It is very unpleasant to find out that your PC is infected with a virus. You cannot afford losing all those important files on your hard disk, photos or some kind of unfinished project. Viruses can pose a significant threat to your personal data and can also negatively affect the operation of your computer.
There are many reasons why your computer may start to work slowly, but one of the reasons is the presence of computer viruses, malware, or adware. Since for some people, it is difficult to get rid of viruses, I have prepared a step-by-step guide for you on how to get rid of viruses.
Before delving into the process of cleaning your computer, it is important to make sure that your device is really infected. Here are some clear signs that your computer may have a virus:
- You see frequent pop-up alerts and messages. Every time you work on a computer, they start annoying you with their appearance and it is not clear how to get rid of them. First tip: Never click on a suspicious pop-up windows, even if they say that a virus was found.
- Your computer or web browser is slow. Update all your applications and system in time. If it still works slowly, then it is possible that adware “hacked” your browser using fake advertising or phishing techniques.
- Your hard drive is noisy. If your hard drive makes sounds, although there is no activity on the computer, then this is also a sign that your computer may be infected.
- Apps often crash. If programs start and shut down by themselves, or your system randomly restarts or freezes, then your computer may be infected with a virus.
- Some files are missing. If you cannot find files that you didn’t delete, this can happen as a result of a malicious program that can delete files. Such viruses can move files, delete them, or encrypt them so that you cannot open them.
- Network activity. If your Wi-Fi is actively working and Internet traffic has increased greatly, although you are not downloading or uploading anything, then it is quite possible that the virus has penetrated your computer to send information to its servers.
Before starting the virus removal process, make sure that you have backup copies of all important files. This ensures that all your valuable files are safe if anything goes wrong during the removal process. The best thing is to scan all your private data before you copy it to any external drive. There are many virus and malware removal programs, a lot of them are free.
If you have not yet installed any antivirus program, be sure to do it. Select antivirus tools that also protect from ransomware, since this is the most dangerous type of malware these days. After installation, restart your PC in safe mode. When the system starts up in safe mode, your computer will run only the most important system files and services, preventing most viruses from starting.
Then launch full system scan. After the scan is complete, you are going to be presented with a summary of all malicious programs found. Check this list to not accidentally delete legitimate software as false positives sometimes occur. Then restart the PC and check its operation and speed. If your computer works well, then most likely, it is now free from viruses.
If your PC does not start as a result of a virus attack, then you need to use a rescue disk. Most often these are USB drives. Rescue disks will allow to scan the device without having to start the system. Using another PC, download the corresponding ISO file (usually offered by top antivirus vendors) and burn it to the USB.
Start your computer from this USB without loading Windows and launch the removal program located on this emergency flash drive. Most computers can be safely started from rescue USBs by simply plugging it in before turning on the computer.
Some viruses can only be removed manually. Do it if you know Windows really well and already worked with program files. If you feel quite confident, then use AutoRun (Sysinternals tool from Microsoft), which allows you to see what is running on your PC and help to get rid of it.
Run the above-mentioned tool and remember that there are many areas and things that may be unfamiliar. To simplify the process, turn off reporting of Microsoft-signed services and programs that you know for sure are not malicious. Filter the parameters to verify the code signatures, mind empty locations and hide all Microsoft entries.
Then restart your PC in Safe Mode with networking. You will be able to search the Internet for any suspicious programs that are getting launched along with your computer. Start the AutoRun tool and search for suspicious objects.
Manual removal may take a lot of time, but it is very important. Pay attention to the entry names and their location, check the legitimacy of the specific entry by searching online process identifier that can help you understand what the process is. Check the Logon tab and Services tab that provide already filtered information.
It is desirable to write down the location of the files (and any other relevant info) before deleting them. Delete malware and all associated files. To be safe, delete one object at a time. After you remove the malware, check that your recycle bin is empty and then restart your PC.
Install from scratch
Perhaps this is the most tedious method, but it is a guaranteed way to completely get rid of all viruses. Format discs C, D (or any other letter you have) and reinstall Windows. You will need to install all programs too. Again, this method will protect your PC from further infections and problems caused by viruses.
Windows 10 offers several ways to perform a clean install. You can do it with the help of DVD, USB, using a system reset, or reinstalling within an existing Windows version. Before using DVD or USB, find and prepare the product license key.
Using the reinstallation from the existing Windows version, select Keep Nothing when transferring it to the new version.