What To Do If Your Computer Has A Virus
How do I know if my Windows PC has a virus?
A computer can become infected with a virus without it being obvious, but there are a number of warning signs that it has a virus, worm or other kind of malware. They include:
- – A computer that is running unusually slowly
- – Unusual messages that pop up and can’t easily be eliminated
- – The hard drive is making a noise, indicating that it’s working harder than normal
- – Computer programs that you’re not familiar with starting up of their own accord
In this article we’ll look at:
- – Identifying a virus on a Windows PC
- – Eliminating viruses or other malware
- – Recovery and repair of damaged software or files
- – How to prevent it happening again
The signs listed above could indicate a virus or some other kind of malicious software (malware) that has infiltrated your system. One indication that you may have a virus is if you’re experiencing several of the warning signs. In contrast, some malware, like spyware, works by not alerting the user to their presence, and so the signs may be harder to recognize.
The first step is to make sure you have an antivirus program installed. These include tools to scan your computer and detect malware and viruses, whether or not you’re aware of a problem. There are various top brand antivirus programs that are available as free downloads. They are easy to install, and you’ll have some protection immediately. If it flags up a virus, then these are the steps you need to follow:
How to eliminate viruses and malware:
Whatever the cause of the problem, no matter whether it’s malware, adware or a Trojan, the following steps should deal with it.
Step 1: Go into Safe Mode
- – Press and hold the Shift key and then restart the computer. This is done by opening the start menu, selecting the power icon and then Restart.
- – When you’re booted up again, a menu with advanced boot options will appear.
- – Click the Troubleshoot option.
Now select Advanced Options. > Then select Startup Settings. > Restart.
Press 5 to restart in Safe Mode with Networking. Your computer should be disconnected from the internet when you do this.
Step 2: Cleanup and delete temporary files
To do this you’ll need to use the Disk Cleanup command. Access the Windows Start menu and go to Windows Administrative Tools. A drop-down menu will appear when you click it. Select Disk Cleanup.
You’ll see a list of ‘Files to delete’. Select Temporary Files. This will speed up the scan for viruses and, if the malware is primed to start when you boot up, this step alone could eliminate the problem.
Step 3: Prepare to scan for viruses
If you haven’t already done so, download a virus scanner. There are two kinds you should know about. One detects and deletes viruses in real time, while the other type, such as Microsoft Safety Scanner, works on an on-demand basis. You might need to use both types.
If you’re not able to connect to the internet, because you restarted your computer in Safe Mode with Networking you might still manage to download Microsoft Safety Scanner.
Step 4: Initiate the scanning
First run the on-demand scanner, and the scanner that works in real time. You might detect and remove the problem just using one, but you’re more likely to be successful if you use both.
If necessary, you may have to manually remove a virus, but this should only be done if you know what you’re doing, because it involves altering the Windows Registry. If in doubt, contact an IT professional.
Step 5: Recover, repair, reinstall
The virus or malware should now have been eliminated, but it may have left you with damaged files and software. Backups are a vital resource here, and ideally you should backup at least once a week, or even more often. This makes the recovery process a whole lot simpler. Backing up to an external drive is the best way to do this.
Step 6: Maximize your protection
- – Make sure your antivirus protection is updated. New viruses and malware are always being created and distributed. Even if you installed your antivirus program a month ago it could be out of date.
- – Backup regularly. As mentioned, ideally you should back up to an external hard drive. Alternatively you can use a cloud solution – or both. The more backups, the lower the chance of losing data.
- – Be proactive. Make sure you install the latest software updates for Windows when prompted, or soon afterwards.
- – Don’t click on pop-up messages – even those that claim to have found a problem with your computer and instruct you to click the message to discover more.
- – Treat emails from unfamiliar addresses with caution, and be especially wary of clicking on any links or opening any attachments they contain.
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