Removing Viruses and Malware

Posted by fmatlock on May 8, 2012

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How to Remove a Computer Virus

We all know malware is out there. Malware includes applications that spy on you, corrupt your data, destroy your hard drive or give control of your machine to someone you don't even know. No matter what form it takes, malware it's just plain bad business. There are soo many varieties of malware that it may only be a matter of time before you become the victim of them.

If you think your computer has malware on it remember this: Don't Panic. Also, don't assume that you need to wipe your computer clean and start all over. Malware can often be removed without having to erase all of your stuff. You may lose some data but you probably won't lose everything.

First you need to determine if your computer has a virus. Your computer may have a virus if displays one or more of the following behaviors: It seems to be sluggish. If your Web browser suddenly looks different or automatically goes to a site you don't recognize. (That's a good indication that you've got some malware.) If your computer is unstable and crashes fairly often then you may have a virus or possibly a hardware problem. If you try to access files but they're corrupted, that may be another sign.


Detecting and Removing a Computer Virus

A good Antivirus program is pretty much a requirement for anyone that uses the Windows operating system and the Internet. You can avoid computer viruses if you practice safe habits but the people who write computer viruses are always looking for new ways to infect machines. There are many different antivirus programs on the market a few are free and others you need to purchase. Keep in mind that free versions often lack some features that purchased products have.

Let's start with the assumption that you're able to run antivirus software -- we'll look into what to do if this isn't the case a little later. Assuming your antivirus software is up to date, it should detect malware on your machine. Most antivirus programs have an alert page that will list each and every virus or other piece of malware it finds. You should write down the names of each malware application your software discovers.

Many antivirus programs will attempt to remove or isolate malware for you. You may have to select an option and confirm that you want the antivirus software to tackle the malware. For most users, this is the best option -- it can be tricky removing malware on your own.

If the antivirus software says it has removed the malware successfully, you should shut down your computer, reboot and run the antivirus software again. This time, if the software comes back with a clean sweep, you should be good to go. If the antivirus software finds different malware, you may need to repeat the previous steps. If it finds the same malware as before, you might have to try something else.


Advanced Computer Virus Removal Tips

If you can't access your antivirus software or you keep seeing the same malware pop up scan after scan, you may need to try and start your computer in Safe Mode. Many computer viruses will store files in your Windows registry folder. This folder acts like a database of instructions and tells your operating system important information about the programs you have on your computer. It can also tell viruses to activate as soon as the operating system loads. Starting your computer in Safe mode allows you to work with your machine using only the core elements of the Windows OS.

Try running your antivirus software in this mode. If you see new malware pop up, you may have hit upon your solution. Some malware exists only to download other kinds of malware and install them on your machine. If you can remove all of these applications, you'll be in good shape.

If for some reason your antivirus software can't remove the virus on its own, it's time to do a little more research. Remember when we said you should write down the names of all the malware applications that your software discovered? Here's where that comes into play. You'll need to research each of those files online using the appropriate Internet security firm. Make sure to use the same firm that produces the antivirus software you're using. That's because different firms sometimes give the same virus different names. Not all firms will refer to the same virus the same way.

Most Internet security firms will list all the files associated with a particular virus and tell you where you can expect to find those files. You may have to do some digging to find each file. Before you delete any files, you should save a backup copy of your Registry folder. If you accidentally delete the wrong file, you may make it difficult or impossible to run your computer properly.

Delete all the files associated with the malware on your list. Once that's done, you'll need to reboot your computer and run your antivirus software again. Hopefully nothing else will pop up.

You may want to update your login information for your various accounts online. Some malware has keylogging software that can send your passwords and information to a remote user. It's better to be safe than sorry.


Computer Virus Protection

There are some simple rules you can follow that will help you avoid computer viruses. Most of these fall under the category of common sense.

Don't open strange e-mail attachments or click on hyperlinks in e-mail. Virus programmers love to trick people into clicking on links that will lead them to malicious software. Let people know that you don't click on hyperlinks in e-mail unless the sender includes a description of the link and what it leads to. If your e-mail client supports autolaunch, turn it off. Otherwise you might automatically activate a computer virus just by opening the e-mail.

The same applies to other messages you might encounter. Hyperlinks in message boards, Facebook messages or instant messages can sometimes lead to malware. Pay attention to the source of the message. Look for any unusual signs like misspellings or odd sentence structure, particularly if the person who sent you the message normally avoids errors. If you do see an odd link, you may want to let the sender know -- he or she might be the victim of a hacked account.

Don't visit questionable Web sites. This includes everything from software, music and video piracy sites to porn sites. Many current Web browsers will alert you if you try to go to a site that is known for hosting malware. Pay attention to these warnings and stay away from those sites.

Pay close attention to any windows that pop up while you surf the Web. If you see a notification claiming that you need to download the latest video driver to watch something, use caution. This is a common tactic used to distribute malware.

Run your antivirus software at least once a week. You should also make sure your antivirus software and OS remain current by downloading updates and patches on a regular basis. Most antivirus software updates at least once a week as security firms add more virus information to their databases.

Avoiding viruses might sound like a lot of work but keep in mind it's easier than fixing a computer that's been hit with a virus.

If you are running Windows XP or 7, you can get Microsoft Security Essentials for FREE. I have been using this personally for over a year and so far, no viruses or malware! If you have anti-virus software you like, that's great. If you don't have a good program, Security Essentials does the job quite nicely.

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