Say you have received a suspicious looking file as an email attachment that may or may not be infected with a virus.

If that email is from some unknown source, you are very likely to delete it immediately but what do you do if that file attachment has come from a friend or a trusted colleague ?

Simple, use email. Here’s what you can do to make sure that the attached file is safe and won’t harm your computer:

1. Forward that email message with the file attachment intact to scan@virustotal.com (limit is 10 MB)

2. Write SCAN in the Subject field of the forwarded message and delete the full body of the message. Send.

3. You should receive a virus report in the next few minutes.

The advantage of using Virustotal is that it doesn’t require you to download the file attachment to your computer and best of all, it scans your file across multiple antivirus software including AVG, Nod32, McAfee, F-Prot, etc so the chances are very high that infected email attachments will never go undetected.

If you have a file on the hard drive, upload that to virustotal.com via web browser and wait as this free service analyzes your file using different antivirus services.

Gmail doesn’t allow executable file attachments (including .bat, .exe, .pif, .scr, .vbs, .cmd, .com and others) so here’s a workaround – Send Any File Type with GMail.

Remember that VirusTotal will only detect the virus in your files, it won’t clean the infected files. For cleaning, refer to a previous story – The Best Anti Virus Software (online).