Understanding and Fixing the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Error

In the digital era, our reliance on the internet for a myriad of daily tasks necessitates the use of various browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Safari, and DuckDuckGo. These browsers, apart from being our gateway to the World Wide Web, also play a pivotal role in maintaining our online security, including safeguarding us from potential threats such as malware and viruses.

A key component of this security mechanism is the ability to perform virus scanning on files that users download from the internet. This function is crucial in preventing the inadvertent downloading and installation of malicious software that could compromise the security of your device and the data stored within.

However, users may sometimes encounter an error message that reads ‘Virus Scan Failed’ when attempting to download files. This error implies that the browser was unable to perform the necessary virus scan on the downloaded file, resulting in the download being blocked as a safety measure.

The ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error is a common issue across various browsers, including Chrome, Edge, Safari, and DuckDuckGo, and can be quite frustrating to users. This guide aims to help you understand this problem, explore its potential causes in different browsers, and provide solutions on how to resolve it. By understanding how to manage and mitigate this issue, you can ensure a safer and smoother online browsing experience.

Understanding and Fixing the 'Virus Scan Failed' Error

Also read: Troubleshooting ‘System UI Not Responding’ Errors: Causes and Solutions

Table of Contents

What is Virus Scanning in Browsers?

Virus scanning in browsers is a built-in security feature that checks the files users download from the internet for any malicious content. This is part of a proactive defense strategy intended to catch threats before they can potentially harm your system. When you try to download a file, the browser will automatically attempt to scan it using its inbuilt antivirus scanner. This helps to ensure that any harmful files are detected and blocked before they can reach your system.

This process doesn’t usually interfere with the user’s experience – it runs in the background and the user is only notified if a threat is detected. The notification is often in the form of an error message, one of which is the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ message.

How Does Virus Scanning Protect Your Computer?

Virus scanning serves as one of the first lines of defense in protecting your computer from potential threats. It acts as a gatekeeper, ensuring that any file you download from the internet is safe to be stored and accessed on your computer.

By scanning files for known signatures of viruses, trojans, worms, and other forms of malware, the virus scanning process can identify and block these threats. This way, even if you accidentally click on a malicious link or download a dangerous file, the virus scanner can prevent it from causing damage to your system.

Moreover, since many forms of malware are designed to spread and infect other files within your system, blocking them before they’re downloaded can prevent wider damage and potential loss or corruption of data.

In this way, the virus scanning function in browsers contributes significantly to the overall security of your computer and the protection of your personal data. It’s worth noting, however, that browser-based virus scanning is only one aspect of a comprehensive security setup, and should be complemented by a robust, up-to-date antivirus program for best protection.

Brief on Browsers: Chrome, Edge, Safari, DuckDuckGo

Chrome: Features and Security Measures

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers globally, renowned for its speed, user-friendly interface, and extensive customization options. Its features include tabbed browsing, synchronization with Google services, privacy mode (Incognito), and a vast library of extensions.

Chrome’s security measures include sandboxing, safe browsing technology, and automatic updates. Sandboxing helps isolate web page processes to prevent malicious code from infecting your computer. Chrome’s safe browsing technology warns users when they attempt to visit potentially dangerous websites or download potentially malicious files. Chrome’s automatic updates ensure that the browser always has the latest security patches.

Edge: Features and Security Measures

Microsoft Edge, the successor to Internet Explorer, integrates seamlessly with Windows 10 and provides a smooth browsing experience. Key features include integration with Cortana (Microsoft’s virtual assistant), reading mode, and cross-device syncing.

In terms of security, Edge uses Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to protect against phishing attacks and malicious software. Like Chrome, Edge also employs sandboxing technology and regular automatic updates to keep its security measures up-to-date.

Safari: Features and Security Measures

Safari is Apple’s default web browser for macOS and iOS devices. It’s known for its speed, energy efficiency, and seamless integration with the Apple ecosystem. Features include a reading list, reader mode, and seamless syncing across Apple devices via iCloud.

Safari uses a range of security measures such as fraudulent site warnings, sandboxing, and private browsing mode. Apple also offers regular updates to Safari, helping ensure it remains secure against emerging threats.

DuckDuckGo: Features and Security Measures

DuckDuckGo is primarily a search engine, known for its emphasis on protecting users’ privacy. However, they also offer a mobile browser for iOS and Android. The browser doesn’t track user activity, deletes browsing history after each session, and provides a privacy grade for each visited website.

While DuckDuckGo doesn’t have built-in antivirus scanning like other browsers, its focus on privacy serves as a different form of security measure. By blocking trackers and keeping your search history private, DuckDuckGo helps protect your personal data from advertisers and potential hackers.

What Does ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Mean?

The ‘Virus Scan Failed’ message is an error notification that you may see when attempting to download a file from the internet using a web browser. This error means that the browser’s built-in security feature, designed to scan downloaded files for potential threats, was unable to perform its function.

It’s important to note that this error doesn’t necessarily mean the file you’re trying to download contains a virus. Instead, it signifies that the file could not be scanned at all, and as a precaution, the browser prevents the download from completing to avoid the potential risk of downloading an unscanned file.

Common Reasons for the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Error

Several factors can lead to the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error:

  1. Antivirus Software Conflict: Sometimes, your antivirus software may interfere with the browser’s ability to scan downloaded files, leading to this error. This usually happens if the antivirus software is outdated, misconfigured, or overly aggressive in its scanning.
  2. Incorrect Browser Settings or Corruptions: If there are errors or corruption in your browser settings, this can interfere with the browser’s ability to perform virus scans on downloaded files.
  3. Outdated Browser Version: If your browser is outdated, it may not be able to perform virus scans properly. Browsers are frequently updated to fix bugs and improve functionality, so running an outdated version may result in errors.
  4. Windows Registry Errors: The Windows Registry contains settings and configurations for software and hardware on your computer. Errors or corruption in the registry can lead to issues like the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error.
  5. Issues with Downloaded File or Source: In some cases, the error could be due to issues with the file you’re trying to download or the website you’re downloading it from. The file might be corrupted or the website might be unsafe, triggering the browser’s security measures.

Causes of ‘Virus Scan Failed’ in Different Browsers

Virus Scan Failed’ in Chrome: Common Causes

In Google Chrome, the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error typically arises due to the following causes:

  1. Antivirus Software Interference: Some antivirus software can conflict with Chrome’s built-in virus scanner, preventing it from scanning downloaded files.
  2. Outdated Chrome Version: If Chrome isn’t updated to the latest version, it may lack necessary security patches, causing the virus scanner to malfunction.
  3. Misconfigured Internet Settings: Incorrectly configured internet settings can interfere with Chrome’s ability to download and scan files, leading to the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error.
  4. Windows Registry Issues: An incorrect or corrupted Windows Registry setting related to Chrome could lead to the error message.

‘Virus Scan Failed’ in Edge: Common Causes

The ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error in Microsoft Edge is often caused by:

  1. Microsoft Defender SmartScreen Issues: Problems with Microsoft Defender SmartScreen can prevent the scanning of downloaded files.
  2. Outdated Edge Version: An outdated version of Edge could lack the latest security patches, resulting in the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error.
  3. Conflicting Antivirus Software: If the installed antivirus software conflicts with Edge’s security protocols, it can prevent the scanning of downloaded files.
  4. Misconfigured System Files: Incorrect system file settings can interfere with Edge’s ability to download and scan files, resulting in the error.

‘Virus Scan Failed’ in Safari: Common Causes

In Safari, the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error is less common due to macOS’s unique architecture, but it can still occur due to:

  1. Conflicting Antivirus Software: Any installed antivirus software may conflict with Safari’s security measures, causing the error.
  2. Outdated Safari Version: If Safari isn’t updated to the latest version, it may lack necessary security updates that prevent the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error.
  3. Incorrect Internet Configuration: Misconfigured internet settings on your Mac can prevent Safari from downloading and scanning files correctly.

‘Virus Scan Failed’ in DuckDuckGo: Common Causes

DuckDuckGo is primarily a search engine that focuses on privacy and doesn’t offer a built-in antivirus scanner like other browsers. However, users might see similar error messages due to:

  1. Device’s Antivirus Software: Your device’s antivirus software might block the download due to perceived threats, causing an error.
  2. Unsafe Websites or Files: DuckDuckGo warns users when they attempt to visit potentially unsafe websites. If you’re trying to download a file from such a site, your device may prevent the download.
  3. Browser or System Settings: If you’re using the DuckDuckGo mobile app or using DuckDuckGo search engine in another browser, incorrect settings or an outdated browser version could lead to errors when downloading files.

How Antivirus Software Interacts with Browsers

Antivirus software is designed to protect your computer from a wide range of threats, including viruses, trojans, worms, ransomware, and other forms of malware. It performs this role by scanning files, applications, and sometimes even web pages for known signatures of malicious software.

When you’re browsing the internet, the antivirus software monitors your activity to prevent you from downloading malicious files or visiting unsafe websites. Most antivirus programs include a feature called real-time scanning, which continuously checks your computer and your activities for potential threats.

In addition, antivirus software often includes a web protection component that specifically targets threats from the internet. This component can integrate with your web browser, enabling it to scan the files you download directly from the browser. In some cases, the antivirus software might even scan the websites you visit to prevent you from landing on a malicious page.

Antivirus Interference Leading to ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Error

Despite the crucial role of antivirus software in protecting your computer, it can sometimes interfere with the operation of your web browser, leading to errors such as the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error.

Here’s how that might happen:

  1. Overlapping Functions: Since both your browser and your antivirus software have features to scan downloads for malware, they might conflict with each other. If both try to scan a file simultaneously, it might result in an error.
  2. Overzealous Scanning: Some antivirus programs are more aggressive in their scanning, which can lead to false positives or prevent downloads from completing even when the files are safe.
  3. Outdated Antivirus Software: If your antivirus software is outdated, it might not interact properly with your browser, especially if the browser has been updated recently.
  4. Incorrect Settings: If the settings of your antivirus software are not correctly configured, it might block the browser from downloading and scanning files, leading to the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error.

In such cases, updating your antivirus software, changing its settings, or temporarily disabling it can help resolve the issue. However, disabling antivirus software should only be a last resort and you should ensure that you trust the file you’re trying to download before doing so.

Fixes for ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Error in Different Browsers 

Solving ‘Virus Scan Failed’ in Chrome

  1. Update Chrome: An outdated Chrome version may result in the error. Check if an update is available and install it.
  2. Reset Chrome Settings: Resetting Chrome to its default settings can fix the error if it’s due to incorrect configurations. To do this, go to Settings > Advanced > Reset and clean up > Restore settings to their original defaults.
  3. Check Antivirus Software: Ensure your antivirus software isn’t blocking Chrome’s scanning process. You might need to update your antivirus software or adjust its settings.
  4. Check Windows Registry: If you’re comfortable with advanced steps, you can check the Windows Registry for errors related to Chrome. Be cautious as incorrect changes can cause significant problems.    Make sure you back up your registry data before proceeding.
  • Press Windows Key + R to open Run.
  • Type regedit and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor.
  • Follow this path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Attachments.
  • If you can’t find the Attachments key, create it. Right-click Policies > New > Key and name it Attachments.
  • Inside Attachments, right-click the right pane, select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value, and name it ScanWithAntiVirus.
  • Double click on ScanWithAntiVirus and set its value to 1.
  • Click OK, then close the Registry Editor.
  • Restart your computer and check if the issue is resolved.

      5. Fix the Virus Scan Failed Error by Disabling Chrome’s Extensions:

          Some Chrome extensions can interfere with the download process, leading to the error.

  • Open Google Chrome and click on the three dots (⋮) at the top-right corner to open the dropdown menu.
  • Go to ‘More tools’ > ‘Extensions’.
  • You will see a list of all installed extensions. Disable them one by one by toggling off the switch at the bottom-right of each extension box.
  • After disabling an extension, try downloading the file. If it downloads successfully, you’ve found the problematic extension.
  • If you’ve identified the extension causing the issue, you can remove it by clicking ‘Remove’.

 6. Clear Browsing Data:

Sometimes, the error might be due to cache files or cookies. You can try to clear your browsing data to fix the problem.

  • Open Google Chrome.
  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Delete to open the Clear Browsing Data window.
  • From the Time range drop-down, select All time.
  • Tick the boxes for Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files.
  • Click Clear data.

7. Disable Windows Defender:

This issue might occur because of Windows Defender, which can sometimes mistakenly mark some files as unsafe. If you are confident about the safety of the file you are downloading, you can try disabling Windows Defender.

  • Press Windows Key + I to open Settings.
  • Navigate to Update & Security > Windows Security.
  • Click on Virus & threat protection.
  • Under the Virus & threat protection settings, click on Manage settings.
  • Turn off the Real-time protection.

Note: Turning off your antivirus protection can expose your system to risks. So make sure you turn it back on after you’re done.

Solving ‘Virus Scan Failed’ in Edge

  1. Update Edge: The first and easiest step is to ensure that you are using the latest version of Edge. Browsers regularly release updates to patch vulnerabilities and fix bugs. You can update Edge by clicking on the three-dot menu in the upper right corner, then selecting “Help and feedback,” followed by “About Microsoft Edge.” The browser will automatically check for updates and install them.
  2. Reset Edge Settings: If the error persists even after updating, you may need to reset your browser settings. This can help eliminate any issues caused by misconfigured settings. To do this, click on the three-dot menu > “Settings” > “Reset settings.” Here, select “Restore settings to their default values” and confirm your decision.
  3. Check Antivirus Software: Your antivirus software might interfere with Edge, causing the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error. Make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date. If the problem persists, temporarily disable the antivirus and try the download again. If it works, you’ll need to adjust your antivirus settings. Please ensure you turn your antivirus back on as soon as you’re done testing.
  4. Scan for Malware: It’s possible that malware on your computer is causing this issue. Use a trusted antivirus software to scan your computer for any potential threats and remove them if found.

Solving ‘Virus Scan Failed’ in Safari

  1. Update Safari and macOS: Make sure both Safari and your macOS are updated, as outdated versions can cause the error.
  2. Check Antivirus Software: Check your antivirus software to ensure it’s not interfering with Safari’s security protocols.
  3. Reset Safari: Resetting Safari can resolve many issues. Go to Safari > Preferences > Privacy > Manage Website Data > Remove All.
  4. Check Download List: An overloaded download list can sometimes cause issues. Clear the list by clicking on View > Show Downloads and clear any completed or failed downloads.

Solving ‘Virus Scan Failed’ in DuckDuckGo

  1. Check Antivirus Software: Since DuckDuckGo doesn’t have built-in antivirus scanning, any download errors are likely due to your device’s antivirus software.
  2. Check File Source: Ensure the file you’re trying to download comes from a reputable source, as DuckDuckGo may block downloads from risky websites.
  3. Update Browser: If you’re using the DuckDuckGo search engine within another browser, make sure that browser is updated.
  4. Clear Browser Cache: Clearing your browser’s cache and cookies can often resolve issues with downloads. This process will vary depending on which browser you’re using with DuckDuckGo.

Remember, always use caution when adjusting browser or antivirus settings, and ensure your actions do not compromise your device’s security.

Preventive Measures to Avoid ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Error

Regular Browser Updates

Keeping your browser updated is crucial for maintaining its security and functionality. Developers regularly release updates to fix bugs, patch security vulnerabilities, and add new features. Running an outdated version of your browser may leave you exposed to threats and could cause issues like the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error. To avoid this, ensure your browser is set to automatically update or manually check for updates regularly.

Proper Antivirus Settings

Antivirus software is an essential line of defense against malware and other online threats. However, incorrect antivirus settings can interfere with your browser and cause errors. It’s important to regularly update your antivirus software and ensure its settings are correctly configured. If you’re experiencing issues like the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error, try adjusting your antivirus settings or consult the software’s customer support for assistance.

Moreover, be aware that some free or low-quality antivirus programs may cause more issues than they solve. Therefore, consider investing in a reputable antivirus solution that is known to work well with your chosen browser.

Safe Browsing Practices

Adopting safe browsing habits can significantly reduce your risk of encountering errors and security issues:

  1. Visit Trusted Websites: Stick to websites you know and trust. Be particularly careful when downloading files, as some websites may host malicious files that can harm your computer.
  2. Be Wary of Unexpected Downloads: If a website tries to initiate a download unexpectedly, be cautious. Don’t download or open files that you weren’t expecting or that come from sources you don’t trust.
  3. Use Secure Connections: Look for the padlock symbol in your browser’s address bar, which indicates that the website is using a secure HTTPS connection. Avoid entering sensitive information (like passwords or credit card numbers) on websites that don’t use HTTPS.
  4. Beware of Phishing Attempts: Be careful with emails and messages that ask for personal information or direct you to log in to a website. Always double-check the sender’s identity and the message’s legitimacy to avoid falling victim to phishing scams.

By following these practices, you can help maintain your browser’s functionality and security, reducing the risk of errors and threats.

Potential Consequences of Ignoring ‘Virus Scan Failed’ Error

Security Risks

The ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error is essentially a safety feature of your web browser, designed to prevent you from unknowingly downloading potentially harmful files. Ignoring this error or circumventing it without understanding the cause can expose your computer to a variety of security risks:

  1. Malware Infection: If the error occurred because a downloaded file was infected with malware, forcing the download could result in the malware being installed on your system. This could lead to data loss, system instability, or unauthorized access to your sensitive information.
  2. Vulnerabilities: By ignoring this error, you might be running an outdated browser version or flawed antivirus software, both of which can expose your system to security vulnerabilities. Hackers often exploit such vulnerabilities to spread malware or perform other malicious activities.
  3. Unsafe Websites: Sometimes, the error could be triggered due to the site you’re downloading from being unsafe. Ignoring the error could lead to more downloads from the unsafe source, potentially exposing your system to more threats.

Impact on Browsing Experience

Ignoring the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error could also negatively impact your overall browsing experience:

  1. Browser Performance: Persistent errors can hinder the performance of your browser. You might face slow page loading times, unresponsive pages, or frequent crashes if the issue causing the error isn’t resolved.
  2. Functionality Issues: Some browser functions might not work properly if there are underlying issues causing the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error. For instance, you might be unable to download files or visit certain websites.
  3. User Experience: Frequent error messages can be frustrating and interrupt your browsing. It might lead to a poor user experience, especially if the error pops up repeatedly.

In short, while it might be tempting to ignore the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error, doing so could have serious consequences. It’s better to take the time to understand and resolve the issue to ensure a secure and smooth browsing experience.


The ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error in various browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Safari, and DuckDuckGo is a safety feature that alerts users when a file cannot be scanned for potential threats. It’s important not to ignore this warning as it can indicate underlying issues with your browser, antivirus software, or the file you’re trying to download.

The error could result from several factors, including outdated browser versions, conflicts with antivirus software, or incorrect internet configurations. Fixing these issues often requires updating your browser, adjusting antivirus settings, or resolving system settings conflicts.

Additionally, adopting preventive measures like regular browser updates, proper antivirus settings, and safe browsing practices can help avoid encountering this error. Remember, keeping your digital environment secure is a continuous effort, and staying informed about potential issues and their solutions can go a long way in ensuring a safe and seamless browsing experience.

Ignoring the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error can lead to serious consequences, including security risks like malware infection or exposure to unsafe websites. It can also negatively affect your browsing experience, resulting in reduced browser performance and a poor user experience.

Therefore, understanding and addressing the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error promptly and effectively is essential in maintaining a secure, efficient, and enjoyable browsing experience.


Q: What does ‘Virus Scan Failed’ mean on my browser?

A: It’s a safety alert, warning you that a file couldn’t be scanned for potential threats during download.

  Q: Can outdated antivirus software cause ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error?

A: Yes, outdated antivirus can cause conflicts leading to this error, it’s essential to keep it updated.

  Q: How do I fix the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error in Chrome?

A: You could update Chrome, reset its settings, check your antivirus, or if confident, inspect the Windows Registry.

  Q: What preventive measures can I take to avoid this error?

A: Regularly updating your browser, proper antivirus settings, and safe browsing practices help prevent this error.

  Q: What risks do I face if I ignore the ‘Virus Scan Failed’ error?

A: Ignoring this error can expose your system to malware, leave you vulnerable to hackers, and impact browsing experience