How to Check Downloaded Files and Email Attachments for Malware

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In my previous post I repeatedly emphasized the need to scan every files downloaded from the internet or from email attachments for malware. To do this and not waste time, it’s important to know where to are those files being downloaded.

Create a Downloads Folder

To create a downloads folder right-click with your mouse on your desktop, or in any other location, and select New > Folder. Then give the new folder a name.

Alternatively, you can use the Downloads folder already created by your Windows installation. The Downloads folder is located at C:\Users\Your_User_Name\Downloads. To make access to this folder faster, create a shortcut to it on your Desktop. Drag the folder to your Desktop using your mouse’s right click and when you drop the folder select Create shortcuts here.

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Customize Start menu downloads

You can also enable the Downloads item in your Start Menu. To do this right-click with your mouse on your Windows Taskbar and select Properties.

Click the Start Menu tab in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window. Click on the Customize… button in the upper-right corner of the tab.

Scroll down to the Downloads section in the Customize Start Menu window and tick Display as menu item.

Click OK, Apply and OK again to save your settings. Now your Downloads folder will be accessible from the Start Menu.

Point Email Clients and Browsers to Downloads Folder

Some email clients and browsers remember the last choice you make when downloading files, some do not.

In Mozilla Firefox click on the ≡ hamburger icon next to the address bar. In the drop-down menu click Options. Within the Options window click on the General tab.

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Mozilla Firefox downloads

Now click on the Browse… button in the Downloads section and select your Downloads folder. Click OK to save your settings.

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Google Chrome downloads

In Google Chrome click on the ≡ hamburger icon next to the address bar. In the drop-down menu click Settings. Then click Show advanced settings… at the bottom of the page. Then scroll down to the Downloads section and click on the Change… button to select your Downloads folder’s location.

The process of setting up the correct downloads folder in email clients or browsers is usually a slight variation of the same shown in the above examples.

Scan Downloaded Files

Now that you know exactly where all downloaded files get placed, you can access them in a one or two clicks and scan them.

Use your installed and up-to-date anti-malware tools to scan all files downloaded into your downloads folder.

In case of smaller suspicious files (up to 64MB of size) you can also use VirusTotal.com. It is a free service provided by Google that will check any uploaded file with more than 50 different anti-malware scanners. This way the probability that a malware gets by home scanners is reduced considerably. Although it’s a handy tool it is not a replacement for multiple anti-malware programs running on your own computer.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you found this tutorial helpful. Let me know in the comments section below.

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