Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Depending on where you're downloading your music files from, you may or may not be downloading a virus instead.

Is it possible to get a virus from a music download?

As with all things, it depends.

If by "music download" you mean that you are downloading music files, MP3's, and the equivalent from trustworthy sources, then the news is good.

But if you mean something else, well, then things could be very bad indeed.

Music files such as MP3, WAV, and the like are highly unlikely to contain viruses. In theory I suppose, they could, but as I said it's highly unlikely and I've certainly never heard of one.

If you mean downloading music tools and programs, then you need to be very careful. Anything that's a program; a music player or a peer-to-peer networking program could contain viruses, spyware, or both. In fact, the peer-to-peer file sharing program Kazaa is notorious for the spyware that it carries with it.

Finally, if you're downloading from an untrustworthy site, all sorts of things are possible. It's quite possible that a site offering what it claims is a music file could, instead, be offering a different type of file entirely. Including a virus.

Article C2190 - September 18, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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58 Comments
Andrew
October 26, 2004 3:50 AM

If you just download an MP3 file, there is no way you can get a virus. An mp3 file is a type of compression for music (and a file format). It cannot execute anything on your computer.

Leo
October 27, 2004 4:47 AM

As I said in the article, it's not likely, but possible. There has been at least one reported virus in an mp3 file that targets a vulnerability in older versions of WinAmp.

keithjr
November 2, 2004 11:01 AM

Viruses spread through the P2P programs, and execute through vunerabilities and holes in them. They arent in the actual music files, but transferred through programs like morpheus, kazaa, etc.

tao
December 6, 2004 4:22 PM

Are the risks created by P2P programs limited to the computer running the program or are all computers on the same network (my home network for example) exposed?

Leo
December 6, 2004 8:47 PM

It's *mostly* the computer the P2P program's been installed on, but I wouldn't rule out the others. Bottom line is that many of the P2P programs just can't be trusted.

Kitsu
February 25, 2005 6:31 AM

The Winamp vulnerability had nothing to do with music files. The earlier versions of Winamp had a built in browser (much like Explorer), and that is where the vulnerability existed.

Liz
March 5, 2005 11:09 AM

Well, what's a safe p2p program to use? Are there any out there? currently i use Limewire, and used to use kazaa, which i don't like at all.

Graham
April 5, 2005 4:45 PM

what is the most safe MP3 downloading site/program available for use with MAC and an iPod?
-I've heard that the safest ones are the ones you have to pay for; is that true?-I've tried to find something as good and as safe as iTunes, but with a monthly fee instead of charging 99C a song.

Jeff
April 16, 2005 8:16 PM

Napster offers a subscription service for a monthly fee.

adroy
April 19, 2005 2:08 PM

if in fact it does have a virus.... if i put it on my IPOD will it crash my IPOD... and does limewire itself carry any viruses ... where is the safest place to download it???

dave
August 8, 2005 4:55 AM

i have been downloading music from limewire to my ipod, today my ipod crashed and won't even switch on. do you think the two are linked, and if so how can it be fixed?

maria
August 16, 2005 2:15 AM

i realize there have been many ppl asking plenty of questions on here...but i just need a simple answer...which programs would u SUGGEST or gaurantee?. and if the answer is NONE..then im guessing nothing is ever safe when it comes to technology:P..

Leo
August 16, 2005 9:58 AM

I'm a happy iTunes user, and can easily recommend that.

Basically anything that's *free* - or rather, anything that allows you to download free music illegally, is VERY suspect. They often make money by including tons of spyware in the file sharing programs (Kazaa is a great example).

aaron
October 1, 2005 10:53 AM

man the safest p2p sharing program out there is winmx although it is kinda slow winmx is the program to use if u dont want a bunch of crap on ur comp. but the bad news is that winmx took a crap on people and they have to shut the whole business down!!!!!!! and that sucks but i am currently using nooooo p2p file sharing program.

gary
December 9, 2005 12:21 AM

My kid's iPod 20gb crashed last night while listening to a freshly downloaded Limewire tune. We found fairly detailed troubleshooting suggestions on Apple's site re how to reset it but nothing worked. We could hear a clicking sound which sounded a lot like a dead drive. This iPod was 9 days under 1 year old so it was still under warranty.

Toniight we called the Apple store who told us with the warranty we could come in and pickup a replacement. We went to the Apple store and were given a refurb which looks brand new. HOWEVER, when my kid loaded his tunes into the new refurb it crapped out, too - within 5 minutes. Interesting thing is it crapped out on the same Limewire downloaded tune he was listening to when the first iPod crashed??? Bad job on the refurb, coincidence or a viral download??? Anybody heard of such???

TJ
December 27, 2005 9:21 PM

My experience is that all p2p systems that I have used have finally resulted in a virus. Limewire gave me no probelms for months but I recently began some downloads of music videos, .mpg format, and got a warning from Limewire that one file was corrupt. Limewire locked up my pc and I needed to delete Limewire and a few corrupted other files to begin a computer clean-up. The idea is good but requires vigilance. I will delete all cookies, Temp int files and anything else that looks suspicious and try Limewire again but these viruses are well concealed.

Sarah
January 14, 2006 5:25 PM

Yes it is possible to get a virus from a downloading service. I've used WinMX which was great but I think they went out a business or got in trouble and closed. Then I used Limewire, not all files have virus's but some do and you dont know which ones they are. I got 6 virus's from useing Limewire. My norton or windoes safe mode cleanup could not fix the problem. I had to call dell and have them work with me on Reformatting my computer. It cost me $99.00. My computer is free and clean from junk now, and I will never download again.

Shelby
January 18, 2006 2:03 PM

Ok...So i downloaded my cd's onto my ipod shuffle.....i need to charge it by hooking it up to my computer...my computer has many many things wrong with it....is it possible for the viruses and whatever is wrong with my computer to transfer somehow to my ipod and my ipod not work too???..... please e-mail or im me!!!
[Email Address Removed]

Mary
January 24, 2006 7:05 PM

Yes, it's more than possible, it's probable, if you use LimeWire. I used Limewire for months without seeming problems, but a couple of days ago, got a trojan virus that pops up on start-up. I delete it, then when I reboot the computer, it comes up again. In addition, Limewire developed a weird bug where it kept relaunching itself anytime I'd close it. I tried resetting every option that might trigger it, but it wouldn't stop relaunching. I uninstalled it, which solved the problem. But then I redownloaded it from the official LimeWire site, and the program kept doing the relaunching bit all over again. I'm still trying to get rid of the trojan (trying a new antivirus program). DO NOT USE LIMEWIRE. It's a tempting program, gives lots of results, and lots of speedy downloads. But you will get infected sometime, trust me. I never had problems like that with Kazaa or iMesh; some spyware, but no viruses, worms, or trojans. LimeWire is nasty stuff, not worth a few free music downloads.

franksta
January 27, 2006 11:14 AM

i just bought my ipod mini in america for xmas and i came back to englang and was using cds to put on my ipod but then i was putting songs from limewire onto it and was listening to it for a couple of days then one day i put it down an when i went to go and turn it on it wasnt turning on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so i tried resetting it and charging it but nothing worked so i then heard that you cant put song from limewire onto your ipod because you can catch a virus but that was after! Is there anything that i can do??? i was crying and everything i couldnt believe it!!!! please help me is there anything???!!!

Me
February 3, 2006 4:28 PM

We just bought a new laptop and my friend wants to put a whole heap of limewire music, namely 50 cent, other rappers and dance music. Figuring that those types of songs are most popular and would be most likely to contain viruses i said no. We have trouble with our desktop and we've been using Limewire for ages...

Mr. Doodles
February 21, 2006 7:17 AM

I bought my HP Media PC 3 days ago. I downloaded LimeWire mmm yesterday and last night i got a virus with a program i was DL. So it took me less the 24hours to get somethen from Lime. Lime is like a slut shes hot and she will get you off but will leave you with a nasty STD or worse so stay away from LIME!!!

martin
February 28, 2006 1:32 PM

It is extremly easy to get a virus from downloading music because there are fake file's which are just viruses and while it say's something like finding sources it is actually putting several viruses into your pc. Lmewire has a thing in it which controls your computer i don't know what it is called but i will find out.

fallenangel820
March 5, 2006 4:26 PM

Okay, Limewire I don't really know about, but from what I've read eventually you WILL get a virus from it. As for KaZaa, it is the worst music downloader you can get. It installs a nasty little virus called altnet that is virtually impossible to get rid of. Imesh will also allow many viruses to get through to you. This is my observations on things.

greg
March 7, 2006 9:41 AM

I installed limewire - downloaded a few songs and thought is was to slow so I bought the pro version but when I wanted to uninstall the basic version it wouldn't let me and said the files are corrupted- so now I can't install the pro version or delete the basic- Sent a few e-mails to the support desk but they are not helpful- How do I get rid of this problem--Pls help!!!!!

Posted by: greg at March 6, 2006 09:59 AM

sorry i missed a letter in my e-mail address -pls reply on this message

Animus
March 9, 2006 12:54 PM

I'd suggest getting Shareaza. Has NO parasites bundled with it and is goes pretty fast for me. But I'm on dial-up, so I'm not sure how fast it goes on high-speed connections. I know that Morpheus came with a couple trojans and went super-slow (and average of 0.3 - 2 BYTES per second. Kazaa, as everyone knows comes with lots of parasites. I tried Limewire, but it also came bundled with parasites. Shareaza is the only one I've been happy with so far. It's been great the last few months. As with all p2p programs, you have to watch what you download. They aren't going to scan every file uploaded/downloaded ya know.

Husam
March 13, 2006 4:05 PM

I have an Mp3 and a very expensive computer and i want to download songs for my mp3 and i dont want my computer dto get a virus. My friend keep on telling me to buy cds but i only want 1 song from each artist so i think its too expensive.is ther any music download sites that have no viruses?

Leo
March 13, 2006 6:29 PM

I've been very happy with iTunes.

Millhouse
June 4, 2006 8:33 PM

How do i find viruses on songs that i downloaded? my brother wont tell me how and i want to no. also i have limewire and i wanted to no how do i get the songs from limewire to Windows Media Player.

L.S
June 15, 2006 3:21 AM

Practically 95% of program downloads on Limewire are corrupted or include trojans/worms. Music files/videos and other downloads availbable on the program do also include viruses but not as much as if you do a search on a program. Off my head I remember file sizes: "851.7, 0.00, 0.00, 69.4" there's quite a few more but I'm not at home and this computer doesn't allow me to access the website with the viruses on. Go to www.download.com, do a search on Limewire and read the user reviews, a poster listed all of the viruses to look out for.

Sonia
July 13, 2006 8:05 PM

Okay...so how do I get rid off a virus called "downloader"? I got it from limewire and I don't know what to do. A messege keeps popping saying that my computer is infected and can not be deleted.

jackson bittner
August 3, 2006 1:40 AM

i have an apple ipod and i also use limewire to download free to music. if i transfer songs to i tunes then to m ipod is it still possible i might get a virus from any of the mp3 files on to the actual ipod? i kno if i have the songs if there was a virus i would have it on my computer and i could delete it but if ipods can get viruses i would like to kno how to get rid of them.

Jay
August 12, 2006 7:10 AM

It is infact possible to get a virus from a mp3 file but as you say it is unlikely this can only be done by using binding tools, you can bind a media file to a standard .exe which could be a virus also you would notice a different in the size of the file if there was an exe attached. :)

nathon
October 7, 2006 11:28 AM

So basically there is no way to tell whether what you are downloading is in fact a virus?

Joe Pro
December 6, 2006 6:39 PM

I downloaded a movie yesterday from Limewire (Benchwarmers) and updated it to my iPod and today i cant get it to work. i tried to connect it to my computer to charge and, similar to chris south's problem (posted Oct. 28), my computer wont recognize it. this is an emergency because my research paper that is due this coming monday is saved to my iPod. Is it possible that a movie or song in my iPod had a virus (most likely Benchwarmers b/c its the last thing i put on the iPod)?

.:.MAD.:.
January 9, 2007 1:58 PM

i would like to know more about the viruses that were on your ipod devices and what program/source were they derived from.. were they installed to your ipods using itunes?? curiosity kills!? :) thnx

xxnatzxx
February 6, 2007 9:12 AM

Is there a good chance that if i downloaded limewire that i would get viruses on my computer, even though i have noton anti-virus and internet security 2007?

pat
April 14, 2007 12:56 PM

Ok, well basicaly there is know actualy software that is safe couse i could buy movie burn to my computer then attach a file to it then upload it people download it well then you know have a virus so say when im on limewire just look at how big the file is and ect and format. but um mostly the only why would be to get a really good antivirus/spyware software program and scan files befor opening it and well i sugest AVG just goto www.google.com type avg free and top link is hompage PS "if its the homepage of a big company well then its trust worthei" also Any p2p prgram is were the people that downloaded it drag and drop files from there computer into the folder so when you type a keyword in it will pop up so limewire isnt trust ful i have it cause i know what im doing. and also if you have like a few computers on you crapyest one put the prgram that you think might have a virus have some anti-malware programs on it and if nothing bad happens to your computer well then its safe. but if it goes hay wire than its bad all you have to do is reformat and reinstall windows but um using caza, limewire, morphesus, and any other p2p prgram to download music so you dont have to pay for it or a file so you dont have to pay for it is illegal. and you could reformat your ipod i think never tried it but yea my ipod wouldnt connect eaither.

ally
August 9, 2007 7:13 PM

it is actually possible...and its been happening.the virus erases all of your music.it really sucks.lol

danny
August 30, 2007 8:07 PM

i want to download limewire and i have trend micro anti virus pro and spy sweeper is there still a chance of getin a virus

Julian K Bowler
September 10, 2007 9:52 AM

Yep... I have seen computers that have been using lime wire to download all sorts of stuff and very quickly got infected with Spywear, in one case it was spyfalcon 2.0 very very nasty indeed. but is could probably be one of hundreds or thousands of spywear infections. Lime Wire is an absolute NO NO NO NO if you want to avoid getting spywear on your computer. But this begs lots of questions, one is where exactly can you get MP3 downloads from that is safe from Spyweare Malweare and Viruses. We will be investigating.. this quite a bit...
go here: http://www.chephrenrepairs.com/antivirus.htm
and here http;//www.chephrenrepairs.com We will be writing quite a bit about this over the coming months and years, why because people very much want to know how to get music downloads safely...

lugene dortch
September 11, 2007 8:04 AM

how do you get a virus off a ipod suffle for good

lugene dortch
September 11, 2007 8:05 AM

I deleted the files and the virus is still on the ipod suffle

V3nomous
October 22, 2007 1:27 PM

It is not possible as of yet, to embed executable code into a MP3 file. Same goes for all other audio formats. The MP3 format can contain macro code which is read and 'run' by the associated program, but because of a few reasons, it has not been possible to embed any type of virus into these macro strings. Limewire is actually very safe to use, bearing in mind you know how to check for file size and TYPE. Such as downloading a music file with the MP3, WMA or RM extension and not the horrendous amount of EXE search string latchers. As for attaching a virus to another file, this is easy and possible. However, once again, you can NOT run it when attached to a music file which remains in MP3 format. It must first be attached, and the file changed to EXE format to be run as a program, therefore executing the code. Don't be fooled by files with elongated names. Such examples of this are anything that says '.jpg','.mp3','.wma'...etc etc, with a few tens of hundreds of periods thereafter, followed by the obvious .EXE. Remember kids, use your heads!

Lissi
November 14, 2007 6:55 PM

I have just had the same problem with something erasing all of my music and everything else from my ipod. Does anyone know how to fix this?

Jeremy
June 5, 2008 8:56 PM

Just for the record... I was downloading some music from limewire with an .mp3 extension, and my AVG Free picked it up as having an embedded trojan.

From what I've read on other forums, and from my own personal knowledge of computers, a file does not just have to be an .EXE to contain a virus. Every file is code, and that code is run by any program that is associated with it... If a certain file, being an .exe, .jpg, .gif, .mp3 has embedded code that can exploit (take advantage of) the program that it is intended to run in, then that file is deemed harmful.

You can never be too safe.

Jeremy
June 5, 2008 8:58 PM

And yes...ANYTHING is possible.

Littleleslie
August 9, 2008 4:18 PM

HELP! My Ipod 40 GB has crashed and I found out it was because I had many songs on my itunes that were infected with viruses. Yes, yes, they are mostly from Limewire, some are from CD's I've purchased. But, my friend showed me how to scan the songs, and so I did and deleted any that were infected and I have downloaded more songs but before I hook up any Ipod to sinc it again, I will again scan the songs FIRST. Well, my 40 GB Ipod is still crashed and I can't seem to restore it. Is there any way that I can fix it to again download the now scanned songs back into my Ipod? If anyone has any ideas, please help! I don't have a lot of experience with technical computer tasks, and many of the young kids I work with have been helping me, but even they don't know what I should do to fix my Ipod now. I have to save up to buy another Ipod, but I don't even want to do that if this will and can happen again if I don't have all the viruses and attachments gone out of my computer where I have my songs. I've read that someone here who commented had lost 2 Ipod's. So, Leo...do you have any advice for what I should do now??? Thanks, Littleleslie

Ash
September 26, 2008 3:14 AM

i have only downloaded about 3 songs on limewire. 2 of them were viruses. one was so bad i had to reformat to get rid of the cheeky bugger. and it was definitely a MP3 extension (not exe). AVG didn't pick up on it until too late. Luckily the second virus was picked up by Kaspersky when i clicked 'play'. That was a good little investment. but in any case, i think its best not to play the song (in limewire or by external players) until you scan the file first. Then remember where you got it from and send the file holder a polite message.

Wew
October 9, 2008 6:44 AM

Just like me i got spyware in the limewire download, it is so hard to deleate the spyware and the one major chance is to reformat it so i take my mind to reformat my pc so that it will be deleted so gud luck to you guys if u will downlod a song!

huh
October 9, 2008 6:52 AM

But i guess they said that if u download a song to limewire they said make sure the stars were fulled i mean more population downloading it and they said it doesn't contain virus i'm not sure but i guess so

Mark
April 30, 2009 4:10 AM

In an explorer window go to Tools->Folder options->view and un-check "hide extensions for known file types" option. This is one of the most dangerous defaults settings of all time.

It's possible to name an executable file as for example picture.jpg.exe and if the extension is hidden you might be fooled into thinking you have a picture file. If you have a file with a double extension where the final extension is executable odds are high its a virus.

Also beware of screen saver files .scr. The name means screen saver but your computer handles it exactly the same as an .exe file.

kc katalyst
May 1, 2009 10:14 PM

i have a nano chromatic and i had a few songs from limewire on it and now it wont even turn on... when i connect it to the charger it wont charge...not even with a wall charger...
can someone help me....

Kenny
July 12, 2009 6:18 PM

For people who use Limewire, It's ok maybe to download ONE or TWO songs you want really badly a month.. but don't go crazy and download everything you think you might like... and you have to be POSITIVE that it's not a virus

Some Precautions to take would be:
If the Song/Video/Whatever contains only lowercase letters (i know it sounds stupid, but i tested it out. First lowercase download was infected with spyware)

If it has porn in the title, Don't download it obviously

If the song is Really small in file size, or has a short length (as in 0:01-0:30 or so), Its a virus most likely

And if its title is virus, It's probably a virus

Also, Don't risk downloading ANY programs from Limewire. I wouldn't be to sure about any videos either.

Ben
October 6, 2009 11:28 AM

See i have a Mac. Problem solved. Limewire is a free iTunes for me. yes i have downloaded viruses but they just sit there and wait for me to delete them. iChill w/ Virises lol hehehe |_ O |_ iHAPPY

Maggie
August 2, 2010 9:53 AM

i just purchased a pc two days ago, when i went on limewire AND paid to suscribe (included protection)and to youtube to check if it was the right song. I caught the only virus! Not only did I dish out cash to purchase this BRAND NEW PC, but add to that the repair I had to have them make on it's very first day of me having it!!! Now I'm panicking because I want to download lost songs onto my IPOD and don't trust that it will happen again although I had another program to protect my pc installed.

Arun
September 8, 2011 12:44 PM

What if a person has a Speech recognition software on their machine which is capable of decoding 2Hz sound as 0(bit) and 4Hz sound as 1 (bit) and someone records a song in mp3/whatever format with all these 0's and 1's sounds in it and it start sending low level "Hz" information to tell the voice recognizer software to convert sound of those 2Hz to 0 and 4Hz as 1, then using this binary code, someone can infect a PC/system by placing some code in computer system (anywhere) to get the virus going????

Just wondering so that no one will get infected if someone freaky person in going in this direction... in coming future.

Regards
Arun Sangal
Denver, USA

Arun
September 8, 2011 12:47 PM

It's possible that..
==========================

1. A file itself is not infected / contains a virus...BUT just by listening it, your computer system can get infected with a virus.

Arun Sangal
Denver, USA

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