Your computer is slower than usual, windows are popping up all over the place, and your internet browser has more toolbars than a hardware store with a liquor license. Sounds like you picked up a computer virus. Don’t panic. While frustrating, most pc viruses aren’t dangerous so long as they’re dealt with quickly. By following the tips below, your computer will be free of viruses in a flash.
If you’re worried that you aren’t particularly computer savvy. You’re in luck, we’ve designed these tips to help computer owners from a wide range of backgrounds.
1. Get with the programs
You need not look further than a quick Google search to realize that there are a number of programs available online advertising the ability to solve you virus-related woes. The sheer volume of these programs can be somewhat overwhelming.
To make matters worse, some of these programs are malicious in nature, claiming to remove viruses when they are little more than viruses themselves. Some programs will only scan your computer for problems and won’t repair them until you purchase a full version.
Fortunately, not all programs are created equal. Indeed there are a number of programs you can download which will remove pc viruses absolutely free. No strings attached. How can you tell the difference between helpful and hurtful programs you ask? We’ve done most of the leg work for you! Here are some helpful, 100% free programs we recommend: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Panda Free Antivirus, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Microsoft Safety Scanner.
Downloading these programs online is easy. Some are better at removing certain types of viruses than others. As such, it is helpful to download more than one to cover all the bases. Once you’ve downloaded your chosen program(s), continue to the next step.
2. Block out the viruses
Before proceeding, you want to contain the infection on your computer. Begin by temporarily taking your computer off the internet. If you have a wireless connection, disable it by clicking it then clicking “disconnect”. If you have a hard-wired connection, unplug the LAN cable that runs from your computer to your router. Alternatively, you can temporarily turn off the power to your router.
In addition, do not open any files that you suspect to be infected by a virus. If you’re unsure which files those might be, it is best to refrain from opening any programs other than those you downloaded in the previous step.
3. Delete temporary files
Once your internet connection has been disabled, you can go one step further and delete your computer’s temporary files. While this step is often helpful, it isn’t necessarily critical. As a result, it can be skipped if you’re in a rush or if you are having trouble locating your temporary files directory.
To delete your temporary files press the “Start” and “R” keys on your keyboard at the same time. A dialogue box called “Run” should appear. In this box type “temp”, you may need to verify administrator permission to proceed. A new window will appear called “Temp”. Select all files in this folder by pressing “ctrl” and “A” at the same time, then press the “delete” key to delete these items. Finish by emptying the Recycle Bin on your computer.
4. Kill the virus
Once you are ready to remove the virus, you will need to install one or more of the helpful programs mentioned above. After one of these programs has been installed on your computer, run it to proceed. You will need to use the program to run a scan of your computer. A scan works by searching every nook and cranny of your hard drive for suspicious files. Because there are a lot of files to search, this process can take some time. Allow the program to scan your computer without interruption.
When the scan has completed, the program will draw your attention to any suspicious files. You will then have the opportunity to remove or quarantine these files. Once these files are removed, your computer should be free of viruses. If one of these programs cures your computer of viruses, consider purchasing the full version. Supporting developers allows them to continue to produce helpful software in the future.
5. Reinstall Windows
In some rare cases, your computer can be affected by a particularly malicious virus. In these cases, you may need to take more drastic action. If third-party software is unable to cure your computer of viruses, the best course of action is to wipe your system completely and start fresh. I know, I know, I can hear the groans already. Sure, a fresh install is never a fun thing to do, but it’s the one sure-fire way to remove viruses from your computer.
This approach will remove everything saved on your computer and revert to your original copy of Windows. Any additional files on your computer will be lost, so this approach is best left as a last resort. At least it will give you back your computer, if nothing else. Sometimes a fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.
The majority of the time viruses will only affect applications (files with the .exe extension) so it is typically safe to backup any pictures, documents, or music on a flash drive and reload them after you’ve reinstalled Windows.
To complete a fresh install, after you have backed up any files, start your computer normally. When your computer has started up, insert your Windows installation disk or flash drive and restart your computer. Press any key when prompted. When the disk’s install screen appears, follow the instructions on the screen.
6. Anti-virus software
You’ve heard it before, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once you’ve resolved your virus issues using the steps above, it is time to consider how you can prevent your computer from being infected again. Consider purchasing virus prevention software to offer optimal protection from future viruses.
We suggest Avast Antivirus and AVG Internet Security, both of which have free and trial versions available for download. Computer viruses take some patience to resolve, but whichever approach you choose, we wish you the best of luck.