Most PC users take common sense precautions to avoid infecting their computer with a virus. Even when you avoid suspicious websites or don’t open questionable emails, you can still be prone to infections.
Today’s Trojan horse viruses and malware are very advanced, and it is possible for them to slip past even quality antivirus programs. When your computer becomes infected, not only are you left with a mess on your hands, you have to figure out what is causing the problem, how to thoroughly remove it, and how to prevent future problems. Here are some tips for how to cure an infected PC that will get your computer up and running again.
1. Confirm That There Is An Actual Infection
Sometimes computer owners jump to the conclusion that their PC is infected, when in reality it’s something else. Before making plans to remove an infection, first rule out such common occurrences as hardware or software problems, or perhaps even user error. Some typical symptoms of a virus to look for include an unusually slow PC, and the computer suddenly seeming to have a mind of its own. If you’re suspicious that it could be a virus, open the Windows Task Manager by right clicking on the task bar, then open the Processes tab. If you see anything unusual such as an odd sounding name, this might be an indication of a virus.
However, you cannot always tell, because modern viruses are becoming better at blending in and appearing legitimate. With malware infections, there are many times still odd symbols and characters listed in the process description that will give it away. You can use some of the best antivirus programs available in the market to help confirm if there’s indeed an actual infection to your system.
2. The Red Flags Of Malware
Malware has a way of attempting to prevent PC users from removing it. If your antivirus program suddenly refuses to load, or utilities such as regedit or msconfig that may assist in manual removal fail to load, these are good indicators that you have malware. Also, beware of strange pop-ups that issue warnings about your computer being infected. Be especially wary of any such warning that prompts you to provide credit card information or other personal information. By all means, do not provide any such kind of information!
3. Take Your Cues From The Pop-Up To Provide A Possible Solution
By reading the information found in the annoying “Warning” pop-ups, you can sometimes look online for solutions from other people who have dealt with the same virus or malware problem. By checking out various computer tech sites or other informational sites that provide this type of information, you can possibly identify the threat, know which antivirus software they used to cure their infected systems and may even be provided with step by step instructions as to how to remove it.
4. Keep In Mind Your Antivirus Has Been Compromised
Scanning your computer for infections is a critical step in taking care of the problem. Remember, no matter how good an antivirus program is, there’s still a possibility it can miss a new and advanced virus. Whatever antivirus you were using obviously has missed whatever is currently infecting the computer, so you should scan with another program instead. An antivirus that has missed an infection has been compromised, so don’t rely on it to determine if your PC is clean or infected at this point. Choose a new malware scan that has not already been installed on the PC, but run the program in Windows Safe Mode instead of in regular Windows, so that the malware is not given the opportunity to load and interfere with the scan.
5. Use Windows Safe Mode
Using Safe Mode when combating a virus problem will allow you to operate the PC on a minimal level, allowing you access to fix it , without allowing the malware to operate. To enter Safe Mode, after booting the computer press F8 until the boot menu appears. When your list of options appears, choose “Safe Mode with Networking” so that you can still access the Internet using Internet Explorer. Don’t try to run any other browsers except IE when using safe mode. Choose a quality online virus scanner and select the options you would like in the advanced settings. You may also wish to use a portable scan program that has been copied to a flash drive from which you can run the program. Use the portable program to perform a scan of your full PC system.
6. Run Multiple Scans
Keep in mind that a full system scan is going to take quite some time, typically several hours. After you have completed the first scan and have cleaned everything out, it is advisable to perform a second scan using another program. This will ensure you have detected and removed any threats and is also good confirmation for the PC owner that the computer is now clean and safe to use.
7. If All Else Fails, Try A Linux Operating System
If you’re still having issues after a few attempts at getting rid of malware in safe mode, try using a Linux antivirus utility to completely bypass Windows in your effort to clear the infection. Use a bootable CD or a flash drive for this purpose, and be sure to have an active Internet connection to have access to the latest databases with the most current information on malware. Download a bootable virus scanner in the .iso file extension and then use it to create a bootable CD.
8. Once The Computer Is Clean, Take The Steps To Keep It Clean
After you have effectively cleaned your PC and it is clear of all infections, reboot into regular Windows mode. It is then a good idea to replace your former antivirus program that failed you. Once uninstalled, reinstall the program along with updating to the most recent version of it. You might wish to choose a new antivirus program instead.
With all of the new and latest malware out there, it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid infections. This is why it is important to know how to handle them and take care of them promptly when they do occur.
[Image credit: Annette on Flickr]