Has your PC been hit with a virus? Don’t despair! In these three easy-to-follow steps we’ll show you how to get rid of pesky viruses and malware and get your PC running smoothly again. And if you need a new antivirus for protection from ransomware, spyware and adware, check out our expert comparisons of the best antivirus software available.
The first thing you need to do is get your PC into a state where you can safely start to tackle the malware.
Many viruses wreak havoc via your internet connection, whether that’s relaying information about your computer, hacking your emails, or installing something nasty on your device. Before you try to remove the virus, disconnect from Wi-Fi or any other internet connection. You then need to restart your computer in Safe Mode.
In older versions of Windows (pre Windows 8) this is super easy.
As soon as your computer starts to turn on, press the F8 button repeatedly until the Advanced Boot Options Menu comes up on the screen.
Then, select Safe Mode. If you’re using Windows 10, this is slightly more complicated.
Click the Start Button, select the Power Button (as if you are going to reboot) but don’t click it yet, then hold down the Shift button. You can now click Reboot.
A menu should now appear:
Select Troubleshooting >>
Advanced Options >>
On the next window click Restart. Another screen will now appear with more options. Click number 4, which is Safe Mode.
Running your computer in Safe Mode prevents the malware from launching automatically on startup. If your computer is running noticeably faster, this could be a sign that you do indeed have a virus. That said, Safe Mode also prevents perfectly legit programs from running automatically as well, so it’s possible that any improvements to performance are down to this, too.
Next, delete your temporary files. This will make your virus scan run faster and free up disk space. In some cases it can even delete malware!
Select Start >>
All Programs >>
System Tools >>
Click the option to delete temporary files and you’re all set.
Now your computer is fully prepared for a virus scan – but, of course, you need a virus scanner for that! We’d recommend using Malwarebytes, which has an excellent free on-demand scanner that’s perfect for this scenario.
However, since your PC is still infected, it’s best to avoid reconnecting to the internet if at all possible. Instead, use a different computer to download Malwarebytes, save it to a USB flash drive, plug it into your computer or laptop and install / run it from there. If you are unsure if your USB is safe from viruses, read our expert article here.
Installing Malwarebytes is really easy. Open it up, run the setup file and follow the prompts given to you by the wizard. The only thing that might set you back a little is if you need to install any updates, which will mean reconnecting to the internet for long enough to do this. If this happens, make sure you disconnect again before you run the scan!
For now, stick with the default option, which is Perform Quick Scan. This is super speedy – it should be done in about 5-10 minutes and will usually find any infections in that time. If it doesn’t catch the malware first time round, you can then try running a full scan, which can take up to an hour.
Malwarebytes will automatically flag up any files that it knows are dangerous from its own, well-maintained database, so you just need to click “Remove Selected” to get rid of these.
How to Stay Safe
In the majority of cases, these steps will work just fine, but there is always the chance that you’ve picked up something really nasty, for example a rootkit virus that automatically closes down scanners to prevent itself being detected or deleted.
If this happens, you will very likely need to splash out for more powerful antivirus software or even seek out an IT professional who can get to work on your computer.
And while it’s possible to remove a virus, by the time it’s managed to sink its teeth into your system, some irreversible damage may already have been done. This is especially true if you’re saddled with spyware that’s captured sensitive data or any kind of malware that deletes important files from your hard drive.
The best approach is to prevent it happening in the first place. Invest in a powerful internet security suite that scores highly in independent tests. Make use of real-time scanning to ensure nothing slips through the net. Look out for features that protect your privacy while browsing, shopping and banking online. It’s well worth spending a few dollars to save yourself a ton of hassle – and potentially cash – further down the line!
If you need a new antivirus software for your PC or other devices, click here to read our expert reviews.