Do Emulators Have Viruses? A Guide To Save Your Computer

Emulation is great. Playing the best video games of yesteryear on modern TVs satisfies the need for nostalgia and entertainment. However, you may be wondering if downloading emulators opens up the door to computer viruses.

Downloading emulators from reputable sources is overwhelmingly safe and virus-free. To ensure a good experience, use common sense and basic internet safety.

To keep viruses like Dr. Mario’s nemesis Fever at bay, it’s important to keep basic internet safety in mind. We’ll go over same basic guidelines to keep your computer safe.

What are Emulators?

Emulators are programs that enable modern modern computers to play video games from the past. Essentially, they are software that replaces aging video game console hardware.

Emulators play game files called roms. I should note that video games are subject to intellectual property laws, and you should follow all applicable laws in your area.

Do Emulators Have Viruses?

Generally, emulators do not have viruses. Programmers work exceptionally hard to make an emulator run properly on modern computers; there is no incentive to add viruses.

If you get an emulator from a reputable source, you should be fine.

However, not everyone on the internet has good intentions. There are some websites run by unscrupulous people who add viruses, adware, and malware to emulators. As such, it’s important to get your emulators from reputable sources.

Like many things in life, it’s important to go to the right people to get the right goods and services.

Downloading Emulators Safely

Let’s be honest. The best part of the internet is that anyone can use it, and the worst part of the internet is that anyone can use it.

There are bad actors out there, but the overwhelming majority of emulator sites are perfectly safe. Just to be sure, here’s a few quick tips to make sure you stay safe:

  1. Always use anti-virus software on your computer. This should go without saying, but you should always have anti-virus software installed, up to date, and currently running on your computer. Periodically running a virus scan of your computer is a good habit to have, and it’ll keep your computer running for a years to come.
  2. Enable your anti-virus software’s browser extension. Installing and enabling your anti-virus’ browser extension gives your computer added protection from viruses.
  3. Scan everything you download. Using your anti-virus to scan all your downloads is another good habit to create and maintain. This can really prevent things from getting out of hand.
  4. Download emulators from reputable sites. Hopefully this goes without saying, but please ensure you’re downloading emulators from reputable sites. This brings us to our next section:

Where Should I Get Emulators?

It’s important to get your emulators from reputable sources. After all, you’re downloading a program from the internet. Lets look at some reputable places to get packages of emulators.


RetroPie contains a package of emulators that runs on various iterations of the Raspberry Pi. It is free to download and is available here. RetroPie is actually a group of several different software programs that work seamlessly together. It’s a combination of EmulationStation, Linux, and RetroArch.

RetroPie’s main benefits are its wide compatibility, expandable assortment of emulators, and its safety. RetroPie is a reputable organization based in the UK, and downloading the RetroPie image from their site is safe for your computer.

I’ve written several articles about RetroPie on this blog. Make sure you check out my other articles!


RetroArch is a highly-customizable and highly-compatible front end for emulators, and it’s also a foundational part of the aforementioned RetroPie. This program can run on just about anything from Windows, IOS, Android, Apple macOS / OSX, and many newer video game consoles.

RetroArch refers to emulators as cores, and you can easily add or change cores to suit your gaming tastes. Best of all, RetroArch is free to download from their website.


The MiSTEer project is awesome; I absolutely love my MiSTer. It utilizes a special type of chip called an FPGA on the DE10-Nano to recreate retro video game consoles with astonishing accuracy. The initial download comes with a bundle of emulator cores that faithfully recreate classic consoles, and they keep getting better with every update.

The MiSTer requires some specialized hardware to operate, and you can learn more about it visiting their website on GitHub here.

Straight from the developers

If you’re on a website that offers emulators for download, it’s in your best interest to do a quick Google search for that emulator. Chances are, the emulator has a website dedicated to it. You can simply navigate to the emulator’s website and safely download it straight from the developers.

Is safe? is a safe site from which to download emulators.

Over the past several years, I’ve downloaded several things from, and they’ve all worked great. I’ve never had any issues with viruses from, and I have no reason to think that would change.

Further, the layout of is super simple, and it’s easy to navigate to your emulator of choice.

Is safe? is a website that enables you to play classic games in your browser. This is a unique scenario as you don’t ever download any emulators; they play right in your browser. boasts a wide selection of roms you can play without downloading them.

I’ve never had any issues with viruses while using

Final Thoughts

Emulators are handy programs that enable you to play retro games on modern devices. While there are reputable sources from which to download emulators, please use common sense when downloading an emulator to ensure the safety of your device.

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