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How to test if your anti-virus is working on Windows [Guide]

computer_security [1]If your system were to somehow get infected with malware, one of the first things that malicious code does is to try and disable the anti-virus scanner. It may also attempt to modify the HOSTS file, so as to tamper with the anti-virus definition update process. Most popular modern-day anti-virus programs offer real-time protection against potentially malicious software and will throw up a prompt warning you of detection and recommended actions if you download an infected file.

But what if the system is already infected and your anti-virus rendered ineffective — and you don’t know about it? In that case, you would never know what’s getting into your system or the fact that you are already infected, would you? Here’s a quick tip that will help you check whether your anti-virus is working or not.

Please take note, this is a simple test that does not evaluate the effectiveness of your anti-virus — it evaluates if your anti-virus is working and is not disabled. In other words, this test won’t tell you how well your anti-virus blocks malicious files; it tells you if your anti-virus has not been disabled.

How To Test If Your Anti-Virus Is Working on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1

To test if your anti-virus is working, do the following:


Test anti virus [2]

For those that are curious, the file that you created earlier is called an EICAR test file, where EICAR stands for European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research. EICAR is a non-malicious string of code that most antivirus programs include in their signature definitions, thus by creating it we can test if anti-virus is enabled or disabled.


If you don’t see the anti-virus alert, it could mean that your anti-virus has either been turned off or is compromised somehow. Either way, you should play it safe, update your virus definitions and run a full system scan to locate potential threats, if any. You may need to take other measures, too, like using an anti-virus boot disc to clean out your computer.