How to Remove a Computer Virus

How to Remove a Computer Virus

Computer viruses can be detrimental to your operating system. It’s important to know how to recognize a virus and then remove it from your device.

Recognizing a virus

Here are some signs that suggest a virus might have infected your computer:

  • Your computer runs slowly and struggles to open files or load pages.
  • Messages pop up on your screen at random.
  • Programs start on their own, without a command from you.
  • Strange icons appear on your desktop.
  • You can hear your hard disk working extra hard.

If your computer exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s important to check for a virus right away and remove it as soon as possible. Viruses copy themselves and can corrupt your system or destroy your data. These malware programs infect devices through links in emails, web sites and pop-up windows.

There’s no need to wait until you notice the signs of a virus. There are antivirus programs that routinely scan for malicious software on your device.

What if my antivirus program detects a virus?

Check your antivirus settings. Select the option that allows the program to remove viruses. Manual removal can be difficult if you’re not tech-savvy. Most antivirus programs also include an option to quarantine the virus, which moves it to an area where it can’t affect your computer.

Reboot. Did you receive a message that your antivirus program detected and removed viruses? Great! Now, shut down your device, turn it back on and run the program again. It might find additional malware. If it does, reboot again and continue this process until it reveals a clean sweep.

Change passwords. Some viruses contain a key-logger element that can send your usernames and data to remote users. This means other people could have login information to access your email, social media sites and bank accounts. It’s worth the effort to exercise precaution and change all your passwords.

Removing the virus from your computer

Computer manufacturers occasionally install virus scanners.

Newer devices – five years old or less – likely have a virus scan program. These programs will automatically scan your sustems, then isolate and remove viruses as they are detected.

If your device shows virus symptoms despite automatic scanning, you’ll need to  manually scan for viruses, then remove them.

The Microsoft Safety Scanner is free to download. It provides On Demand scanning and helps remove malicious software. It expires 10 days after downloading and doesn’t offer any ongoing protection against viruses.

Note: If the virus compromised your Internet connection, you can still use this program:

  • Restart your device
  • Press F8 when the manufacturer’s logo appears and hold until the Advanced Boot Options prompt appears
  • Select Safe Mode with Networking and press enter
  • Log in to your network with a user account that has administrator rights
  • Follow prompts for Microsoft Safety Scanner

Different carriers, i.e. Windows PC or Mac, have different operating systems that might require alternate steps for eliminating your computer virus. Check in with your manufacturer for specific details regarding your device.