How to make sure that a download on the Internet is safe before downloading the file

Surfing the Internet and not see in the need to download any file, perhaps of dubious origin, is virtually impossible. While there are people who download anything without thinking twice, some have a bit more common sense than that, and is limited to download content from trusted sources, or at least scan the files with your antivirus before installing or open them.

Now, how to know if a file is safe before pressing the download button? We can respond to this in several ways, and we offer solutions that range from the simplest to the most complicated, depending on your needs.

Use VirusTotal

VirusTotal is well-known. It is one of the largest databases of computer virus analysis. When it was just a small company from Malaga, it was bought by Google and has become one of the most efficient, simple and reliable ways to scan online files for malware.

Using VirusTotal is incredibly easy. You only go to the web, you choose the URL option, and there you paste the link to the file you want to download. This is very simple, look for the link or download button on the web where the content you want is located, right click on it, and then copy the link’s address.

Paste that address in VirusTotal and press search to get your results. The tool will check your file with the databases of 64 different antivirus engines. It will offer you other details, and also an assessment of the community.

The URL does not even have to be direct to the file, you can paste the address of any download website and see what results it throws. In some cases, a URL may offer positive results in only a few of the 64 engines.

This does not necessarily mean that it is a false positive, the best thing you can do is to be careful, and choose to download files that do not make a single alarm jump. It is always preferable to prevent.

Use an extension for the browser

From the same VirusTotal there are extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. This lets you scan files in a click from the browser’s contextual menu.

But, VirusTotal is not the only option. You can also try the Metadefender extension of which we have spoken before. Metadefender allows you to search for malware in the files you want to download by scanning them with more than 40 antivirus engines.

Installing the extension will allow you to scan a link to a file before downloading it. But it has to be a direct link to the content, otherwise it will not work.

Use a virtual machine

Finally, one of the best ways to check if a download contains any malicious element, is to download it into a virtual machine. It is a controlled environment within its own container completely separated from your operating system, and, most important of all: it is disposable. Also, you can create another one in a few minutes.

Within a virtual machine you do not have to worry about downloading the file and even installing it before checking if it has malware or not. So it’s a great way to try things without fear of breaking anything.

Those who are fans of downloading cracks and supposedly harmless activators but that are always marked as malware by commercial antivirus, can check the consequences by running one on a virtual machine.

So when you get infected with that Kmspico that fills your desktop with strange shortcuts and the porn popup browser, at least it will not be on your main computer. It is also a good way to check files downloaded via torrent. You can scan them with your antivirus of choice within the virtual machine.

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