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Antivirus False Positives and How You Can Fix Them In 2021

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antivirus False Positives

If you scan your computer using your antivirus scanner and label your legitimate files as malware, it is called false positive. That’s because anti-phishing and computer firewalls can detect false positives at a browser level and network, respectively.

It can be annoying to consider your legitimate file as malware, but your Antivirus software should warn you about false positives rather than to slip a malware. If your security software flags a file, you can do the following to check if the file is malicious or legitimate.

  • Ensure to double-check the file using a good antivirus scanner.
  • Make sure to examine the file on your gadget
  • Use a search engine.
  • Use a third-party virus database.
  • You can chat with customer support to check your software’s base.

Having a false positive is not a negative effect as you can think of. The software just wants to make sure that you’re opening a legitimate file or website. But, if your antivirus software keeps on returning you a false positive, you might need to adjust the scan settings of your software. If it doesn’t work, you should consider downloading a new one.

How To Determine A False Positive?

Sometimes, false positives happen when your security software, such as Antivirus, flags your file as a virus. While the other antivirus software returns a few false positives, it doesn’t mean that software is one hundred percent resistant to false positives.

Security software like Antivirus has relatively strict criteria for checking whether the file is malware or safe. Occasionally, they might mark a third-party password because they write registered entries and produce attainable files. This situation is very similar to what crypto hackers and rootkits do.

Additionally, your software might give you a false alarm on gadgets that use a third-party network to avoid website traffic. VPN or Virtual Private Networks are one of the many networks that have this feature. However, some scanners treat some VPNs as malicious malware and block them from operating.

In this world of computer networks, there are many reasons why a false positive may happen. It depends on the type of virus scanner that you’re using. Check some of the tools below that are typically used by your virus scanners for you to know why they could give you a false positive.

  • Heuristics
  • PUP Blockers
  • Action Analysis
  • Signature-based

Actual Virus Vs False Positive

When your antivirus software marks your file as a virus, don’t worry because the software won’t quickly delete it. You can access the isolated file by clicking the quarantine key button in your Antimalware security. After you’ve accessed the file, it will give you the location and information about the said file.

By having this information, you can do a variety of things to know and try if your Antivirus isolated a virus file or a legitimate file. Here are the things you might want to try to determine the safety of your file.

  • Do a quick search on Google – you can check them and find the details of the file, including some reviews by other people, forums, and community posts. If the review section has some negative comments, the file might be a threat to your computer.
  • Constantly update your Antivirus – sometimes, outdated Antivirus can give you false alarms for a program that has been deleted from your database. If that’s the case, ensure that your Antivirus is up to date and rerun a scan.
  • Use VirusTotal to double-check the software – Another way to further check the file is through VirusTotal Website. You can upload your file to their website to examine if the file is malicious or not.

What Should You Do If You Encounter A False Positive?

If you’re done doing all the steps above, and still you’re not satisfied with the result, you can whitelist your file so that it will not appear as a false positive. However, not all Antivirus have the same features, but the process of doing it might be similar. Check the procedure below.

Locate the whitelist on the sub-menu. You can find the submenu in your scanner, antivirus settings, or quarantine folder. But, take note that it also depends on what type of Antivirus you are using.

  1. Locate the whitelist on the sub-menu. You can find the submenu in your scanner, antivirus settings, or quarantine folder. But, take note that it also depends on what type of Antivirus you are using.
  2. After locating the whitelist, place the file into the whitelist file. Afterward, you might be asked to incorporate a direct path into your file. It means that you need to copy-paste the software’s location from your window explorer.
  3. The next step you should do is to save and restart your antivirus software.
  4. Lastly, run a scan one more time to ensure that the file or program is whitelisted.

Furthermore, you need to submit a sample of your file to your antivirus vendor to re-examine if you have confidence that your file is wrongly flagged.

How To Prevent Antivirus From Returning Your File As A False Positive?

Try the above step if you think that your file is one hundred percent safe and should not be flagged as a false positive. You can place your legitimate file on the whitelisting area of your antivirus. However, as I mentioned above, not all antivirus settings are similar.

Depending on your vendor, the option of whitelisting might be a little different. You can try to find the whitelisting area on the scanner window or at the quarantine menu. You should see the option that has a button that says exceptions, allowed lists, and whitelist. After you’ve located these three, add your false positive file into the list, then save it.

Afterwards, reset your software, then scan the file again. In this way, the false positive will not be flagged anymore. Another reason why your software keeps returning you a false positive file is because you are using a buggy antivirus program. If that’s the case, it’s time to change and select a better antivirus for your computer.


If the above solutions still don’t work on your problem, you need to re-download your antivirus software or find another one. However, it will not be guaranteed that your new software will not return a false positive file on you. But, it could lower the percentage of a false positive program or file.


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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