Free Anti-virus Programs
Trend Micro, based in Tokyo, is one of the big names in cybersecurity, known largely for providing robust network security for companies.
In spite of their business-oriented reputation, they do also offer a few services for use on home computers.
The most prominent of these is appropriately called HouseCall: Free Online Security Scan (formerly known as Free Online Virus Scan) and is available for all versions of Windows from Windows XP to Windows 10. You can also download it for Mac and Android.
So, HouseCall is free to use and from a popular company, but is it any good?
Let's begin with its features.
With the free HouseCall program, you'll get:
HouseCall is very easy to install. In fact, you don't even really need to install it - you just download the file from the TrendMicro website, click run, and let it go.
If you're using Windows, be sure to get the appropriate version based on whether your operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit. If you're not sure which you have, we'll help you find out.
First, press Windows button + i on your keyboard.
Then, click System, followed by About on the left sidebar. You should be able to see your specifications next to "System type."
Once the program is installed, you're ready to start running scans.
HouseCall is very easy to navigate. All you have to do is choose Quick, Full, or Custom Scan, and then click on Scan Now. After initiating a scan, you sit back and relax.
Unfortunately, there is no timer giving you an estimate of how long each scan will take, so you'll simply have to guess.
Once the scan is completed, detected threats will be listed. You can select the action you want to take for each one - for example, "Ignore" or "Fix" - then click "Fix Now" to repair your computer.
HouseCall: Free Online Security Scan only runs when you choose to initiate a scan. Of course, it's useful for finding malware, but you should also be using an antivirus program that's running constantly in the background. This way you'll be informed immediately if any malware pops up.
Quick scan will investigate critical files, while Full scan will go through everything to make sure no malware is hiding on your computer. Quick scan may take 15 to 30 minutes, while Full scan will take a couple of hours.
It's worth noting that many users have noticed that HouseCall seems to take a very long time to scan compared to other programs, especially when it comes to the Full Scan.
Custom scan can be used to scan specific drives or areas within those drives. It's a nice, useful feature that not all antivirus software has.
Every time you initiate a scan, HouseCall will make sure you have all the latest updates so that it runs as effectively as possible.
It's important to understand that Housecall is not a full security suite - it's just going to scan for viruses and remove them. As mentioned, it's not running constantly so will not give you constant, 24/7 protection.
Of course, all this is implied in the name of the software, so it's not as if Trend Micro is being misleading.
There's also no access to tech support - you'll have to browse through forums or look for articles on Trend Micro's website to find answers you're looking for.
There are no independent lab results specifically for Housecall: Free Online Security Scan. However, there have been tests on Trend Micro's technology that have been very positive.
As of January 2021, AV-Test and AV-Comparatives both give it a 100 % detection rate, even for zero-day threats.
SE Labs' tests, on the other hand, did show it slip up a bit, resulting in its 92 % detection rate from that firm.
Either way, Trend Micro has very high detection rates, and the fact that HouseCall is free makes this even more enticing.
Before we jump into our final verdict, let's take a look at some pros and cons of Housecall.
1. Completely free to use
2. Only runs when you're using it, so makes good companion software for an always active antivirus
3. Very simple to use
4. Lets you perform quick or comprehensive custom or full scans
5. Is made by Trend Micro, whose products do an excellent job of detecting malware
6. The home network scan is a nice touch, warning you of potential ways outsiders could access your network
1. It isn't a full security suite. You'll need another antivirus program to back it up
2. It's very bare-bones. You're just getting a program that scans for viruses. You could say that's all you need, but other software allows for higher degrees of customization and include many more tools
3. Only runs scans if you have a solid Internet connection. In other words, if you a virus that's disabling you're Internet, you'll have to use another program. If you lose connection, the program could crash. Consider how annoying this could be if you're 1 hour into a scan, crash, and have to restart!
4. Sometimes tends to provide false alarms, or even tell you to ignore warnings about serious threats
HouseCall: Free Online Security Scan is a useful tool if you want to perform a quick, thorough scan of your computer.
The fact that it's not running constantly is a positive when it comes to saving on processing power and "background noise" should you be doing something else, but a drawback when you realize you'll need another antivirus program that is constantly running.
HouseCall should be thought of as an additional security measure, not the main security measure.
Overall, we wouldn't really recommend it if it weren't free to use. As long as you have a backup antivirus program, you've got nothing to lose by giving HouseCall a try. However, be sure to keep in mind some of the "cons" we mentioned above, especially that the program can tell you to ignore serious threats.