Malware includes applications that spy on you, corrupt your data, destroy your hard drive or give control of your machine to someone else. Often you can remove malware without having to erase everything else. You may lose some data in the process, but you probably won’t lose everything.
First you need to determine if your computer has a virus at all. You might suspect your computer of having a virus if several of the following things appear to happen.
- Computer seems to be slow. If your Web browser suddenly looks different or automatically goes to a site you don’t recognize, that’s a good indication that you’ve got some malware.
- If your computer is unstable and crashes fairly often, you may have a problem.
- If you try to access files but receive a message saying they’re corrupted, that’s another sign.
- If you do think your computer has a virus, you need to run antivirus software to clear it out. Some viruses disable antivirus software.
Detecting and Removing a Computer Virus
Antivirus software is very practical and beneficial for anyone using the Windows operating system. It’s true you can avoid computer viruses if you practice safe habits, but the people who write computer viruses are always looking for new ways to infect machines. There are several different antivirus programs on the market and some are free and some you have to purchase. Free versions often lack some of the nicer features you’ll find in commercial products. Assuming your antivirus software is up to date, it should detect malware on your machine. Most antivirus programs have an alert page that will list each and every virus or other piece of malware it finds.
What to do If you detect a virus on your computer
- You should write down the names of each malware application your software discovers. Many antivirus programs will attempt to remove or isolate malware for you.
- You may have to select an option and confirm that you want the antivirus software to tackle the malware. If the antivirus software says it has removed the malware successfully, you should shut down your computer, reboot and run the antivirus software again. This time, if the software comes back with a clean sweep, you’re good to go.
- If the antivirus software finds different malware, you may need to repeat the previous steps. If it finds the same malware as before, you might have to try something else.
Advanced Computer Virus Removal Tips
If you can’t access your antivirus software or you keep seeing the same malware pop up scan after scan, you may need to try and start your computer in Safe Mode. Many computer viruses will store files in your Windows registry folder. This folder acts like a database of instructions and tells your operating system important information about the programs you have on your computer. It can also tell viruses to activate as soon as the operating system loads. Starting your computer in Safe mode allows you to work with your machine using only the core elements of the Windows OS.
- Try running your antivirus software in this mode. If you see new malware pop up, you may have to try your own solution. Some malware exists only to download other kinds of malware and install them on your machine.
- Most Internet security firms will list all the files associated with a particular virus and tell you where you can expect to find those files. Before you delete any files, you should save a backup copy of your Registry folder. If you accidentally delete the wrong file, you may make it difficult or impossible to run your computer properly.
- Delete all the files associated with the malware on your list. Once that’s done, you’ll need to reboot your computer and run your antivirus software again. You may want to update your login information for your various accounts online. Some malware has keylogging software that can send your passwords and information to a remote user.
Give Viruses the Boot (Disk)
Some antivirus software will let you create a special boot disk. After creating a boot disk, you should reboot your computer with the disk in the drive. Your computer will read from the disk and load a limited OS and run a virus scan.
Computer Virus Protection
- Don’t open strange e-mail attachments or click on hyperlinks in e-mail. Virus programmers love to trick people into clicking on links that will lead them to malicious software.
- If your e-mail client supports autolaunch, turn it off. Otherwise you might automatically activate a computer virus just by opening the e-mail. The same applies to other messages you might encounter. Hyperlinks in message boards, Facebook messages or instant messages can sometimes lead to malware.
- Pay attention to the source of the message. Look for any unusual signs like misspellings or odd sentence structure, particularly if the person who sent you the message normally avoids errors. If you do see an odd link, you may want to let the sender know that he or she might be the victim of a hacked account.
- Don’t visit questionable web sites. Pay close attention to any windows that pop up while you surf the Web. If you see a notification claiming that you need to download the latest video driver to watch something, use caution. This is a common tactic used to distribute malware.
- Run your antivirus software at least once a week. You should also make sure your antivirus software and OS remain current by downloading updates and patches on a regular basis. Most antivirus software updates at least once a week as security firms add more virus information to their databases.
Computer viruses are everywhere today and it is important to implement measures to ensure the safety protection of your computer. Following these simple safety tips will help reduce the chances of your computer obtaining a virus.