Add a service user account

If you're planning to run freshclam or clamd as a service on a Linux or Unix system, you should create a service account. The following instructions assume that you will use the an account named "clamav" for both services, although you may create a different account name for each if you wish.

Note: These instructions are mostly just for folks building & installing from source. If you installed a package from your Linux/Unix distribution, it probably created the account(s) for you.

Create a service user account (and group)

Linux / Unix

As root or with sudo, run:

groupadd clamav
useradd -g clamav -s /bin/false -c "Clam Antivirus" clamav

If your operating system does not have the groupadd and useradd utilities, consult a system manual. Don’t forget to lock access to the account!


Prep by identifying an unused group id (gid), and an unused user UniqueID.

This command will display all current group PrimaryGroupIDs:

dscl . list /Groups PrimaryGroupID | tr -s ' ' | sort -n -t ' ' -k2,2

This command will display all current user UniqueIDs:

dscl . list /Users UniqueID | tr -s ' ' | sort -n -t ' ' -k2,2

Then, these commands can be used to create the clamav group and clamav user.

sudo dscl . create /Groups/clamav
sudo dscl . create /Groups/clamav RealName "Clam Antivirus Group"
sudo dscl . create /Groups/clamav gid 799           # Ensure this is unique!
sudo dscl . create /Users/clamav
sudo dscl . create /Users/clamav RealName "Clam Antivirus User"
sudo dscl . create /Users/clamav UserShell /bin/false
sudo dscl . create /Users/clamav UniqueID 599       # Ensure this is unique!
sudo dscl . create /Users/clamav PrimaryGroupID 799 # Must match the above gid!

About how the service accounts are used

At present, the behavior differs slightly between clamd and freshclam. When run as root:

  • freshclam will always switch to run as the "DatabaseOwner" user account. The default account name is "clamav", or may be customized by specifying the "DatabaseOwner" setting in freshclam.conf.

  • clamd will only switch to run as the "User" user account if the "User" setting is specified in clamd.conf. If you do not specify a "User" in the config, clamd will continue to run as the root user! We may change this behavior in a future version to prevent clamd from being run as root.

Caution: We do not recommend running clamd as root for safety reasons because ClamAV scans untrusted files that may be malware. Always configure the "User" setting in clamd.conf if you plan to run clamd as a service.

On Unix/Linux systems, freshclam and clamd will switch to run as a different user if you start them as the root user, or using sudo. By default, that user account is named "clamav". The purpose is t

If you are running freshclam and clamd as root or with sudo, and you did not explicitly configure with --disable-clamav, you will want to ensure that the DatabaseOwner user specified in freshclam.conf owns the database directory so it can download signature updates.

The user that clamd, clamdscan, and clamscan run as may be the same user, but if it isn't -- it merely needs read access to the database directory.

If you choose to use the default clamav user to run freshclam and clamd, you'll need to create the clamav group and the clamav user account the first time you install ClamAV.

After installation: Make the service account own the database directory

After you've installed ClamAV, you will want to make it so that the database directory is owned by the same service account as you're using for freshclam.

As root or with sudo, run:

sudo chown -R clamav:clamav /usr/local/share/clamav

Or (if you customized the database path):

chown -R clamav:clamav /var/lib/clamav/