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It's important that everyone be made aware of an extremely useful Web site that delivers malware and antivirus scanning right to the door of your... er. Web browser. I not only use it at Maximum PC to check the freeware files and such that I link to on a weekly basis, but I also turn to it as the first resort whenever I'm on a system that, for whatever reason, lacks a comprehensive virus-scanning setup.
Simply put, it's hard to envision a world without Virustotal. Although there have been reports and/or instances of false positives arising from some of the lesser-known third-party antivirus tools that Virustotal uses, it's pretty safe to say that your file is safe should it come up with "0 issues found" when running the gauntlet of the site's 41 different antivirus and malware scanning applications.
With so much going on behind the hood, using Virustotal to check your downloads must be a real nightmare, eh? Spoiler alert: It's super-easy. Just surf on over to the main Virustotal site and upload a file straight from your computer to the site. Keep in mind that super-large files will not only take awhile to upload depending on your connection, but they'll take even longer to scan. That's all you really have to do, however.
Once Virustotal has analyzed your file, it'll spit back a detailed results page showing you what virus/malware scanners flagged the file, if any, and what exactly it is they were reported to have found. You can save the URL of this report for future viewing, in case you need to prove to a friend that the "awesomegame.zip" file they sent you was actually full of digital evil incarnate.
Check out the other awesome tools you can use to keep your computer as safe and secure as a warm blanket:
Every Thursday, Maximum PC picks a new Web App as its favorite of the week. Have a Web App that you can't live without? Twitter David Murphy @acererak with your latest suggestions.