ClamWin Antivirus Review 2024: Open Source Pearl or Just Another Shell?

Explore how a free antivirus program like ClamWin can protect your Windows device so you don’t lose it to cyber threats in an ocean of viruses and malware.
3.5
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On ClamWin's website

ClamWin
  • Open-source and free
  • Microsoft Outlook integration
  • No real-time protection
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If you’re looking for a free and open-source antivirus solution for a Windows PC or laptop, ClamWin can be a good choice if you’re on a budget.

ClamWin is based on the ClamAV antivirus engine. It scans for viruses, malware, and other threats to your Windows device. It offers manual and scheduled scanning of your hard drives, memory, and files including your emails. However, it falls short by not offering real-time scanning, requiring manual intervention to check for viruses, malware, or other threats.

Keep reading our ClamWin antivirus review to find out how it provides adequate protection for Windows devices without breaking the bank and to learn more about its features.

In this article
ClamWin antivirus review at a glance
Who is ClamWin best for?
ClamWin antivirus features
ClamWin antivirus test results
Our ClamWin experience
ClamWin compatibility
ClamWin customer support
ClamWin is free to use, but is it worth it?
ClamWin antivirus FAQs
Bottom line: Is ClamWin antivirus good?

ClamWin antivirus review at a glance

Price Free
Real-time protection No
Malware scans Manual and scheduled
Email scan Yes (through Microsoft Outlook integration)
Firewall No
Parental controls No
Learn more Get ClamWin Antivirus
Data as of 06/16/23.

Who is ClamWin best for?

  • Recommended for Windows users seeking basic, free virus protection

Having a computer virus infect your Windows device is never fun. In this age of viruses, malware, and other cyber threats, your PC or laptop should have basic antivirus protection. That is why ClamWin free antivirus makes a good choice for Windows users on a budget — it’s accessible to all Windows users for free.

ClamWin is easy to download, install, and use. This makes it easy for anyone to set up, no matter how tech-savvy they are or how unfamiliar they are with antivirus programs. Even though it isn’t the best antivirus software, it is free and does a good job of keeping your computer safe.

Thus, ClamWin is a good choice for anyone who is willing to forgo real-time protection for a free antivirus solution that scans and removes viruses from hard drives, memory, files, and emails.

Looking for Stronger Antivirus Protection? Bitdefender Is Our No. 1 Choice for Windows
4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bitdefender's website
Bitdefender
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees

ClamWin pros and cons

Pros
  • Open-source and free
  • Manual and scheduled scans
  • Easy-to-use
  • Microsoft Outlook integration
Cons
  • Compatible with Windows only
  • No real-time protection
  • Slower scan speed
  • Outdated user interface

ClamWin antivirus features

ClamWin does not have all the bells and whistles that full-featured antivirus software does. But as a free and easy-to-use antivirus program, its manual and scheduled scanning options and integration with Microsoft Outlook and Windows Explorer can make it a good choice for people on a tight budget who regularly use the internet and check email.

ClamWin also lets you schedule antivirus scans.

ClamWin isn’t flawless, though. First, it only works with Windows (sorry, Apple and Linux fans). Next, it doesn’t automatically check files for threats as they open or run, which may turn off users who prefer a beefier antivirus solution like Bitdefender or TotalAV antivirus. Finally, its scanning speed is slow compared to other antivirus solutions.

ClamWin antivirus integrates with Microsoft Outlook to help protect you from phishing emails.

Need antivirus for your Mac?

We tested dozens of antivirus programs with our MacBooks and found MacKeeper, AVG, and Avast always delivered. Check out our best antivirus for Mac review to learn more.

Malware and antivirus scan

ClamWin offers manual and scheduled antivirus scans but not quick scans. Although it may take a while to complete a scan, it thoroughly scans your computer’s hard drive, memory, or files for viruses. It can even check your emails.

ClamWin antivirus scans your device drives, memory, and Outlook emails.

Moreover, ClamWin uses the ClamAV virus database to obtain the latest virus definitions. They can also be downloaded manually if you want to be sure the database is up to date.

You can update the ClamAV virus definitions automatically or manually.

Some of you may wonder, "Does ClamWin remove viruses?" It does eliminate detected threats, though you need to start the removal process manually. ClamWin can also scan your Microsoft Office docs for embedded malware.

You can set ClamWin to scan your MS Office docs.

ClamWin uses ClamAV engine's virus database, which is updated multiple times each day. You can download the latest virus definitions as a .cvd file.

Phishing protection

Microsoft Outlook users can scan incoming and outgoing emails as well as any attachments with ClamWin. If the antivirus detects a virus in an email attachment, it replaces that attachment with a report file. As a result, your Windows PC or laptop is safe from any phishing attacks that might otherwise compromise it.

Keep in mind, however, that since ClamWin is free software, it may lack the robust anti-phishing tools found in paid subscription plans.

Microsoft Outlook integration is a standout feature of ClamWin. It helps prevent phishing by automatically scanning email attachments for potential threats.

Firewall

A firewall can protect your device from unauthorized access or prevent malware from infecting it by blocking unauthorized incoming and outgoing connections.

ClamWin does not have a firewall, but if you already have one, this isn’t too big of a deal. ClamWin automatically adds another layer of protection to Windows Defender's built-in firewall or another third-party firewall.

If you don’t have or use a firewall, it’s strongly recommended that you implement one.

Real-time protection

The biggest drawback with ClamWin is that it doesn’t offer real-time protection. This feature, which is available in antivirus programs like TotalAV, protects you in advance by scanning files as you open them.

For real-time protection, you should consider other options like Bitdefender, McAfee, or Norton, our top three picks for the best Windows antivirus protection.

Anti-fraud protection

ClamWin also lacks anti-fraud protection. Practicing safe browsing and taking extra security measures, such as installing security updates and using strong passwords, is important for complete protection. You might also check out identity theft protection services for additional tools like dark web scans, credit reports, and identity recovery.

ClamWin antivirus test results

We couldn’t find any published third-party protection tests for ClamWin, but this isn’t surprising.

Most third-party antivirus testing organizations charge a fee to test antivirus programs. As a free program, ClamWin may lack the funds and resources necessary to pay for these tests. Keep in mind, though, that that doesn’t mean that ClamWin is automatically a bad product.

Our ClamWin experience

We used an Acer Predator laptop with Windows 11 Home as our operating system to test the latest version of ClamWin, 0.103.2.1. The download link is easily accessible via the main menu on the ClamWin website.

When we first opened ClamWin, we noticed right away that the interface looked dated. However, the toolbar's selection of options was straightforward to navigate.

There were numerous options available under Preferences:

ClamWin's basic settings

  • General
  • Email Alerts
  • Limits: Allows you to set the maximum number of megabytes to scan for all files, including those from the archives

ClamWin antivirus's Limits preferences

  • Filters: Tells ClamWin to skip scans for certain types of files
  • File Locations

ClamWin's Filters preferences

  • Internet Updates
  • Reports
  • Email Scanning
  • Advanced: Option to enable extraction of attachments and macros from Microsoft Office documents, since these can host viruses
  • Proxy
  • Scheduled Scans

We liked that ClamWin gave us the option to run a scan on any drive on our device (in this case, our C: and D: drives), including our device's memory or only specific files. We could also scan our emails and set up email alerts to let us know when a virus was found.

You can set up hourly, daily, workday, and weekly scans in the scheduler. We were disappointed that scanning one of our hard drives took more than an hour, which is quite slow compared to other antivirus software.

ClamWin compatibility

ClamWin only works on PCs and laptops that run Windows; there is no compatibility with macOS. Here’s the complete list of Windows versions that ClamWin is compatible with.

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Me
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows 98
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2003

ClamWin customer support

There is no live chat, phone, or email support for ClamWin users, which is a major drawback. It’s a free antivirus, though, so that's not unexpected.

The app does have support as an option in its main menu, which redirects you to their community-driven user forum to ask other ClamWin users for help or get solutions. ClamWin’s website also has an FAQ section. (At this time, however, the user forums seem to be offline.)

Lastly, ClamWin has help guides available in the program itself should you need help with installation or configuration.

ClamWin is free to use, but is it worth it?

As a free and open-source solution, ClamWin antivirus offers useful functions like manual virus and email scanning. However, it lacks premium features like real-time scanning and an integrated firewall. If you can’t afford to pay for an antivirus solution, then ClamWin may be worth it.

But for anyone who can squeeze an antivirus subscription into their budget, we recommend a paid antivirus program for more protection. Consider other antivirus software like Bitdefender, TotalAV, and McAfee, which provided real-time defenses and performed well in our hands-on testing.

ClamWin antivirus FAQs


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How effective is ClamWin?

ClamWin offers a decent level of protection against viruses, particularly for a free product. However, it lacks real-time scanning, which can compromise its effectiveness compared to other solutions.


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Is ClamWin safe to use?

Yes, ClamWin is safe to use. It relies on ClamAV’s virus definitions to secure your devices, and both are open-source software. 

While ClamWin may not be updated regularly, its virus database and ClamAV are consistently updated. Also, people can send in samples of viruses and spyware that have not yet been added to the database. Keep in mind, though, that no software can ever guarantee 100% safety.


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What’s better than ClamAV and ClamWin?

If you're looking for more comprehensive features, Bitdefender, TotalAV, and McAfee are solid alternatives.


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Does ClamWin remove infected files?

ClamWin can find and remove infected files. However, due to the lack of real-time scanning, it won’t automatically stop a virus upon entry.

Bottom line: Is ClamWin antivirus good?

We liked that ClamWin is free and provides basic, essential antivirus protection for Windows PCs and laptops. But it lacks some advanced features like real-time protection that are available in paid alternatives.

Still, if you can’t afford a paid antivirus solution, we believe it’s better to have basic antivirus protection rather than none at all. There are better free alternatives to ClamWin that we cover in our guide to the best free antivirus protection.

However, if you're looking for more comprehensive protection, you may want to check out our guide on the best antivirus software for recommendations on what to look for and which antivirus programs to check out next.

3.5
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On ClamWin's website
ClamWin
  • Open-source and free
  • Microsoft Outlook integration
  • No real-time protection
Author Details
Mars is a cybersecurity professional and writer based in California. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity, he serves as an Advisory Board Member for WEBGAP, specializing in browser isolation. With an interest in OSINT, ethical hacking, and threat intelligence, Mars enjoys writing security content and has experience as a Security Researcher, Cybersecurity Analyst (WEBGAP), and Editor-in-chief (Secjuice).