I Think My PC Has a Computer Virus – What Now?

Virus on my pcViruses (or is it virii?) on your computer or laptop are no laughing matter. If a virus has infected your computer, at best you’ll may notice a slowdown in your PC’s performance, at worst you may lose important data or have your sensitive information stolen. Regardless of how detrimental you think a virus may be to you and your computer, it is imperative that you take steps immediately to vanquish the computer virus – before more harm is done. You don’t necessarily need to take it to a computer service technician. You can probably carry out the process yourself. So let’s find out how to get started!

Do I Have a Computer Virus or Not?

If you have a virus protection software installed, then it may have caught the virus and eliminated it before any damage has been done. This is how anti-virus software is expected to work. If you received a message box that might appear like the one below, then a virus has been found by the anti-virus software and is asking you to confirm that you would like it to be eradicated. Sometimes, anti-virus software will just work quietly in the background, and remove viruses on its own without any prompt to you, the user.

Do You Have a Computer Virus?On a side note, virus protection software packages are notorious memory/CPU hogs, so you may notice a slowdown in your performance, particularly during a full hard drive scan. To avoid disruption to your computer work while a scan is being performed, you might schedule scans to happen after hours, and be sure to leave your PC on overnight so the scan can be carried out.

You may think that you have a computer virus because your PC occasionally operates slowly, but it’s probably just a scan. You can usually tell if a scan is in process by looking at the software’s icon in the system tray (bottom right hand of the screen). If you mouse over it, it may say ‘scan in progress’ or something of that nature.

No Anti-Virus Software

If you are certain that you don’t have any anti-virus software installed, or if you had software installed in the past but did not renew the service, then your computer may be exposed to infection.

That’s right, even if you had installed anti-virus protection, new updates to the virus definition file used by the software won’t be downloaded to your computer if your subscription has lapsed.

There are some free versions of anti-virus software that you can download, including one from Microsoft called Microsoft Security Essentials. If you are running a current version of Microsoft Windows, then you already have Windows Defender built into the operating system that should be offering at least a minimum of protection.

Microsoft virus protection

Is It Too Late To Install Anti-Virus Software?

So you have determined that you have a virus, and it can’t be removed in the state your computer is in now. What can you do? The best bet is to create a bootable CD with virus scanning/removal built into it. By booting from the CD, you eliminate the possibility of loading a virus that automatically loads during a normal computer boot sequence. The operating on the CD will run a virus detection and removal program that will usually be able to eliminate any existing viruses on your computer. You can download bootable CD images from Kapersky, BitDefender, or others.

Keep in mind that if you don’t install computer virus protection after you’ve eliminated the virus, then your computer is just a likely to be re-infected.

Viruses and other malicious code like spyware, malware, Trojan horses, just to name a few propagate throughout the world through websites, emails, or online chatrooms. If you’ve been infected before, then you’ll likely be infected again at some point. The smart thing to do is to ensure your computer is protected right away!

Worst Case Scenario

If you’ve tried everything else, but you still can’t seem to get rid of malware infecting your computer, then the last resort is to reset your computer to factory settings. This WILL ERASE EVERYTHING ON YOUR COMPUTER. Be sure that you have backed up your data. Note that before you load your data back to your computer, it will have to be scanned for viruses also, otherwise you may just be loading the virus back onto your hard drive!

Many computer manufacturers ship their PC’s with a restore partition, so you may restore back to factory settings from that partition. Usually, they will have a set of install disks that either ship with the computer, or you may be prompted to create the disks. Be sure that you have or know where to get the disks before you reset your computer.