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Email virus protection

AOL offers an automatic email virus scan that provides an added level of security to your online experience at no extra cost. This automatically scans every email attachment that you send or receive for viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.

If the scan detects a virus attached to your email, a Virus Protection pop-up will tell you the outcome of the scan. If you receive a Virus Protection pop-up you do not need to contact us.

Where possible, the scanning service will remove the virus from your attachment and send the email onwards or download it virus-free.

Sometimes it will not be possible to remove the virus, in which case the scanning service will tell you that the email has not been sent.

Either way, you should take appropriate action with the document that contains the virus. If you want more information about what to do if you have a virus, worm or Trojan horse, please sign on to AOL and go to AOL Keyword: Virus.

Frequently asked questions:

  • What does this service cost me?
    This service is at no extra cost as part of our goal to make being online with AOL as safe, enjoyable and exciting as possible.

  • Will this scan files on my hard drive?
    No. This free service only scans attachments sent via email. For more information on McAfee VirusScan® Online, a premium service which scans for viruses on your whole PC, please sign on to AOL and go to AOL Keyword: Virus.

  • Is virus scan software being installed on my PC?
    No. All the scanning is done centrally on AOL's email system so you do not have to download or install anything.

  • Can the automatic virus scan be disabled?
    No, it is not possible to disable the email scanning service - all email attachments are scanned to provide all our members with increased protection from viruses. The AOL Conditions of Service strictly forbid the transmission of viruses across our servers for any reason.

  • What is being scanned for?
    The virus scan automatically scans email for the following:
    • Viruses - Pieces of software that cause an unexpected, usually negative, event. Viruses are often disguised as document files, games or images with clever titles.
    • Worms - Viruses that reside in the memory of a computer and duplicate themselves. They may send copies of themselves to other computers, including by email.
    • Trojans - Programs that pretend to be a benign application, purposefully doing something the user does not expect. Trojans are not viruses since they do not replicate, but Trojan horse programs can be just as destructive.

  • Does this guarantee virus-free email?
    Email viruses change all the time so it is not possible to guarantee that the virus scanning service will always catch every virus, worm or Trojan horse. However, we believe this service makes your online experience much safer.

  • Will this slow my email down?
    Your incoming email is scanned before it even reaches your mailbox, so you will not see any delay. When sending email, the scanning happens very quickly, so you should not notice any significant difference in the time it takes to send.

  • Who provides the virus-scanning service?
    The service is powered by Network Associates' world-class McAfee® anti-virus technology and research.

  • Will this service apply to webmail or AOL Communicator?
    Yes - because the scanning is all done centrally, any email attachment sent via AOL will receive the benefit of virus scanning, no matter how the email is sent - using the AOL software, webmail, AOL Communicator, etc.

  • What about AOL Mobile/Sky Active email?
    You cannot send or receive emails with attachments on AOL Mobile or AOL on Sky Active, so these services are not affected.

  • Do I have to opt in to this service?
    No. This will happen automatically for all email attachments sent over the AOL network.

  • How up to date will this service be?
    New viruses are discovered every month, so up-to-date virus protection is critical. In keeping with AOL's ease of use, the email scanning service will be regularly and automatically updated, in an effort to create a safer and more secure online environment.

  • Does AOL read my attached files?
    Absolutely not. Documents are scanned using complex mathematical algorithms that search for patterns and telltale signs left by viruses, rather than 'looking at' the content itself.