The development of quantitative methods for the detection of viral nucleic acids have significantly improved our ability to manage disease progression and to assess the efficacy of antiviral treatment. Moreover, major advances in molecular technologies during the last decade have allowed the identification of new host genetic markers associated with antiviral drug response but have also strongly revolutionized the way we see and perform virus diagnostics in the coming years. Areas covered: In this review, we describe the history and development of virology diagnostic methods, dedicating particular emphasis on the gradual evolution and recent advances toward the introduction of multiparametric platforms for the syndromic diagnosis. In parallel, we outline the consolidation of viral genome quantification practice in different clinical settings. Expert commentary: More rapid, accurate and affordable molecular technology can be predictable with particular emphasis on emerging techniques (next generation sequencing, digital PCR, point of care testing and syndromic diagnosis) to simplify viral diagnosis in the next future.