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Pros And Cons Of Cloud Based/Online Anti-Virus

Image Courtesy : Flickr by FutUndBeidl
It seems like we're living in the cloud world as more and more apps that we use in a day-to-day life are migrating themselves to the cloud these days. Email, chatting, Office solutions, pictures - almost every thing is using cloud-based solutions these days. And even Antiviruses can't be excluded from this list. There are several online or cloud-based antivirus solutions available on the internet that can scan your computer from the internet browser. But, though online antiviruses are useful, they can't replace the Antivirus that resides in your computer hard drive.

Nevertheless, cloud-based antivirus applications offer a number of benefits and can be very useful for quickly scanning a PC for malware. But just don’t make them your only form of protection!

What Are Cloud Based Antiviruses?

If you want to access these cloud based antiviruses, all you need is a browser window and a working internet connection. There are plenty antiviruses available like - BitDefender Quick Scan and ESET Online Sacnner - these are cloud based antiviruses that will serve you well. Some antiviruses will download small .exe files to your computer to run the scan and some will use ActiveX controls to run the virus scanner in the browser window right away.
In the case of ESET Online Scanner - it will prompt you to download the .exe file to carry out the quick scan on your PC. Bitdefender QuickScan installs a browser extension.

After you launch the cloud-based antivirus, it will scan your system for potential threats and alert you to them. Depending on the cloud-based antivirus, it may not remove viruses it finds, or it may only perform a quick scan for viruses and other malware, not an in-depth one.

Lack Of Real-Time Scanning

The biggest drawback of the online antivirus is its inability to monitor your PC in real-time. Though some people might feel that the online security is the one and only threat nowadays and preventing viruses penetrating in their PC through Internet will assure the full security to their computer, then I'm afraid you're wrong here. There are plenty different threats - Viruses, Trojans or Spywares - that have ability to penetrate through the USB drives and damage your computer big time. So it's always advisable to use a well-known native Antivirus on your PC that supports Real-time scanning to help you detect and prevent from such threats. 

If you are thinking cloud antiviruses as the one and only protection method to prevent your computer from threats, then I advise you to think twice before making such decision only due to the reason explain above - Lack of Real-Time Scanning.

Some Other Limitations of Cloud Antiviruses

Some online antiviruses don’t even perform the functions you might expect from an antivirus. For example, ESET Online Scanner can scan your entire system for malware and quarantine it. However, Bitdefender QuickScan just scans your system’s startup files and memory for viruses – it doesn’t look for dormant viruses hiding elsewhere on your system. If Bitdefender QuickScan finds a virus, it won’t remove it for you – it will recommend you download a full Bitdefender product to remove the virus.

Though There are Some Benefits Too!

Even though Online Virus Scanning Tools might not fancy their chance to be your primary antivirus, there lies some benefits of them that are worth mentioning here.

  • Quick Scanning : Even though it's named as "Quick Scan", the Quick Scan from our native antivirus can take ages if you've lot of stuff loaded on your computer. The Online Antiviruses wins the race here as they scans quickly using the shared Cloud resources that uses robust hardware. So the scan time will always remain low compared to the native Antivirus.
  • Great Second Option : As they are speedy, when we've hardly any time to perform a quick scan on our PC, these Online Antiviruses comes in handy. As they are lightening quick, it'll definitely respond quicker than its native counterpart which lies in your machine with less quicker resources!
  • Always Up-To-Date : As they are hosted on cloud, one would imagine them to be up-to-date with the latest virus definitions that can really help you detect the newer threat that can easily give a slip to your not-so up-to-date native antivirus.

Some people might think how they can use both antiviruses at the same time? Well, there may occur some conflict if you use two antiviruses on a same PC, which they share the resources which results in a conflict. But in the case of Online Antiviruses, as it uses the resources from cloud, there is no reason to worry about any sought of conflict in here!


As there are more robust and feature rich antiviruses available for free for your PC, there is no need to treat the cloud based antivirus as your primary antivirus. There are quite a few Antiviruses that are available for free like Microsoft Security Essentials (my personal favorite), avast! and AVG.

Though there is always good to have a option or two, especially when you're stuck in the worst case scenario, these Online Antiviruses will always come to the rescue!

Rajat Patel

Rajat Patel

Founder at TheNextGeek.com. Software Engineer & Business Analyst by profession. Avid open source evangelist. Mostly writes about Technology that interests him, and some neat tricks to make your day-to-day tech life a breeze.

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