Having a virus is one of the most annoying incidents that can happen to anyone who uses a computer. There are several kinds of them, the most common is likely malware, which is designed to cause software malfunctions and disruptions. Whatever the type, learning how to remove a virus from your PC might just save you time and money.
It’s relatively simple compared to some of the most complex DIY computer procedures.
If you manage to yield consistent results, you might even diagnose and remove a virus for a living or for some pocket money.
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Learn the Symptoms First
The crucial component here is an active internet connection, although before we get started on how to remove a virus, it’s best to know if what you’re dealing with is actually a virus or malware instead of something else. So here are the telltale symptoms, though they don’t always indicate that your computer has a virus:
- Antivirus software and security applications are failing to scan or update.
- Unwarranted changes that aren’t from Windows updates (i.e., background/wallpaper turning black, etc.).
- Browser suddenly opening or re-directing to an advertisement or suspicious website.
- Slow operation with CPU/RAM/GPU running at max despite the computer being idle.
- Urgent claims or popups indicating hardware failure.
- Program malfunctions and frequent random errors.
- The computer does not boot to Windows or exhibits the notorious Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)
If the last symptom is present or prevalent, then repair or virus removal might be difficult and your only option might be a full Windows or storage reformat, but this might cause you to lose some files that weren’t backed up. Everything else is more manageable.
As for how you got the virus, we’ll get to that later and how you can avoid it again. For now, here’s what you need to do to attempt the repair process and remove a virus.
Third-party Diagnostics & Removal
There are three main software or applications that you need if you want to attempt virus removal. Do note that if your computer got infected even if you have an antivirus, then that antivirus software failed its job and is practically useless for this endeavor. So, you need more specialized tools such as:
You’ll also be using these four in order. All of them have free or trial versions that can perform optimally without the need to spend any money. For more specifics, here’s a step-by-step procedure:
- Download and run RKill. The process might take a while before it’s finished, make sure to refrain from rebooting when it’s done.
- Head to Malwarebytes’ website and download it. Open it afterward, make sure to enable the “Scan for Rootkit” option (if available) and then click the scan button (don’t use a quick scan option if it’s present).
- Apparently, you will need second opinions from other third-party virus and malware removal tools. While Malwarebytes is a robust application, HitmanPro might be necessary if you want to be extra sure. So just download and run it in its free trial.
Speaking of which, some viruses outright prevent you from accessing the affected browser. In such cases, it’s recommended to just uninstall the said browser (usually Google Chrome) and use something else to download the aforementioned applications, such as Microsoft Edge or another backup browser.
The process above might take several minutes to a couple of hours depending on the specs of your computer. In some cases, you might even need to dedicate a whole afternoon to trying to remove a virus.
This Won’t Always Work
A full disclaimer is in order. The methods mentioned above are not foolproof and some viruses are simply too powerful and destructive that they don’t allow the diagnostic and removal tools above to work properly.
You can keep trying again up to three times or more but if each attempt comes up with the same threat or anomaly, then it’s safe to say that it keeps finding a way to persist within your computer. In such cases, it’s not worth it playing whack-a-mole with the virus anymore.
The best solution hereafter would be to nuke the whole drive by reformatting Windows (clean installation). This option is not as tedious as it sounds since Windows installation is faster now and most computers run on SSDs nowadays. However, reinstalling all the programs is the busier part of this method.
This way, you can rest assured that the virus or malware is gone, unless you backed up some personal files and it turns out that the virus latched onto those files, but they usually only attach themselves to system files.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the virus or malware infection since there are way too many factors and stealthy causes these days.
But cleaning a virus on your PC is not exactly a fun or relaxing activity and neither should it happen too frequently. So in the future, you will want to take some preventive measures or cautionary steps to avoid re-introducing a virus into your PC.
- Avoid adult websites or websites with pop-up ads.
- Run an ad blocker extension in your browser.
- Always keep Windows Defender and its features active. This is the only antivirus software you need.
- Hesitate opening emails and double-check their sender or links.
- Never type your password or credentials in an email or from an email of any kind.
- Keep User Account Control on at all times.
- Vet any program that’s asking for permission in Windows. If you don’t remember installing it, be suspicious and Google the application’s name first.
- Always update Windows.
- Back up your personal and important files (via Cloud or manually).
With all that’s been said and done, the surest solution or way to remove a virus (if you’re sure about the virus) is to reformat your Windows installation. That’s why the last preventive measure above (back-ups) is a crucial step in combatting viruses.
Because if your files are secure somewhere else, then you can easily just perform a clean reformat in the event of a virus. The reinstallation will likely take the same time as diagnosing and cleaning up the virus anyway.
Whatever you do, just be careful out there. The internet is a wide and dangerous ocean.
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