How to Make Sure Your Downloaded Files are Safe Before Installing

Have you ever downloaded and installed a file from the Internet and realized it had a Virus and suddenly your PC is infected? Here we’ll take a look at precautions you can take to make sure they are Virus-free before installing.

1. With the advancement of anti-virus programs today, usually they have Real-time scanning so hopefully a virus with malicious software will be discovered right away. Like in this example, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) wouldn’t even let us download the file. A warning message will come up and you can clean the file right away or get more details on it.


2. Getting advanced details are for experienced users, as sometimes you might get a false positive on a known safe program. From here you can Remove, Quarantine, or allow the file through.


3. We went ahead and set MSE to remove the file, and you’ll see the progress of the removal while it takes place.


4. Success! The virus has been removed and we have a healthy computer.


5. If you’re Anti-virus program’s Real-time protection doesn’t find anything you might not be sure about the file. Another solution is to right-click on the file in question and select to scan it with your Anti-virus program. For this article we’re using Microsoft Security Essentials, but if you’re using a modern Anti-virus program, chances are it will integrate into the context menu and allow you to scan an individual file.


6. Luckily the scan of this zipped file didn’t find anything. This method is a lot faster than doing a complete system scan…just keep in mind large files may take several minutes for the scan to complete.


7. If that isn’t enough, another free program to use is the VirusTotal Uploader (under the VT Uploader tab). Installation is quick and easy following the defaults.


8. VirusTotal also integrates into the Context Menu via the Send to option.


9. It then uploads the file to the VirusTotal website and scans it with 43 different Anti-virus applications…some you’ve heard of and some you may not be familiar with.


10. Your default browser opens to the VirusTotal site for you to review a list of results. A couple of caveats is it sometimes provides false positives, so definitely use your best judgment before continuing with installation. When in doubt don’t install a suspect program and do research on Google for it. Also, there is a 20MB limit for files you can run against it’s database of Anti-virus programs.


11. If you don’t want to use the desktop app, you can go directly to the VirusTotal website and upload a file as well.


12. The file will be uploaded, scanned, and after it’s complete you’ll get the results just like with the desktop app.


13. For best results, make sure whatever Anti-virus solution you’re running has up to date definitions, Real-Time scanning is enabled, and you have it scheduled to run at least once a week. Perhaps even everyday if your young ones are using the computer.


If you want to make sure you’re system stays free of malicious software, these tools and tips should definitely help you out. Of course the most important precaution is to use common sense…especially if you’re getting files from P2P or BitTorrent or certain NSFW (Not Safe for Work) sites.

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