Free virus removal tool: 27% found malware missed by existing anti-virus

Filed Under: Featured, Malware

Sophos free Virus Removal ToolA few months ago, Naked Security announced the launch of a free Virus Removal tool from Sophos. To date, this free tool has been downloaded by 150,000 users.

Naked Security readers (that's you) were also invited to share their thoughts - good and bad - on the tool. We received a glut of valuable feedback, which has helped guide Sophos developers on how to prioritise enhancements and bug fixes.

The most surprising feedback we collated was that a whopping 27% of you said Sophos's free virus scanner found malicious files, and this is despite almost all of you running an existing anti-virus.

The good news is that 96% of you said it was Easy to download and use, and 90% said it was Super easy to run and understand the results.

But the development team does want to improve the following number: while 57% said you found it better than other virus removal tools, 30% said it was the same or worse.

Sophos's aim is, to put it politely, beat everyone else's efforts hands down, so they want to knuckle down and make further improvements.

The top three issues readers fed back to Sophos were

  • Speed up scanning time
  • Improve malware clean-up
  • Incorporate auto-update capabilities

Yesterday, Sophos released an update to the Sophos Virus Removal Tool. SophosLabs Product Manager Shai Gelbaum says:

The user feedback was tremendously useful. We optimised the scanning time, and most users should see a 20% improvement in speed. We also focused in on better malware cleanup capabilities. Clean-up failures were largely due to coding glitches. We combed through it and fixed as many as we could find.

Our next release, scheduled for September this year, will include an auto-updater. This is not a trivial add-on. We would have loved to have put it in this version but there simply wasn't enough time. The auto-updater will ensure you are running the very latest version with the latest detection and clean-up capabilities. We are also improving the user interface to better inform users on on what is happening, what is found, etc during each scan.

A big thank you to everyone who gave us feedback. Please keep it coming. It is a beacon for us in the R&D team, and I can assure you that we are all ears.

Until the auto-update version of this tool is available in September, we would urge you to download the latest version:

And please consider giving us your thoughts on this version:

NOTE: Congratulations to Mike from Australia and Anthony from America for winning the first round of goody bags.

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15 Responses to Free virus removal tool: 27% found malware missed by existing anti-virus

  1. stels88 · 1170 days ago

    that tool can used to remove malware from websites?

  2. Chuck · 1170 days ago

    It's a great service you folks provide with the free anti-bug tools, but it appears this new update isn't for Macs. True? Coming soon?

  3. MikeP · 1170 days ago

    I have the earlier version already and this new version has an installer that detects but will not replace the earlier one. So I have to 'manually' remove it using 'Add/Remove Programs'. It would be far better for the new version's installer routine to detect and remove any earlier version, with user permission of course, before then installing the newest version. Much more user friendly way of doing things.

  4. Anne · 1170 days ago

    Is there a Mac version ?

  5. roy jones jr · 1170 days ago

    I don't really care how long it takes to scan my system (the longer it takes means its working hard to find any problems). Your free anti-virus did find a trojan (Mal-Gen) on my PC that kaspersky didn't find at the time (normally kaspersky would have just deleted the entire folder :P). I agree with the inclusion of a auto-update that would also list what is being installed like windows does (definition libraries, virus lists, etc.) so we have more piece of mind. As for the clean up, I'd rather a deletion of the file and the folder for first action. That way something else can't creep into the same folder.

  6. anonymousH7 · 1170 days ago

    Thank You :-)

  7. Dan · 1169 days ago

    I have to wonder how many of the 27% were using actual security software (as opposed to fake anti-virus, other not-so-good freeware, or expired security software no longer receiving updates)...

    I had the same issue as MikeP (will not update - manual removal and download required). I'm running Win7 Pro 64 bit.

    Scanning took rediculously long.

    Sophos didn't find anything on my PC.

    Is safe mode scanning available? I hadn't tried it.

    It would be a great feature if you could manage scanning across the network, including smartphones (using the smartphone app).

    That's my two cents :^)

    • Shai Gelbaum · 1169 days ago

      I decided not to fix the uninstall reinstall issue as we are adding a self updater and I wanted the team to focus on that and get it done as soon as possible.

      Right now we don't support installing in safe mode, as most malware now runs fine in safe mode, we are going to add it in one of the upcoming releases.

      For scanning across the network we have another tool you might want to look at which is also free:
      Network Security Scan

  8. I did not liked Sophos scanner too much. And this is interface issue mostly ( Sophos does good work with detection ).
    1. No update for me too.
    2. Too long scan (left overnight), no scan options.
    3. It found several malware in my samples or deleted that I had not bothered to zip (for malware research purposes). No surprises there.

    4. It does not provides list of malware detected while scan is running AND when scan is aborted (It should show the list of infected and detected items till scan aborted).

    Thats my 2c.

  9. Hasan · 1168 days ago

    Sophos is leader :)
    Also thank you SophosLabs!!

    I can't wait for auto-update version of Sophos FreeVRT :-*

  10. blingedup · 1167 days ago

    I have Microsoft Security Essentials on my laptop currently. Would I need to uninstall or disable this to run Sophos?

  11. caroletheriault · 1164 days ago

    HI - you can visit for a free mac anti-virus for home use.

  12. roy jones jr · 1159 days ago

    You can run the Sophos scan without uninstalling your primary anti-virus.

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About the author

Hi. I am a social, brand and communications expert with 10 years in senior roles in the tech space. I'm currently Sophos' s Global Director of Social Media and Communities. Proudest work achievement? Creating and launching award-winning Naked Security. Outside work, I am a mean cook, an avid reader, a chronic insomniac, a podcast obsessive and blogger .