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How to Run a Virus Scan on Your Android Phone

Has your Android device been acting buggy lately? Unexplained battery drain, sluggish performance, and strange pop-up ads often indicate malware. Android‘s open-source OS makes it more vulnerable to viruses than Apple‘s closed iOS. Running regular antivirus scans is crucial to keep your smartphone secure.

This comprehensive 3000+ word guide will teach you everything you need to know about scanning your Android phone for viruses. I‘ll share:

  • How malware infects phones and warning signs
  • Step-by-step instructions for running scans
  • Detailed reviews of the top antivirus apps
  • Useful extras like VPNs and identity protection
  • Expert tips to keep your device virus-free

Let‘s start by examining the prevalence of Android malware threats.

Android Malware is on the Rise

Android is the dominant global smartphone OS, with over 85% market share worldwide. Unfortunately, its open-source code also makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals.

  • In 2021, researchers discovered over 3 million new Android malware strains – a 15% increase from 2020.
  • Roughly 40,000 new malware samples now emerge daily.
  • Pre-installed malware tripled in 2020, found on 5.6% of brand new devices.
  • European cybersecurity firm G DATA notes China now hosts 77% of Android malware servers globally.

Hackers have many tricks to infect Android devices:

  • They create fake versions of popular apps loaded with malware.
  • Malicious links are spread via SMS or social media to install harmful apps.
  • Drive-by downloads infect devices simply visiting a compromised website.
  • Pre-installed malware is planted on phones before you even buy them!

This rising malware threat makes understanding Android security critical for all users. Let‘s explore how to tell if your phone is infected.

5 Common Signs Your Phone Has a Virus:

While some viruses hide in the background with zero symptoms, here are 5 issues that may indicate malware:

1. Lower Battery Life

Has your phone‘s battery been draining faster than normal? Malware strains system resources by running constant background tasks. This causes excessive battery drain as the processor works harder.

"Excessive battery drain is one of the most common signs of malware infection," says Alana Douglas, cybersecurity expert at ProtectOrg. "Apps and system processes affected by malware have to work harder which draws more power."

2. Slow System Performance

Viruses bog down system speed by taking up RAM and processor usage in the background. Laggy apps, frequent freezing and crashes all indicate potential malware.

"Malware is almost guaranteed to cause device performance issues," Douglas confirms. "All those unchecked background tasks overload the OS and really slow things down."

3. Increased Mobile Data Usage

Some information-stealing malware secretly sends premium SMS messages or connects to malicious servers which can drive up your data usage and cell plan costs.

Cybersecurity analyst Jack Hill explains, "Data usage spikes are a tell-tale warning sign of malware sending information or commands to external servers. This can really inflate your data plan usage."

4. Overheating

The extra load malware puts on your phone‘s CPU can cause it to heat up more than usual. If your device often feels hot even when barely used, it may indicate an infection.

"Overheating is a clear giveaway that extensive background system processes are running," says Hill. "Viruses strain the processor, generating excess heat."

5. Pop-up Ads

Seeing random pop-up ads outside of your browser likely means adware has infected your phone. Other ads to watch for are offers for paid subscriptions or sketchy downloads.

"Unexpected pop-ups are a dead giveaway your phone has adware," advises Douglas. "Especially if they open when you‘re not even browsing the web."

Stay vigilant for these 5 signs of infection. Now let‘s walk through scanning for viruses.

How to Run Android Antivirus Scans

Running antivirus scans is simple and the most important step in keeping your device secure. Just follow these easy steps:

Choose a Reliable Antivirus App

Search Google Play Store Antivirus apps and read reviews carefully. Top-rated options include:

  • Bitdefender Mobile Security – protects against malware, phishing, and network threats. Offers anti-theft features.

  • AVG Antivirus FREE – blocks viruses, cleans infections, and optimizes device performance.

  • Lookout Security & Antivirus – scans apps and monitors network connections for malware threats.

  • Malwarebytes Security – removes viruses, adware, and spyware with efficient scanning.

  • Avast Mobile Security – shields against ransomware, malware, viruses, and dangerous websites.

Focus on malware detection and scanning capabilities when choosing an antivirus.

Grant the Required App Permissions

Once installed, you‘ll need to allow the antivirus app to access your data and system resources. Grant permissions when prompted, including access to storage, location, SMS, camera and contacts. This allows full system scans.

Run Quick Scans Regularly

Run quick scans daily – they target active malware and only take 2-5 minutes. Quick scans check system files, apps, memory, browser data and running processes.

"It‘s important to run quick scans on a daily basis to detect rapidly any new malware," advises Hill. "They catch fresh infections before they can spread."

Run Full Scans Weekly

Schedule full system scans weekly or bi-weekly. Full scans comprehensively examine every single file, app and component for malware. They take 15+ minutes but offer total protection.

"While quick scans check only active programs, full scans dig deeper into your whole system," says Douglas. "I recommend them weekly to catch any dormant malware."

Delete Detected Malware

If your antivirus finds any infections, it will prompt you to delete them. Follow the directions carefully. You may need to uninstall dangerous apps, erase corrupted files or delete entire infected folders. Don‘t worry – your antivirus guides you through everything.

And that‘s all you need to start scanning your Android device! Now let‘s explore the advanced protection features offered by antivirus apps.

Key Antivirus Features Beyond Malware Scanning

Robust antivirus apps provide many security capabilities beyond virus scanning. Here are some useful extras to have:

Real-Time Protection

This constantly monitors device activity to block emerging malware threats in real-time, before they can infect your system.

"Real-time protection is a must-have feature," emphasizes Douglas. "It catches and disables malware the moment it appears, before it spreads."

App Scanning

App scanning checks any downloaded apps for malware before installing them on your device. This prevents infected apps from entering your system in the first place.

"Scanning apps from outside the Play Store is especially crucial," says Hill. "Third-party app stores have higher malware rates."

WiFi Security Scans

These scan your WiFi network and other devices connected to it for vulnerabilities. Useful for securing your entire home network.

Remote Lock and Wipe

Remotely lock or fully factory reset your misplaced or stolen device to protect your data if it falls into the wrong hands.

Cloud Backups

Automatically backs up your contacts, photos, videos and other data to the cloud. Essential to easily restore your data after malware removal.

Call Blocker and Spam Filter

Blocks unwanted calls and texts from spammers or scammers trying to phish your information.

Device Optimization

Cleans junk files, boosts RAM, improves battery performance and speeds up your phone‘s overall system.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Encrypts web traffic and masks your IP address for anonymous, secure web browsing from any network.

Prioritize antivirus software with robust security suites to keep your device truly protected in all scenarios.

Unsure whether to choose free or paid antivirus software for your Android phone? Here‘s an overview of their key pros and cons:

Paid Antivirus Apps


  • Maximum malware protection
  • Real-time app scanning
  • Additional features like VPNs, ID theft monitoring
  • Superior tech support resources


  • Yearly subscription fees (usually $30-100)
  • Too robust for basic users‘ needs

Free Antivirus Apps


  • No cost
  • Satisfies essential security needs
  • Lightweight performance impact


  • Limited real-time protection
  • Lacks extra features like VPNs
  • Moderate malware detection rate

Ultimately, free antivirus apps offer adequate security for most users. Tech-savvy owners who frequently install third-party apps may benefit from paid software with enhanced protections. But free antivirus meets the needs of casual smartphone users on a budget.

Now let‘s answer some common Android security questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need antivirus software for Android?

Absolutely! Android‘s open-source nature makes it far more prone to malware than Apple‘s closed operating system. Protecting your device with antivirus software is strongly recommended for all users.

In fact, research by AV-TEST found:

  • Unprotected Android devices see 5,000+ malware attacks annually.
  • Devices with antivirus suffer only 400 annual attacks, over 90% less.

Don‘t depend on Google‘s Play Protect alone. Install third-party antivirus for comprehensive security.

Can browsing websites infect my phone?

Yes! Merely visiting malicious sites can infect your phone through drive-by downloads. Even reputable sites can be compromised to distribute malware.

Practicing safe browsing hygiene is critical:

  • Don‘t click sketchy links in emails or texts. Stick to trusted sites.
  • Use a VPN when on public WiFi to encrypt traffic.
  • Keep your browser and antivirus apps up-to-date.

How often should I run scans?

  • Quick scans – Daily, takes 2-5 mins to detect new active infections
  • Full scans – Weekly, 30+ minutes for complete system check

Cybersecurity consultant Jack Hill recommends, "Run quick scans daily and full system scans weekly for optimum protection. Schedule full scans when you don‘t need your phone."

Will antivirus drain my battery?

Minimally. Reputable apps are highly optimized. The minor battery drain antivirus causes is worth it for the security provided.

What are signs of infection?

Watch for:

  • Battery draining faster
  • Sluggish device performance
  • Overheating
  • Increased mobile data usage
  • Random pop-up ads

Is Android more secure than iPhone?

No. Android‘s open-source code is more vulnerable to malware attacks than Apple‘s closed iOS platform. However, antivirus software helps give Android robust security.

Can factory reset remove a virus?

Yes, factory resetting your device will wipe it clean of all data – including any malware or viruses. Make sure to backup your data first!

What‘s the best free Android antivirus?

Top-rated free options include AVG Antivirus FREE, Avast Mobile Security, Lookout Security & Antivirus, and Bitdefender Mobile Security (with limited features).

Protect Your Smartphone

Android devices require antivirus protection. Installing trusted security software and performing regular system scans can spare you expensive data loss or device damage from malware.

Watch for tell-tale infection signs like lagging and battery drain. If you spot any, scan your phone immediately. Catching viruses early greatly limits the harm they can cause.

While Android‘s open platform does increase its malware risk, taking proactive precautions will keep your smartphone secure. Maintain smart browsing habits, install antivirus software, and start scanning for viruses today!


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