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Four reasons to run a manual antivirus scan

By Reason Cybersecurity

on Sun Mar 01 2020

Ever notice how many different types and names there are for antivirus scans? There are real-time scans, full-system scans, quick scans (aka smart scans, fast scans, and hyper scans), scheduled scans, custom scans, boot scans, and network scans. Of course, there’s also the manual scan, but with all these different scan options, we might wonder whether a manual scan is really ever needed. As it turns out, it is. In fact, there are actually very specific reasons to run manual scans. They are described below.

When to run a manual scan:

  1. If your computer is running slowly or exhibiting suspicious behavior. Although antivirus software are really good at detecting and neutralizing malware, given the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape, it’s always possible for malware to slip by undetected. For example, there may be some malware hidden in executable files that were missed by the first scan because you didn’t have the latest signature database update when the scan was performed. The smart move, therefore, is to perform a manual scan whenever your system is exhibiting suspicious behavior.
  2. After restoring any data from backup. Always run a manual scan on back-up data just after restoring it to make sure there are no viruses that can spread to your system and files. By executing a manual virus scan just after the restore, you can catch and clean your files before they infect your data or files.
  3. To get a “second opinion”. Generally speaking, one antivirus software provides enough protection. However, if you prefer to get a “second opinion” and use a second antivirus too, make sure the second scan is done manually to avoid conflict between different antivirus software running in the background.
  4. To prevent viruses caused by human error. Did you know that one quarter of all data breaches last year were caused by human error? Actually, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise since there are so many ways that human error can expose vulnerabilities and introduce viruses. For example, computers can be infected when someone downloads a file from a site that isn’t trustworthy, plugs in an infected USB, or ignores an update notification to update the antivirus software with the latest virus signature database, or other software with a patch update. Since the threat landscape is always changing, and since antivirus software, while highly effective, is not always foolproof, occasionally running a manual scan to prevent viruses from being introduced by human error, is highly recommended.

Good to know

While there’s no harm in doing so (other than some lost time), there’s no need to run a manual scan just after you’ve installed a new antivirus. Once installed, the antivirus will execute a full system scan automatically and report and remove any malware detected. It’s also unnecessary to run manual scans on compressed files or after installing browsers since the antivirus also automatically checks for malware in both cases.

Better safe than sorry

For the most part, you can just ignore your antivirus as it works in the background without any interference from you and it will do its job extremely well. Nevertheless, if ever the ‘better safe than sorry’ axiom applied, it’s here, when it comes to keeping your computers safe from malware and hackers. As it turns out, there are very specific reasons as well as the human-error factor that make running manual scans not only a wise but a necessary component of good cyber hygiene.