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If a virus scanner (like Microsoft Security Essentials, for example) comes across a symlink'd folder, will it follow through and scan that respective folder, be it on another drive (and how every many levels deep)?

I'm in the process of excluding some programs/folders from my scanners, and I'm having a bit of a question mark on how the virus scanner will respond to a symlink -- I need to decide whether to exclude the symlink source folder or target folder, but I'm not sure how the antivirus will respond to such (and I don't have access to a logging feature to show the inner workings of a scan).

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Unless the Anti-Virus is simlink aware, the symlink will appear as another folder. So the default behavior would be to scan the folder.

The common issue that Symlinks (and hardlinked folders) present scanning software isn't whether it will detect the link. It looks like any other folder. The common problem presented to scanning software is due to the fact that symlinks, along with a poorly designed folder hierarchy, can create a loop. Since they look just like any other folder, the scanning software will have no idea it is traversing the same folders over and over again.

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The answer may vary for every product, but I would think in general it should follow the symlink as the AV program should not distinguish it from a regular folder.

You can download the EICAR test file and place it in the folder with the symbolic link and do a scan to see if your AV program detects it.

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