7 Best antivirus software for external hard drives

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
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  • In case you were wondering, your external hard drive should be protected with an antivirus since, most probably, you store sensitive data on it.
  • In this article, we're listing the best options available right now on the market.
  • Looking for more information on external HDDs? Check out our dedicated External Hard Drives section.
  • Also, in our Antivirus Hub, you'll find a lot of useful tools and tips on how to protect your digital life.
best antivirus for external HDD

To keep your external HDD safe and sound, you will need to use a high quality portable standalone antivirus software. This needs to be regularly updated as well.

Some antivirus tools will allow you to download the database and other tools will require you to download the whole software.

Other standalone antivirus tools on the market are not updated as frequently as they should, and this means that such tools won’t be able to detect the latest malware.

We want to help you stay protected, and that’s why we chose five of the best antivirus for external HDD to show you their features.

What are the best antivirus tools for external HDDs?

BullGuard (recommended)

bullguard antivirus for hdd

Bullguard offers next-generation anti-malware, and it provides users a new era of protection as the company itself states.

Bullguard is a sort of sentry that never sleeps, and that is always on alert for intruders. It continually scans code for signature and all kinds of anomalies that are associated with malware and provides you intelligent triple layer protection.

Any detected malware is locked down in quarantine, and then it is neutralized before the infection can even begin.

Further features include:

  • Recognition of trusted applications and sites.
  • Improved firewall with added layers of heavy-duty protection against intruders and malware, to block unauthorized attempts to connect a device to the Internet.
  • Online protection for kids to let them enjoy uninterrupted gaming.
  • Easy installation; 24/7 free expert support.

With BullGuard, you will keep private your most essential documents and data.

BullGuard Antivirus

BullGuard Antivirus

Get BullGuard now to have updated protection for your device against the latest malware.
$23.99/year Visit website

Read our BullGuard Product Review

Bitdefender

Bitdefender antivirus for hdd

Bitdefender provides enhanced protection for your external HDD, and this is one of the best antivirus tools that you can possibly find these days. The software uses a file-scanning engine that looks for matches to all known exploits and malware.

Check out more impressive features that are packed in this tool:

  • Heuristic monitoring that watches for signs that an attack is underway.
  • Constant updates on malware definitions sent to all users a few times per day.
  • Possibility to opt out of the data collection while you install the software.
  • Autopilot feature to automatically adjust the software’s defensive posture.
  • Safe File feature to immunize important files from ransomware attacks.
  • Password Manager to encrypt your login protocols online. It will pop up for online-payment screens.

Check out more features of this excellent antivirus tool and get Bitdefender from the official website.

Bitdefender

Bitdefender

Protect your HDD with Bitdefender to benefit from 24/7 security and the best next-gen technologies.
$29.99/year Visit website

Emsisoft Anti-Malware

emsisoft anti malware for hdd

Emsisoft Anti-Malware is a well-known security tool that uses great technologies in order to keep your devices safe. You can easily scan and check all your available hardware and you can also connect your external device to your computer and run a malware scan as well.

You must know that Emsisoft Anti-Malware cannot be installed on an external HDD and run whenever it connects, as you need a full-working system in order to have active protection. But you don’t have to bother as Emsisoft Anti-Malware does allow you to encrypt your important files.

The tool also uses a Behavior Blocker technology, which protects you from not yet-known threats, real-time 4-layer protection and runs even on low specs PCs and laptops. It also comes with a 30-day trial version.

Emsisoft Anti-Malware

Emsisoft Anti-Malware

Get the ultimate layered protecion for your HDD with Emsisoft.
$19.99/year Visit website

Panda Security

panda antivirus for hdd

Panda Protection which was previously called Panda Free Antivirus is an excellent free antivirus program that is able to automatically collect threat detection techniques that come from other users who already have this tool installed. This will help protect against both new and upcoming attacks.

Check out more impressive features that are included in Panda antivirus:

  • This tool provides automatic and transparent upgrades.
  • The download file is small, and the installation is straightforward.
  • The tool comes with URL and web monitoring and filtering.
  • It also provides automatic USB protection which means that you’ll be able to protect your external HDD successfully.
  • This antivirus tool is also lightweight and easy on the system’s resources.
  • Panda Protection comes equipped with a real-time antispyware and antivirus engine that will be able to catch threats before they can cause any damage.
  • The parental controls block specific domains, web addresses, programs, and folders from being accessed.
  • It supports multimedia mode and gaming as well.

It also comes with the option to require you to confirm the removal of a virus.

You can check out more exciting functionalities of this antivirus and get Panda Protection from the official website. For your HDD the Panda Cloud Cleaner portable version is the best choice.

Buy Panda Internet Security 

Avast Antivirus

Avast antivirus for hdd

Another great antivirus that can scan your external HDD is Avast Antivirus. The free version of this antivirus offers antivirus and anti-ransomware protection. In addition to malware protection, the free version also has its own password manager that will store all your passwords in one place and protect them from hackers.

The Pro version has various privacy protection features such as Safe Online Shopping and Banking. In addition, this version also allows you to run risky applications and websites without any fear of malware infection. As for protection, it’s worth mentioning that this version has anti-phishing protection that will protect you from malicious websites that want to steal your personal information.

If you want even better protection, there’s the Internet Security version. This version has a built-in ransomware shield as well as firewall. As for additional features, there’s personal data protection and an anti-spam and anti-phishing filter.

For ultimate protection, you can use the Premier version. This version has all the features that other versions have, but it also has a webcam shield feature as well as automatic software updates. Lastly, this version has a file shredder feature as well, so you can use it to permanently delete files.

If you want to scan your PC and external HDD, Avast Antivirus might be the perfect choice for you. The basic version is completely free, but if you want to access advanced features, you’ll need to purchase a license.

Overview:

  • Antivirus and anti-ransomware protection
  • Password manager
  • Secure online banking and shopping
  • Anti-phishing protection
  • Firewall
  • Anti-spam

Get Avast Antivirus

VIPRE Rescue

vipre antivirus for hdd

VIPRE Rescue is a handy and easy to use tool that is designed to clean your computer if you are already infected with malware or viruses and your OS is not working correctly as a result of that infection.

Check out the best features that are included in the program:

  • If you are already running VIPRE software and a virus managed to disable the software, you will still be able to run this program in order to clean your computer.
  • With VIPRE Rescue Essential Installation, you will get up to 2 hours of dedicated remote support for new installations of the program.
  • You will also be able to purchase more time for larger installations.
  • With VIPRE Prime Installation and Optimization Services, you will get up to three hours of dedicated endpoint security installation and optimization support.
  • You can trust the experts from VIPRE for the most comprehensive installation support services.
  • If VIPRE Rescue is not able to catch a threat, you can subscribe online to the lab for further analysis.

Get VIPRE Rescue

ClamWin Portable

ClamAV antivirus for hdd

ClamWin Portable is the well-known ClamWin antivirus that is packaged as a portable app. This means that you will be able to take your antivirus with you to scan your files on the go on your external HDD.

Take a look at some great functionalities that are included in this software:

  • You can put ClamWin Portable on your external HDD and use it on any computer without leaving any personal data behind.
  • The tool comes with high detection rates for spyware and antivirus.
  • ClamWin Portable comes with regular virus database updates.
  • ClamAV regularly updates the virus databases to include a new variant/virus immediately after it appears.

This is a standalone virus scanner that will turn out to work flawlessly. This tool does not include an on-access real-time scanner, and you will need to manually scan a specific file in order to detect a virus or spyware. ClamWin Portable comes with scheduled scans and updates disables because they are not used in a portable scenario.

Get ClamWin Portable


These are the best antivirus tools that you can use on your external HDD, and they all come with impressive sets of features for increased security. These are also known as portable antivirus tools or USB antivirus tools, and they are all ready to scan your files without the need to install them on your system.

The reason for which you definitely need one of these tools is to get a second opinion if you suspect that your primary antivirus may be tempered by a virus or malware. Check out all these tools and get the one that best seems to suit your security needs.


FAQ: Read more about external hard drives

  • What is the best external hard drive?

There are a lot of options for you to choose from, but you might focus on some aspects such as transfer rate or price. Start by taking a look at some recommendations, for instance.

  • Why do external hard drives fail?

Some common reasons are bad sectors, corrupted files, or faulty USB cables. This short guide expands on more possible causes and how to fix the problem.

  • Can an external hard drive be repaired?

Corrupted external hard drives can always bring about data loss. But you can get lost data back using one of the recovery software tools available on the market.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and was revamped and updated in June 2020 with new products so our users can have a wider range of alternatives.