A Quick Guide to Running a Virus Scan on Your Android Device

Eric C. Eric C.

Do you have an antivirus program on your Android device? You likely have one on your computer, but Android devices are just as susceptible to viruses as computers. Hackers are eager to take advantage of the lack of security on your phone, so installing antivirus software on your Android device is important. The hardest part is choosing the right one.

The Importance of Virus Scans on Android

You can’t trust every app in the Google Play Store; Google recently removed 13 malicious apps—apps that hid their icons and downloaded APKs—that had over 560,000 combined downloads. Two of them even made it on to the trending list.

These apps can be hard to spot, but with a reliable antivirus, you can stop apps from installing dangerous APKs on your phone.

You might use your phone to check emails and for online banking, but Android viruses can surface in email attachments, text messages, download links, WhatsApp links, and on dangerous websites. There are so many different types of malware that the security of your phone should be a top priority.

Common Signs That You Have a Virus

Some viruses are easy to spot. Your phone will become littered with popups and other annoying distractions. But this isn’t always the case. Some viruses remain hidden in the background, logging everything you type. Here are a few signs that you may have a virus:

1.    Excessive Data Usage

When a virus has infected your phone, it can run in the background. In some cases, viruses will transmit information from your phone, which should trigger a noticeable spike in your data usage.

2.    Unusual App Crashing

Apps may crash once in a while, but if it seems to crash every time you use it, then you may have a virus.

3.    Adware Pop-Ups

No one likes pop-up ads. While it’s normal for them to appear on safe websites in the form of advertisements, they shouldn’t appear when you’re browser is closed. If they do, you likely have a virus.

4.    Increase in Bill

Some variants of malware will send premium-rate SMS messages from your phone. This can cause an increase in your phone bill because data rates apply. Viruses can even delete incoming messages.

5.    Apps You Didn’t Download

Never click on an app that you don’t remember downloading. It was likely installed by malware on your Android device and should be uninstalled immediately using an antivirus program.

6.    Battery Lifetime Problems

Malware can use a lot of your phone’s energy, making the battery drain quickly. If your phone’s battery seems to drain faster than normal—even instantly after coming off the charger—you may have a virus.

7.    Overheating

Some infected phones have been known to overheat. Keep an eye on this if your phone is suddenly overheating.

How to Perform an Android Virus Scan

There are many reliable antivirus options available in the Google Play Store. Running a virus scan on Android isn’t much different than it is on a Windows computer:

Step 1: Go to the Google Play store to download an antivirus of choice. A quick search for “antivirus” reveals that some of the highest rated options are Bitdefender, AVG, and Norton.

Step 2: Open your antivirus app, create an account if required, and press the scan button. The app will ask for permissions to your camera (anti-theft), contacts (app locking and anti-theft), location (anti-theft), microphone (anti-theft), phone (call blocker), SMS (SMS protection), and storage (scanning). This is normal. The number of permissions required depends on your antivirus and its features.

Step 3: Give the app time to scan your device and check all of your apps for any malicious software.

Step 4: If a threat is found, allow the app to find a solution by clicking “resolve.” Some viruses will be deleted, while others will be quarantined on your phone. Don’t worry. Virus quarantine is a perfectly safe and common practice.

Step 5: If a malicious app is present, uninstall it immediately.

If you want to uninstall the malicious apps manually, there are a few steps to follow:

Step 1: Put your Android in Safe Mode by going to your settings to turn off all third-party access. If your problems suddenly go away, then you’ll know it’s because of malware.

Step 2: Next, figure out which app is the problem. Open your settings and choose the manage apps tab. Look in the downloaded tab for any alarming apps, like ones you don’t remember downloading or ones that are running in the background that shouldn’t be. It could also be the last app you downloaded before your phone started acting strangely.

Step 3: You should be able to remove the app by pressing the uninstall button. But if you find the malware or virus challenging to remove, you may see that the uninstall button is greyed out.

Step 4: Go back into your settings and look for the security tab. Tap “device administrators” to check if the malicious app has access. If it does, press the app and deactivate it. You’ll now be able to uninstall the app.

Step 5: If you still cannot remove a virus after completing a virus scan and attempting a manual attempt, you may need to reset your phone. This should be your last resort, as you will need to back up all of your data before doing so.

Android Antivirus Recommendations


Norton is a trusted name in the cybersecurity industry. They’ve been around for a long time, and the Android version of their antivirus is reliable.

Main Features:

  • Dedicated virus scanner
  • Wi-Fi scanning
  • Safe search that flags unsafe websites in the search results
  • Call blocking to help you detect and block spam calls
  • Lost and stolen phone protection


More than 100,000,000 people have downloaded AVG. This feature-rich app provides a lot of value and will keep your phone or tablet safe.

Main Features:

  • Virus scanning
  • Task killer for optimizing device speed
  • Power saver
  • Space saver for deleting unnecessary files
  • Lost or stolen phone locator
  • VPN for anonymous web browsing
  • Wi-Fi scanner
  • Insights into app permissions
  • Encrypt photos in a vault
  • Lock sensitive apps using a PIN or fingerprint


Bitdefender is rated at a 4.6 on the Google Play Store and has more than 145,900 downloads. The app won the Best Android Security Product award in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Main Features:

  • Autopilot that provides security recommendations
  • Malware scanner
  • VPN
  • Account privacy for checking compromised accounts
  • App locking
  • Anti-theft
  • Web protection
  • WearON feature that extends Bitdefender coverage to your smartwatch


BullGuard is less well-known than some of the other options, but that doesn’t make it any less secure. The app is highly rated and will keep your device safe.

Main Features:

  • Virus scanner
  • Anti-theft
  • SIM protection that locks your SIM if your device is lost or stolen
  • One-tap back up
  • Call manager
  • Mobile security manager


Malwarebytes started as a dedicated anti-malware program. It’s now made its way to mobile devices and has expanded its feature list.

Main Features:

  • Ransomware detector
  • Call blocker
  • Browser protection
  • Malicious link scanner
  • Privacy audits for all apps

Protect Your Android Devices

You need an antivirus app on your Android devices. Not only are mobile devices the most popular way to access the Internet, but the Android platform is the most used operating system in the world. Hackers know this, and they are constantly developing new malware to infect your Android devices.

Antivirus security isn’t optional anymore. With threats lurking around every corner of the web, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself.

About the Author
Eric C.
Eric C.
Expert on Cyber Security, Fintech, and Cryptocurrency

About the Author

Eric is a former writer at SafetyDetectives. He's professional cyber tech expert with almost a decade of experience writing about security and tech. In recent years, he has been focused heavily on the rapidly developing fintech and cryptocurrency industries and how they relate to online security.