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How to Get Rid of a Virus

Posted on the 04 October 2011 by Nerdywerds @NerdyWerds

Getting a virus, computer or otherwise, is a terrible experience. But this article is just what the doctor ordered.

Quick Links

  • Prevention
  • Routine Checkups
  • What if the virus fights back?
  • Last Step
  • Last Ditch Effort
  • Wrap up

Getting a virus can be one of the most frustrating experiences of a computer owners life. This frustration can be compounded by the cost of having a "geek" fix it for you. A cheap repair place will charge a minimum of $50 to look at your computer; and the costs could go up considerably after they know what they're up against. The truth of the matter is that you can normally fix your computer problems yourself, for free, in the comfort of your own home. It's not fool proof, computer viruses evolve even faster than biological viruses do, but if you can't fix it after this, you've got a nasty infection.

This article is targeted to Windows owners. Mac and Linux users don't have near the onslaught of malware that Windows users do, so their virus concerns are almost none.


Make sure you have an anti-virus installed

Prevention

I'm not going to rewrite my article on staying safe online. But I am going to gloss over it a bit. The most important step you can take in winning the fight with malware is preventative. Staying away from suspicious downloads and sites can cut down on the number of viruses your system encounters significantly. But in my mind, the most important step you can take is having proper anti-virus coverage. I'm going to cover some virus removal tools and tips later, but it's much simpler to just not have to deal with them at all. My personal recommendation is AVG Free. Once you've downloaded and installed your anti-virus, make sure you keep it up to date. Anti-virus programs work by checking for known viruses in a "virus dictionary". It is imperative that you let your anti-virus update it's dictionary often. If you're working on out of date information, you don't stand a chance against viruses.

There are two other programs you'll want to install; the first is Spybot-Search & Destroy and the second is Malwarebytes. Spybot is a spyware cleaner program, and Malwarebytes is the mother of all computer cleaners. We'll get to using these in a little while.

Routine Checkups

So you have your anti-virus and anti-spyware up and you're keeping it up to date. You're avoiding fishy links and not opening any more emails about male enhancement or free medicine and all seems well. Hopefully, it is, but most people I know don't hope they're well and avoid a doctor. Give your computer a monthly, or bi-weekly checkup. There are all kinds of viruses and malicious software out there, and not all of it crashes your computer. Some log your keystrokes, some siphon resources from your computer and some just sit there and do nothing. We don't want any of those on our computers, regardless of how bad they are. If you downloaded AVG, you just need to open it up, and click "scan now". It will then check all of the files on your computer and look for viruses in it's dictionary. I actually just looked and hadn't run a scan in two months. I just ran it and had one corrupted file. Not a virus, but not a happy file either.

As part of your routine checkup, you should also run Spybot and Malwarebytes. Spybot will catch most spyware, and Malwarebytes is the program I rely on to catch everything else. This is the program a lot of computer clean up services use. Malwarebytes does require manual update for the free version, so make sure you keep it up to date.


System restore points can really save your bacon

If you run a routine checkup and get a clean bill of health, you should create a system restore point. A system restore point is like a snapshot of your computer's files at a certain point in time. Creating a restore point allows you to have a fall back position in case the worst happens and you can't remove a virus or screw up your computer beyond repair. All you need to do is go to Start -> Control Panel-> System -> System Protection. Then just choose the option to create a restore point and you're done.

Take Action

Now for the part of the article you probably care about; what to do if you have a virus. The first thing you need to do is run a virus scan the moment you suspect an infection. I know it seems like this is too late, but we just need something that will find out what files are corrupted. After your scan, the anti-virus program should give you a report with the list of infected files. If there are none, congratulations, no known viruses, your computer is acting up for some other reason. If there are files in the list, it's time to go to war. Our first step is to attempt to remove the file. This step is not always successful, for one reason or another. If you can't remove the file through your anti-virus, then you should quarantine it. Computer quarantine is the same deal of the human version, the file is cut off from the rest of the computer so it can't infect any other files.

Once the files are quarantined, take note of the infections name and file infected. Then go to either AVG's Virus Removal Page or BitDefender's page. These two pages provide a lot of free virus removal tools. These are programs specifically designed to clean up a virus. These programs know the virus, and know what files and folders it will create and spread to. These are your best bet for wiping the viruses out. If you're not sure which one to download, do a search for the infected file name from your computer scan and someone out there will point you in the right direction. If they don't, feel free to drop me a line at this address, and I'll point you in the right direction.

As I mentioned earlier, Malwarebytes is awesome. After you've tried the virus removal tools and all I mentioned above, you're last step is to run Malwarebytes again and clean up whatever it finds. Malwarebytes should completely clean your system, leaving you virus free and ready to rock.

What if the virus fights back?

There will be times when you simply can not run certain programs or even start your computer. If this is the case, do not fret; we have a way around that, probably. Restart your computer and when you see your computer makers logo, start pressing f8 repeatedly. This will allow you to boot your computer up in safe mode, which only loads programs and files essential to start up. Once you've booted up in safe mode, run Malwarebytes and destroy those pesky malware.

Last step

This is not the most important step, but if you are paranoid like myself, you'll want to do this. Rerun your scans; all three of them. This is probably overkill, but I won't rest until I see that no program can find an infection. If your scans come up clean, congratulations, you've won this round. If not, read the next section for my last ditch fix.


If it gets to this, you've got one nasty virus on your hands

Last Ditch Effort

So remember at the beginning when I advised you create a restore point when your system was clean? Well, here's why. If you have a virus that is too beastly to confront with the previous steps, you'd going to need to restore your system to an earlier point. This will remove any files and programs that we're on the computer at the time the restore was created, so you should be going back to a virus free point. Hopefully you have any important documents backed up; they may be deleted in this process. Go to Start -> Accessories -> System Tools ->System Restore and follow the directions. This will completely restore your computer to the way it was when you made the restore point.

Wrap Up


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