7 Quick Sites That Let You Check If a Link Is Safe
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Is the link in that email legitimate? Whether sent by a friend or a stranger, it’s unwise to click links without knowing where they take you.

One of the quickest-growing security issues these days is ransomware, which is often spread by people unwittingly clicking dangerous links in emails, social networks, messengers, and other collaboration tools. Malware and phishing sites are also major risks.

While you should be vigilant about all your online activities, it doesn’t hurt to have a little help. Here are several tools to check if a link is safe.

What a Link Checker Should Do

There are two types of URLs:

  1. A standard-length URL, starting www, followed by the website name, and ending with .com or some other top-level domain What URL Domain Extensions Stand For and Why They Are Needed What URL Domain Extensions Stand For and Why They Are Needed There's a lot more to the internet that just .com, .org, and .net sites. The world of top-level domains exploded a few years ago. But what is a TLD? Let's find out. Read More .
  2. A shortened URL, such as goo.gl/V4jVrx.

It doesn’t matter whether the link you received is a standard-length URL or shortened. If it is dangerous in any way, the link checking tool should alert you to this. If the links are going to take you to a compromised website, the link checker will highlight this immediately. Similarly, direct links to malware, ransomware and other risks should be reported by these tools.

The following sites will help you uncover the truth about those dodgy links. Check more than one at any given time to give you the best results.

1. Kaspersky VirusDesk

Check dodgy links with Kaspersky Virus Desk

If you prefer to get your security recommendations from the world-famous Kaspersky security firm, you should try VirusDesk. This is a dual-purpose tool that not only checks links to potentially dodgy websites, it accepts uploads of suspicious files. Handily, it offers both features via a dedicated link pasting/drag-and-drop field.

To use Kaspersky VirusDesk for link checking, enter the URL and click Scan. You’ll be quickly informed whether the target URL is safe or not. If you have reason to disagree with a “safe” result, you can click the “I disagree with the scan results” button.

This will prompt the Kaspersky researchers to find out more. They’ll let you know of their findings by email if you leave your address.

2. Check Links With ScanURL

use ScanURL to check dodgy short links

Another you should look at us ScanURL, an independent website that takes your link queries submissions seriously via a secure HTTPS connection What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More . Although the link submission screen is ad-supported, the results are good.

ScanURL polls Google Safe Browsing, PhishTank, and Web of Trust and provides information about the queried site’s Whois record. The returned results will instantly indicate whether you should visit the site and are accompanied by a ScanURL recommendation.

Avoid the site if the results list it as dangerous.

Several sites (including some in this list) and tools are checked by ScanURL as it collates the results. Once the ScanURL result page has loaded, a permanent URL is applied. You can copy and paste this to share with friends, family, or the otherwise concerned for them to refer to. Handy!

3. PhishTank

Check links for malware with PhishTank

Instead of focusing on malware, PhishTank instead alerts you to phishing sites. But the principle is the same. Once you enter a URL that you suspect of harboring a phishing operation, PhishTank will check it out. If the link is already “in the tank” then you’ll get instant results. Otherwise, you’ll get a tracking number. Sadly, it’s not as simple to check a phishing link as it is to automatically check some malware links…

Concerned about sites that might con you into divulging personal data? If you have any knowledge of identity theft, then you’ll know much of this occurs thanks to phishing operations. PhishTank is always worth a visit when checking concerning links.

Feeling charitable? Anyone can contribute to the site and verify links that have been submitted by other users.

4. Google Transparency Report

use the Google Safe Browsing tool to check suspicious links

They might not be the world’s most privacy-conscious company Google Just Banned This Privacy Tool: How to Use Disconnect Google Just Banned This Privacy Tool: How to Use Disconnect Disconnect can shield users against invisible tracking tools, while increasing consumer awareness on surreptitious data-collection methods. It also functions as an anti-malware tool. So why has Google banned it from the Play Store? Read More , but Google does offer a useful link checking service. Their Transparency Report service offers a standard field into which you can enter the URL you’re concerned about. A few seconds later, the results—captured by Google’s web crawlers—will tell you if the site can be trusted.

Along with malware, Google Transparency Report will alert you to phishing risks. Concerned about accidentally giving your personal information away? Phishing is potentially a greater concern than malware, so it makes sense to be sure that the site you’re planning on visiting isn’t about to steal your identity.

5. Use VirusTotal Safe Link Checker

Check dangerous links with VirusTotal

Offering a browser-based multi-function scanning tool, VirusTotal “analyzes suspicious files and URLs to detect types of malware.” The results of the scans are then shared with the online security community.

A simple tool that will give you instant results, VirusTotal also offers an Android and Windows app.

For developers, VirusTotal also offers public and private APIs. While limited to non-commercial projects, these can be used to create your own file and link scanning tool on your website.

6. Norton Safe Web

Check links with Norton Safe Web

Antivirus giant Norton has also produced a safe link checker, which typically scans a site for malware. Using a tool provided by a company with a reputation like Norton’s is a smart move. Better still, Norton Safe Web even offers two further tools.

One is Norton Safe Search Extension, a Chrome extension that adds quick safe search functionality to your browser. Every search you run in the browser will display results that have been checked by Norton. You can also install a Norton home page extension for the complete Norton-safety experience.

7. Find Out If a Link Is Safe With URLVoid

Check suspicious links with URLVoid

Finally, there’s URLVoid, a tool to help you “detect potentially malicious websites.” As with the other tools, simply input the suspect URL and wait for the site to check it. You’ll find information about the URL and its history, any black ticks against it, and where the site is based if that information has been made public.

A list of services that URLVoid uses to generate its results is also displayed, with famous names including Avira, BitDefender, and PhishTank among them.

If you need to scan an IP address, URLVoid offers a companion service, IPVoid.

Which Link Checkers Do You Use?

Each of the link checkers listed here is safe to use and perfect for helping you stay safe online. These sites should deliver the confirmation you need when checking potentially dodgy links:

  1. Kaspersky VirusDesk
  2. ScanURL
  3. PhishTank
  4. Google Transparency Report
  5. VirusTotal
  6. Norton Safe Web
  7. URLVoid

These sites will protect you from all manner of security threats distributed via web links, from malware and ransomware to spoof emails and websites attempting to phish your details.

It isn’t just dodgy links that you’ll find in a phishing email. Here’s how to spot a phishing email How to Spot a Phishing Email How to Spot a Phishing Email Catching a phishing email is tough! Scammers pose as PayPal or Amazon, trying to steal your password and credit card information, are their deception is almost perfect. We show you how to spot the fraud. Read More and avoid accidentally giving your personal data to cybercriminals.

Image Credit: mmaxer/Depositphotos

Explore more about: Computer Security, Malware, Online Security, Phishing, Scanner.

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  1. Alisa
    October 21, 2019 at 3:41 am

    This was a good idea but I could use some improvement. My constructive suggestion would be to find some sites that will not just simply give you an answer back found something bad or didn’t find something bad but will identify exactly what site it is and what content it is to show you what the BS is. For example when you receive an anonymous spam text with a link in it that also has a phone number that is identified on the spam text a person gets sent it would be helpful to be able to analyze both without having to pay for anything. it would also be helpful for The Site that analyzes these items to be the same to analyze both the phone number of the spam text was sent from and the URL that was contained in the spam text and show you a graphical image of what the URL leads to including what video it links to on site like YouTube which is where a spam text link I was sent was directed toward. It would be exceptionally helpful to be able to report the actual sites to some authority and be able to use these tools to what is called or referred to as “open the kimono“ which means to reveal the inner secrets and what I am referring to is pierce through all of the cloaking and identity hiding that these ridiculous hosting and registration companies offer as a service. It would be nice if those types of things were to be forced to be done away with so that anybody wants to check the veracity of a say can do so and also have a valid way to contact the website owner and or webmaster.

  2. Rae
    May 22, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Thank you for putting this together. I plan to share with friends and family!

  3. rlane
    May 15, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Rakuten requires access to YOUR emails. Full stop. Spyware, abandon privacy all ye who enter.

  4. dragonmouth
    May 15, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    Wasn't there something sketchy about Web of Trust a few months back? Didn't they become unreliable soon after being taken over?

  5. Gary Morgan Moritz
    July 25, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    scamURL does not work. Nothing comes back. What is a "nickname?" crap

  6. Cath
    March 21, 2018 at 2:11 am

    AVGthreatlabs is no longer a service

  7. upx
    October 28, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    virustotal.com checks files & URLs. AFAIK, it has worked pretty well for me for years.

  8. Greg Pocha
    November 1, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Online Link Scan ... VERY INACCURATE! I checked my website and the information was all related to my old web host. Since I closed and transferred my website to a new host awhile back, they scanned old information. Needless to say, I couldn't be less impressed.

  9. Bombay Velvet box office collection
    April 25, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    i think avast online security has all features to protect from such harmful sites

  10. blackwatertown
    January 11, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Thanks for the resources you've put together on this.

  11. Pix Place
    January 11, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Firefox NoScript FlashBlock WoT Safety on The Interwebz

  12. dd
    January 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    There is also:

    http://sucuri.net/?page=tools&title=check-url

    Which works with short URLs, to show the real one and if they are safe..

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      January 11, 2010 at 11:13 am

      Thanks! I tried it and it worked great! I might be able to add it to the list soon.

      • Jessica Cam Wong
        January 11, 2010 at 11:50 am

        Actually, I can't re-edit it but thank you for the suggestion anyway! I like how sucuri scans shortened links for safety through several engines such as SiteAdvisor and Google's SafeBrowsing. It's a neat concept.

    • Jack
      April 28, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Sucuri, you are known for spamming your urls everywhere. How more low can you drop...

  13. mathmom
    January 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Just a note: The Online Link Scan site reports seriall.com as safe. (I was trying to see what an unsafe site would look like.)

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      January 11, 2010 at 11:08 am

      I see what you're saying. Both McAfee and Norton have the red Warning/Unsafe sticker for seriall.com, so I guess the beauty of having several link-scanning resources is knowing generally that a site is a no-go.

  14. Basil
    January 10, 2010 at 3:55 am

    There is also http://www.uptimekeeper.com that checks web pages for availability and malicious contents.

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      January 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

      Hmm, this website wouldn't load for me.

  15. Kroon78
    January 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Online Link scan seemed to work no problem. I laugh at the thought of disproving one of these services would require one to become compromised lol.

  16. craig kensek
    January 8, 2010 at 8:36 am

    AVG LinkScanner is free for home use. It's included with many of AVG's products but can be downloaded and used separately. http://www.linkscanner.avg.com is the site to learn about and download it. Unlike many other products, it provides real time safe surf protection. Many other products rely on a database and trust. 60% of threats on hacked websites around around for less than a day. So the real time aspect is critical.

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      January 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

      I actually do use and recommend AVG's LinkScanner, but this list could be for people who don't have AVG as their Anti-virus. I do agree with your point that constantly-updating AV and browser addons offer better real-time protection, so you can count on updated reviews.

      • craig kensek
        January 11, 2010 at 10:45 am

        Thanks for clarifying! The important thing for people to note is that they the LinkScanner technology is both part of AVG's SW but can be downloaded separately and works with most home security sw

  17. Saad
    January 7, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I prefer MyWot though :-)

    • craig kensek
      January 10, 2010 at 10:33 pm

      Is MyWot real-time? If a "good" web site is hacked 10 minutes before you click on it, what will MyWot say about it? LinkScanner will check in real time what you are trying to click on.

  18. Sacramento Photographer
    January 7, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    This is a good resource! Thanks for putting together the compilation.

    • Jessica Cam Wong
      January 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

      No problem. I figured that a list of link-scanning web apps would come in handy after several of my friends' IM accounts were hacked and thus, they would send me random links that I know they would not just advertise (the first screenshot is proof).