Given the current cyber-sphere, every day is a virus season for computers. A simple click on an ad on the internet, downloading a file or even using public Wi-Fi can put your computer on the risk of being infected.
Besides that, a computer virus can also be spread while connecting with an already infected removable drive, such as a USB drive.
People, who engineer computer viruses, aim at infecting vulnerable systems of a computer thus causing it to malfunction, as well as gaining user control and stealing user sensitive data.
Basically, once your computer is infected, the virus self-replicates by copying itself to another program and continues to spread into other executable documents.
This can go for a long period especially if you don’t have an antivirus installed in your computer, and by the time you notice, it might be too late.
With that said, before we even look into how to remove a computer, it is important to get familiar with the most common signs of an infected computer. Such signs include:
The computer becomes slow
As mentioned earlier, computer viruses do replicate themselves, which means that your computer will have a multitude of files that end up taking up a significant amount of space memory on your computer’s hard disk drives.
In turn, this slows down your computer making it perform basic functions, such as booting up and running applications, slowly.
So, the next time your computer becomes sluggish, you might consider scanning for malicious programs.
Nevertheless, if your computer is slow it does not necessarily mean that it is infected; it might be that you have too many files or running heavy duty applications.
Too many ads and pop-ups
If you surf the web too often and realize that you keep getting annoying ads and pop-up messages, chances are that your computer is infected with a malicious program known as spyware.
These pop-ups are not only annoying but also come with concealed threats designed to destroy your system. If let to run for a long time, you risk losing your personal data including passwords.
Computer viruses are known to cause running programs to crash by infecting the operating system.
However, to be sure it is a virus; you need to rule out the possibilities of hardware incompatibility or software instability.
Now that you are already familiar with common signs caused by a virus-infected computer, let’s delve into ways you get rid of the virus.
Generally, there are two ways to go about it; first, is by using antivirus and second, is the manual removal of a virus without using antivirus software. Let’s look into removing a virus using an antivirus:
Boot Into Safe Mode.
For most people, the obvious thing they would do when their computer is infected with a malicious program is running an antivirus program to scan and remove the virus.
As much as this may work, the antivirus software may not efficiently remove the virus. This is simply because many computer viruses store files in a registry folder that acts as a database of instructions which is responsible for telling your computer’s operating system important information about installed programs.
Therefore, the virus continues to be active as long as the operating system is running.
To give your antivirus program a better chance of completely removing the virus, you have to run the program in safe mode.
This ensures the virus is not active hence it is easier to remove since your machine will be running only on core elements of its operating system.
Moreover, in the event that you cannot access your antivirus software as a result of the virus or keep seeing the same virus even after running the antivirus, booting into safe mode will get the job done.
To enter into safe mode, reboot your computer and repeatedly press F8 or F5 depending on the operating system you are using; as soon as the computer starts running, select ‘safe mode ‘from the displayed menu.
Free Up Some Disk Space
Before running a virus scan with your antivirus program, it is highly recommended that you delete all the temporary files in your computer.
This approach goes a long way into ensuring that the scanning process takes the shortest time possible by reducing the number of files to be scanned.
For those files that you are sure are safe from the virus, you can save them onto a disk or any other external media to serve as back up.
When deleting files, ensure that you do not use system restore since by doing so, you will be creating a restore point for all the files including viruses’ files.
Therefore, it is a good idea to turn off the system restore and delete all the restore points so that the once you remove the virus, it will completely be off your computer.
The Disk Cleanup tools on windows operating system help in deleting temporary files, all you have to do is open System Tools option and then select Disk Cleanup.
Run a Full Scan with your Updated Antivirus Software
Now, this is the meat of the virus removal process. As such, it is important to ensure that your computer is equipped with the latest version of the antivirus program you are using, if not, be sure to download an upgraded version.
It is worth noting that, although there are antivirus programs freely available on the internet, the commercialized are the recommended ones since they come with extra features that the free versions don’t have.
Additionally, you have to make sure that you are downloading your antivirus software from trusted vendors.
Downloading from unreliable vendors may actually add more viruses into your computer. After downloading, scan for viruses and run the antivirus program to eliminate all the viruses.
In the event that your antivirus software can’t remove the virus on its own, take note of the name of the virus displayed by your antivirus and do extensive research on how to remove the virus.
Here is a head-start on some of the common computer viruses and how to remove them:
Resident viruses are the most common type of computer viruses that embed themselves on a computer’s random access memory (RAM) and continue to spread each time a particular function is performed.
One of its troublesome features is its ability to run away leaving behind the file that was initially infected.
The virus often takes advantage of the fact that many computer users like to multi-task. For instance, the virus will wait to be activated once you open your browser, it will affect all other programs that are currently running, when you open your browser.
Despite its trouble nature, the resident virus can easily be removed using antivirus programs including the free ones, thanks to the fact that it is quite common.
Moreover, if you are able to figure out which registry file has been infected by this virus, you can delete the file to get rid of the virus.
However, this method is ideal for those that are familiar with the registry; as such, deleting the wrong registry can have adverse effects on your computer.
Resident viruses come in many forms, shape, and sizes; to figure out which virus is in your computer, pay attention to the error messages you receive on your computer as a result of the virus. Afterward, search online for the error code to get the name of the virus.
Boot sector virus
This type of virus is mainly spread through removable media devices. The virus affects the master boot record of a computer making it challenging to remove this virus and often requires the system to be formatted.
However, the virus was common during the floppy disks error and thus has been declared almost absolute even though there are a few boot sector infection cases that pop up once in a while.
Polymorphic viruses are stubborn viruses that traditional antivirus programs can’t eliminate. These viruses use a special method of encoding every time they infect a system and keeps on changing this code each time the infected file is executed.
This makes it hard for antivirus software to locate or identify it. Polymorphic viruses are also capable of replicating easily.
Examples of common polymorphic viruses included; Tuareg, Marburg, Satan Bug Elkern etc.
Just as the name suggests, these viruses tend to destroy application data or a file by overwriting the content with its own code, thus losing the original content.
The viruses are also capable of installing new code in files or applications which programs them to spread the virus to additional files, systems, and applications.
Macro viruses target macro language commands in applications, for example, Microsoft Word.
In such applications, the macros are the keystrokes which are embedded in documents or saved sequences for commands.
These viruses are designed to add their malicious code to authentic macro sequences in MS Word file.
File infectors viruses
Lastly, is the file infector viruses which mostly come attached to program files, such as .exe files or .com.
These viruses also affect files that require execution such as .sys, .ovl, .mnu, and .prg. besides these, the viruses can also be spread through scripts sent in an email attachment or even as completely included program.
Recover and Install Damaged Files
Assuming that the viruses have been removed, you might need to reinstall files and programs that were damaged. This is where the backed up files come in handy.
If the viruses were not removed and still pop up after scanning with antivirus software, you might consider reinstalling your computer’s operating system from scratch to get rid of the virus. When reinstalling remember to first back up your computer’s setting.
Removing a virus manually is also an alternative if you do not need to pay for expensive antivirus software.
It is also an ideal option that you can try out before thinking of using an antivirus program. However, this method requires some certain level of skill in computing technology to remove the virus completely.
You should also be ready to spend a huge deal of your time when using the manual method to remove viruses.
Manually Remove a Computer Virus
How nasty the virus also affects the effectiveness of this method. Nevertheless, here are some quick steps on how to manually remove a computer virus.
Hold down the CTRL, ALT and DEL keys simultaneously to launch Windows Task Manager menu.
Once on the menu, click on the Processes tab and keenly look through every single process. If you see anything that looks unfamiliar, search online for the file name to see whether it is connected to any viruses. If it is infected with a virus, click the End process button for that particular file.
Launch your System Configuration utility and click on the Startup tab. Scan through the list of all programs displayed, paying attention to any abnormalities. If you see a program with a red flag, delete it from the list.
Click the start menu and navigate to your hard drive utility. Delete the infected files directly from your hard disk drive.
You can also use Windows’ Command Prompt to remove viruses. All you have to do is click on the start Windows menu and select Command prompt.
The system may ask you to sign in with your administrator account and password, so make sure you have the required credentials.
On the Command Prompt, type the drive letter where the virus file exists and then press Enter. The system will then delete the selected files.
Malicious software programs can lead to massive data loss besides affecting the overall performance of your computer.
It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that your computer is free from viruses by installing anti-malware as well as antivirus software which regularly scan and eliminate virus threats.
As a user, you should also avoid visiting unsecured websites and downloading files from unprotected sites.
In the event that your computer is infected, be sure to use the tips above to help you remove the viruses.