ClamWin, An Open-Source Anti-Virus Solution For Your PC [Windows]

Jessica Cam Wong 19-01-2012

clamwin antivirusNew online threats emerge every day, attacking corporations and consumers alike. These potentials threats aren’t disguised just as links or emails anymore.  They could be coming for your personal information in all sorts of ways. And we’re making it easy for hackers when we post personal stuff on Facebook and Twitter.


There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself. You can educate yourself on new potential threats, read on how to keep your computer secure A Universal Guide To PC Security From trojans to worms to phishers to pharmers, the web is full of hazards. Keeping yourself safe requires not only the right software, but an understanding of what kind of threats to look out for. Read More , and what security software doesn’t protect 4 Elements Of Computer Security That Antivirus Apps Don't Protect Read More , and obtain the best tools for the job 10 Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons Read More , whether they are anti-virus programs or extensions The Top 8+ Security & Privacy Extensions For The Chrome Browser Google’s Chrome Web Store hosts many extensions that can protect your security and privacy while using Chrome. Whether you want to block JavaScript, plug-ins, cookies and tracking scripts or force websites to encrypt your traffic,... Read More .

Here, I’ll be taking a look at ClamWin, an open-source anti-virus program that’s been around for a while. Should you get it? Read on to find out.

Getting ClamWin

ClamWin is an anti-virus program based on the only open-source anti-virus solution in the market, Clam AV, which is a toolkit initially designed for UNIX.

As you can probably tell by the name, ClamWin is available as a download for Windows machines only. You can download the installer here, which is almost 40MB, or you can also try the portable app for anti-virus protection on the go.

If you’re wondering about which version to go with, I’m using the portable version 0.97.3 for this review. This latest release has improved bytecode signature matching, in addition to the reigning features that characterize this anti-virus – virus scanner, scanning scheduler, automatic virus database updates, and integration with Windows Explorer and Microsoft Outlook.


If you’re using the installer, be aware that the Ask toolbar might be offered during the installation. Make sure you read what the checkboxes are offering before you click Next. I didn’t see any such thing during the portable application “installation”.

Launching ClamWin

When you first launch ClamWin, you’ll likely need to download the built-in database of viruses.
clamwin antivirus
Doing so will just take a few seconds if you’re connected to the Internet.
clamwin free antivirus
Once ClamWin has finished updating its Database, you can see the main window where you’ll have the options to set your preferences, update your virus definition database once again, scan programs currently running in memory and finally, scan specific files or directories.
clamwin free antivirus

Running Memory Scan

Selecting this option allows you to scan the programs that are currently running in memory. If you’re as paranoid as this author, t’s probably a good idea to update your virus definition database before running your scans.
clamwin free antivirus
Unless you’re running Photoshop, Mozilla Firefox, and many other resource hogs, this scan should be completed in a couple of minutes. Mine took just over 3 minutes and scanned 28 processes in memory.

Running File Or Directory Scan

In the main window, there will be a directory browser where you can select a whole drive (e.g. your C drive), specific folder or even a file to scan.
Depending on what you chose, this scan can obviously last a while. When I was running a scan for my D drive, ClamWin was also working really hard, using almost 109 MB of RAM. Not that it’s a bad sign, but it’s probably a good idea not to multi-task on your PC while you let a scan run through an entire disk drive. After a scan is finished, you can see the report right after, save it or access it in the main window menu.


If a virus is detected during the scan, there are three options you can choose from in the Preferences: Quarantine it, report it, or remove it.
If you’re particular about your scans, you can also filter files to be included or excluded from the scan in the Preferences. You can also limit a file size to scan or not, and also whether to extract files from zipped files in the Preferences window.

If you installed ClamWin instead of using the portable version, you’ll be able to schedule scans right in the Preferences window, increasing security for your PC.
clamwin antivirus
If you’re using the portable version and wish to schedule scans, you could always use Windows Task Scheduler Run Programs Automatically Using Windows Task Scheduler Read More and clamscan.exe which should be under ClamWinPortable/App/clamwin/bin.

ClamWin shines for being an open-source anti-virus program with file and directory scanners, scanner scheduler, automatic downloads of virus databases and more. It does lack a real-time scanner, which could be a big con, but for basic protection and its price, it’s a great product to have on your PC security arsenal.

Have you used Clam AV or ClamWin? Share your experience in the comments section below!


Related topics: Anti-Malware, Computer Maintenance, Portable App, Trojan Horse.

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  1. Blake Houghton
    July 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Why not use Clamwin in conjunction with Clam Sentinel?

  2. Muhammad Ahmad
    July 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Too old. I don't like it, It's very old age and useless.

  3. Ahmad
    March 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Can I use this Clam Win with microsoft Security Essentials? I need to secure my computer with free antivirus plus firewall. Thanks

    • Jessica Cam W.
      March 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

      I feel like Microsoft Security Essentials can already provide good anti-virus protection as a stand-alone program without the need for other anti-virus products.

      As far as firewall goes, I believe MSE doesn't provide that type of functionality. You can check out this article and
      this other one to find some of the best firewall programs available for Windows.

  4. Meena Bassem
    January 21, 2012 at 10:04 am

    hmm, that sounds no good for non-portable use

    • Jessica Cam W.
      January 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      For non-portable use, you can make use of ClamWin in conjunction with another anti-virus suite that has a real-time scanner.

  5. Flyer
    January 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    No real time makes it a joke.  Once something gets in it's too late....

    NOD32 is the only choice. No system slow down, and works perfectly...

    MSE works fine, but slows the system down like Norton does...

    • Jessica Cam W.
      January 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      Well, VirusTotal and F-Secure's online scanners are also manual file scanners and are quite popular. ClamWin does the same job, charges you nothing, and its source code is totally available for public scrutiny so I think there's appeal to it regardless. 

      I'm glad NOD32 works for you though. I'm happy with MSE as it does a fine job on my computer.

  6. pravin
    January 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    More problem with more options. I use Avast + Comodo firewall. Sometime also feel that i should use Only Comodo Internet security suit as it have antivirus + firewall + some more features. Now you given one more option in Free category. No i will not opt for this now.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      January 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      If Avast works for you, then stick with it! This post will be here if you ever want to try a new AV though.

  7. Reticula
    January 19, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Downloaded and installed the portable version. Started file scan on drive C. All of a sudden, I got an alert from my f-secure real time scanner. A trojan in one of ClamWin's temp directories. So not cool an anti-virus that installs a trojan!

    • Jessica Cam W.
      January 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      That's not a trojan actually. That temp file has a ClamWin virus signature, not a trojan or virus. 

      When ClamWin does a scan, it puts temp files on the computer (in your case, the C drive) and it removes them after it's done scanning. F-secure detected the signature before removal. Check this thread for further information.

      You can scan that same .clamtmp file on VirusTotal to check. It has multiple anti-virus services that it checks the files against.

  8. Karkala Nayak
    January 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I am much quiet satisfied with "Microsoft Security Essentials" It is more integrated with the system and uses less resources compared to others and also FREE!!
    But one Fail, There is no portable version of in that case ClamWin wins along with few other portable antivirus that exist!!
    Anyway Thanks for the amazing info!! 

  9. Chris Hoffman
    January 19, 2012 at 5:33 am

    I haven't looked at ClamWin in a few years, so it's sad to see they haven't implemented a real-time scanner yet.

    I'm all for open source software, but this is really holding ClamWin back.

    • Jessica Cam W.
      January 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      I agree. There has been, however, another open-source AV solution called Moon Secure AV that uses the ClamAV engine and promises to have a real-time scanner. It's too bad it doesn't seem to be very updated.