstall Windows by downloading the installation image from Microsoft, with the disc that came with your PC, or by activating the PC's factory restoration option if there is one.

Step 8: Keeping Your PC Clean

Now that your PC is nice and clean, make sure that you download an up-to-date real-time antivirus program.

There are plenty of brilliant free antivirus providers out there, so there is no excuse not to be protected!

Don't say I didn't warn you!

You will also need to backup your system and files to prevent losing any important information should another malware attack somehow infiltrate your system.

Run a scan on the backups to make sure no infections were added.

And lastly, keep all your software and Windows version up-to-date.

Mac OS X

In most cases with Mac malware, the malware pretends to be the very tool you want to use to get rid of the malware, as in it masquerades as antivirus or anti-malware software.

Here are some steps you need to undertake before using a free malware removal tool for Mac OS X:

  1. Quit the web browser you are browsing if you get a warning about a virus, or malicious URL or software. If the browser doesn't quit for example after pressing Quit on Safari, then force quit the browser by control clicking the Safari icon and choosing Force-Quit.
  2. After that a user has to go to the Downloads folder and drag any installed files or unrecognizable files into the Trash.
  3. Then the Trash folder needs to be emptied; control click the Trash Icon and select Empty Trash. 

Another process to undertake to remove Mac malware for free if you suspect that you have already installed malware on your Mac is the following:

  1. Check the name of the application if it's open.
  2. Move or close the application window.
  3. Then press Command+SHIFT+U to open the Utilities folder.
  4. Once you're in the Utilities Folder, open up the Activity Monitor and select All Processes.
  5. Launch the Activity Monitor in the Application Folder under the Utilities Folder.
  6. Look for the name of the app from step 1.
  7. Click the Quit Process button on the top left-hand corner and choose Quit.

Best Free Malware Removal Providers

Now we get to the best part!

What are the best free malware removal tools out there?

I have provided a list of the best free malware scanners and tools.

Don't hesitate to pick the one that suits your needs. You might want to consider other paid versions on the providers' sites for further protection, whether it be other malware removal tools or antivirus software.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Anti-Malware Free Scan - Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free Scan

Malwarebytes focuses on zero-day malware detection and removal with its free malware removal tool.

The free Anti-malware scanner and remover​​​ is an excellent software that picks up on and cleans malware that other antivirus providers usually miss.

Users enjoy very short scan times, which is a bonus because malware on-demand scans affect PC performance, effective cleanup and repair, and a easy user interface.

This is a wonderful tool to use alongside antivirus software because it is compatible with most of the providers on the market.


Scan with MalwareBytes


For a detailed look into the free and premium real-time protection version of Anti-Malware, as well as the excellent Anti-Exploit product which is the vulnerability-detection tool Malwarebytes offers, have a look at this detailed Malwarebytes review.

Kaspersky Free Virus Scan

Free Virus Scan - Kaspersky

Kaspersky Free Virus Scan

Kaspersky's free virus scan is worth a download because it's free to download, use, and update.

When you download the tool it installs a scanner and software updater to ensure that your PC's software is kept up-to-date.

The scanner runs quick scans for malware and viruses and sends a full report of any threats found on the PC in order for the user to remove them.

Kaspersky is a house-hold name in the world of cyber security which means that you'll be in good hands with this free tool.


Scan with Kaspersky


To keep your PC or device secured against malware and viruses, it is recommended to upgrade to the Kaspersky Internet Security package. For details on all the products and packages, click on our comprehensive Kaspersky review.

Trend Micro Free HouseCall Online Virus Scan

Free HouseCall Online Virus Scan - Trend Micro

Trend Micro Free HouseCall Online Virus Scan

Trend Micro prides itself on thorough malware detection and removal, and to make things even better, they provide a free online virus scan.

In order to find the Trend Micro free scanner, click the button below to visit their site, scroll down until you reach the footer menu (at the bottom), and under SECURITY SOFTWARE PRODUCTS click on HouseCall.

The HouseCall on-demand scanner is truly at your beck and call with a full and custom scan option, in addition to a quick scan whereby the scanner quickly identifies a wide range of malware threats and reports them.

What makes this free malware scanner worthwhile is the fact that it's easy to use, there are several scan options, it has stand-alone software to eliminate compatibility issues with browser-activated scanners, and it enhances detection and cleanup of rootkits, ransomware, and other sophisticated malware.


Scan with HouseCall


To find out more about the excellent products Trend Micro offers, read this helpful Trend Micro review.

F-Secure Online Scanner

Online Scanner - F-Secure

F-Secure Online Scanner

With F-Secure's Online scanner you can scan and clean your PC for free.

The scanner annihilates malware, viruses, and spyware on your PC, and it works even if you have other antivirus software installed.

The tool is extremely user-friendly, and all you have to do is download and run it. 

To access the free online malware removal tool go to the F-Secure website by clicking the button below and choose from the top menu Free tools > free online scanner.


Scan with F-Secure


F-Secure provides a strong free malware scanner, but there are also other products on offer to protect your PC from future infections and viruses. Give the F-Secure review a read to find out which products to choose from.

Panda Cloud Cleaner

Panda Security Cloud Cleaner

Panda Cloud Cleaner

Panda offers free virus removal with its Panda Cloud Cleaner disinfection tool.

This free malware removal tool uses advanced disinfection technology to perform a deep scan on the system.

The deep scan is based on the collective intelligence, otherwise known as a cloud scan, to remove malware that traditional antivirus software products miss or cannot detect. 

The Cloud Cleaner is easy to install and comes with instructions on the site.

Note: Some PUPs may leave their nasty traces on your system after you run the Cloud Cleaner. Panda warns you about this and instructs you to make sure that the browser shortcuts are clean.

To do so right click on the Browser Shortcut > Properties > Shortcut > Remove the long URL in the Target field.


Scan with Panda


For more information about Panda Security and the home user products it offers, read our Panda review.

Bottom Line

All the information provided in this article about the best free malware removal providers and the steps on how to remove malware with free malware scanners may be a lot to chew on.

Rest assured that you can always consult this guide and consult us with any questions you may have.

After all, the team at FatSecurity.com wants you to be covered from all angles when it comes to malware removal and antivirus protection. 

And lastly, I know I have said this already, but it is vital for me to note that if you do not have any antivirus software downloaded onto your PC at this given moment, then NOW is the time to choose from our best antivirus providers.

By Danielle P

Senior editor, professional writer & researcher

A creative and literary prodigy with an astounding ability to write about anything. While Danielle doesn’t have a vast technical background, her research capabilities are limitless and she can write about anything her heart desires.

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