Malware and Viruses can be difficult to remove if your PC gets infected. There are a few basic things users should be doing when trying to remove a known infection. Sometimes this technique will work, but occasionally more advanced tactics will need to be done in order to remove malicious code. A lot of experts will agree once your computer is known to be infected, the only real way to know you’ve solved the problem is to reformat and reinstall Windows. Understandably, people do not like that option, as they may not have backups or even a restore disks to perform that task. So what do you do?
How to Remove Spyware and Viruses
- The very first thing you should do is try and update Windows. Many newer computers will have automatic updates turned on by default. But sometimes the updates will upload but not install until you tell them to. Click Start, then look in the menu for Windows Update. Click that and you will be taken to the Microsoft Update website. Install any critical updates that are available. You may need to restart when finished. This update will at least make sure your computer is patched with any KNOWN exploits. It will also download the latest Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool–which is a utility to remove common malicious software.
- Next, write down the names of any pop-ups that might flash on the screen. You want to write these down in case you need to manually research and kill out the processes. Generally, you will find tips on how to manually remove malware by visiting SARC.com or any other trusted security site. In addition, Malware can redirect and change your homepage. Write down the new homepage URL as this will give a clue as to what malware you could have.
- Restart and go to Safe Mode with Networking. To get there, reboot or power on the computer and tap the F8 key numerous times until you see a boot menu with Safe Mode with Networking. Once in that mode, go to the Internet and visit MalwareBytes.org and download the free version (or they have a good Commercial version of MalwareBytes that will protect you in real-time). Install and run a scan. If it detects anything remove and reboot the computer. Hopefully, this will solve the problem.
- If that doesn’t help, you’ll need to download a program called Hijack This, which is a very advanced tool that allows you to remove evil BHOs (Browser Helper Objects). If you have researched your particular infection and know what to look for in this list, you can delete the malicious software directly from the HJT tool.
- If all else fails, you may need to reinstall. Backup any important Photos, Movies or Documents to an external drive or CD and either run your Recovery Disk or use your Windows CD to reformat and reinstall the Operating System.
It’s not a bad idea to turn off System Restore before doing your scans. Some viruses will actually reinstall themselves using the System Restore feature built into your Operating System. To turn it off, right-click My Computer, then click Properties. There will be a System Restore tab that has a check box to turn off System Restore.
Free Online Virus Scanning Tools
Free online virus scanner sites are great for getting a second opinion on your computer’s security. Not all antivirus programs are created equal. While the antivirus you run on your home PC might never detect anything when it scans, it doesn’t mean you’re not infected. Not all companies update their virus definitions at the same time. So it’s possible one company may have the most current and accurate virus definitions, while the one you use does not. Likewise, your antivirus may catch malware the others do not. So it’s good to get a second opinion. With that said, you should never install two antivirus programs on a computer, as they will conflict and likely slow your system down. Use one of the website below to scan your computer from the Internet.
Housecall – Trend Micro has been offering this free malware scanner online for several years.
Eset Online Virus Scanner — From the company that makes the reliable NOD32 antivirus, Eset has a fast and easy online virus scanner.
Remember, no matter which of the above you use, understand that these scanners do not prevent you from getting viruses. They are for detection after-the-fact. Make sure you keep Windows up to date and have a current antivirus running on your PC that provides real-time protection. For more tips on how use an online virus scanner to keep your PC safe and remove infections, be sure to visit our free computer repair forums for additional help.
Malware Removeal Programs We Recommend
In addition to having all of the Microsoft Updates and running their free antivirus program, Windows Defender, below are a list of great tools to remove viruses post-infection.
If you have issues with malware, be sure to join our forum and discuss it with our community.