You don’t need to wait for your Windows PC to lag and restrict your work pace to get some cleaning done. Just keep looking for common symptoms that spell out a potential malware attack: slower-than-usual computer performance, unusual presence of annoying pop-ups, and other weird stuff (you get the point). Yes – these things could happen even if you have an antivirus program installed on your PC for safety measures.
So how do you deal with the situation? You don’t really need to flip out when you find out that your computer is acting up, but you can take some preventive measures to deal with the problem as you see it happening. We’ve composed a step-by-step guide to help you get rid of malware from your Windows PC. Stay glued.
How Do You Know If Your PC is Infected with Malware?
Before you go for the malware removal process, check out these common symptoms, which indicate the presence of a potential threat on your PC. If your device is infected with malware, you will clearly see the symptoms your device shows. Here are some of them:
- Your computer becomes slower than its usual performance. Sometimes it even crashes frequently and lags or shows a blue screen of death error.
- Frequent ad pop-ups or intruder ads show up on your screen, hindering your performance and slowing down your PC.
- You will see a new browser add-on on your web browser that you don’t remember installing.
- Inappropriate advertisements that are difficult to get rid of.
- Unnecessary files on your computers that you can’t get rid of.
- Suddenly your device runs out of space.
- High CPU usage by some unknown or corrupted system files.
- Malware can damage your system drivers, and that causes high CPU usage on your PC.
You will know through these signs if your computer is infected with malware. But you can take precautions beforehand and try to prevent the malware from further damaging your system.
How to Remove Malware from Your Windows PC?
Only having antivirus software won’t ensure your PC stays free from malware, spyware, or another virus. Especially if you’re using a free tool to scan your Windows PC, you may invite trouble on your own. However, if your Windows PC already shows the symptoms mentioned above, it’s better to follow the steps below to remove it.
Step 1: Go into Safe Mode
The idea here is to shut out your (infected) PC from all forms of data transmission from the internet. Remember only to do this once you are ready and complete with all the necessary tools you need to clean your PC.
When up for the task, boot your Windows PC into Microsoft’s Safe Mode. Running your PC on Safe Mode uses only the minimum resources for special purposes such as cleaning up your system. If any suspicious programs automatically run when you start Windows, going into Safe Mode can help prevent this from happening. This is quite important because it makes the task of cleaning your system much easier because these pesky programs are not active or are temporarily disabled.
Step 2: Delete your Temporary (Junk) Files
Now, after you’ve gone into Safe Mode, you will want to run a virus scan to take care of the buggy applications or files that come up every time you use your computer, but before you do just that, make sure to delete all temporary (internet) files on your drive. Doing so will free up some disk space and even get rid of some malware. You can do this by looking up ‘Disk Cleanup’ from your Windows taskbar. Just click the start button and type in Disk Cleanup on the search bar, and select the tool that comes up.
Step 3: Download a Malware Scanner
After the initial preparations, you are ready to let a malware scanner do its job. If you already have antivirus software installed, you may want to use a different scanner for this malware check because the antivirus program may not have detected the malware in the first place. The unspoken truth is no antivirus program can detect all of the malware out there (because there are over a million types and variants!).
Also, there are two types of antivirus software: real-time and on-demand scanners. As a rule of thumb, you should only have one real-time antivirus software installed at a time, but you can have several on-demand scanners installed to ensure that if one program misses something, another one might detect it.
And if you think your PC is already infected, it is highly recommended to use an on-demand scanner before you do a full scan with a real-time antivirus program. Some of the free and dependable on-demand scanners include the Kaspersky Virus Removal tool, BitDefender Free Edition, Avast, Malwarebytes, Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, and SuperAntiSpyware.
Note: Before you proceed with this step, you need to download an installer of any of the above-mentioned on-demand scanners. After you’ve downloaded and installed the program, run an update before you do a scan. Doing this will update your scanner’s database and library of known malware types and variants currently out there, thus, increasing its chances of detecting more types of infections in your computer.
Step 4: Set up your Web Browser
Malware attacks can destroy Windows system files and mess up your PC’s settings. One typical feature of a malware infection is to change your web browser’s homepage to reinfect your system, display ads, hamper your browsing activity, and annoy the @#$% out of you. (Oops!)
So before you do anything, review your homepage and connection settings. For IE, click the Windows Start button, go to the Control Panel, and then click Internet Options. Go to the homepage settings under the General tab, and make sure that you don’t see a website listed there that you have nothing to do with.
For Chrome, Edge, and Firefox, go to the settings window of your browser to check for your homepage settings.
Step 5: Recover your data if Windows has been corrupted
When all else fails, you may be left with only the option to reinstall your Windows system. But before you take on that big jump, don’t forget to back up all your files to an external USB or flash drive. If you’re checking your emails through a client program (i.e., Outlook or Windows Mail), be sure to export all your settings and messages to save them.
Additionally, you may want to back up your device drivers with a utility program such as Double Driver, in case you don’t have all the driver discs safely stored somewhere or would rather not go through the trouble of downloading your drivers all over again (nuh-uh!). Naturally, you can’t save installed programs, but you can reinstall them once again.
After you’ve accomplished your Windows backup, you can now proceed to reinstall your Windows software either through the disc that came with your PC, by downloading the installation image from Microsoft, or by using the factory restore option in your PC, if there’s any. To learn more about factory Restore, best consult your PC’s manual.
Protecting Your Computer from Malware Threats
There are so many ways how malware or other viruses can get into your system. So, knowing about those resources beforehand will help you prevent malware from getting into your device. Here are some of the online practices you need to follow when browsing the internet from your computer.
- Don’t open suspicious links, websites, or emails: Sometimes malicious people get a hand on your email address, and they share infected images, links, word files, etc. If you download or open those images, they can infect your PC. Same with suspicious websites such as adult websites and low-rated websites. The websites that have no reputation or have a bad reputation are better off left alone.
- Stop using Torrent sites or a VPN: Most torrent websites have malware and viruses that can infect your PC. If you have to browse those sites, try to change your IP address for good with a VPN. Additionally, if you find a suspicious file appearing on your computer and you don’t remember downloading it, delete that file. Learn More here about how VPN can help.
- Clean your trash can and Downloads folder often: We often forget to check our Downloads folder even though we download loads of files daily. How would you know if you have a virus-infected file staying there? Like real-world viruses, internet viruses can migrate from one place to another and get your other files infected. So, try to keep your Downloads folder up-to-date and clean out your Trash folder frequently so there are no unrecognized viruses.
- Use strong passwords for your accounts: After cleaning your computer with an antivirus program, you want to change all your passwords. Use unique and strong passwords for your online accounts and file vaults. Unique passwords will be a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols that are hard to recognize. Avoid using words found in the dictionary because they are easy to hack through dictionary-attack. You can use the Norton password generator to generate new strong passwords for your accounts. And to remember those passwords and store them safely, use a password manager.
Note: Now, this one is not related to online activities but should be mentioned. You should not connect your computer to an unknown external device, for example, if you connect your friend’s pen drive to your computer for transferring files, make sure that that drive does not contain viruses. You should also be careful when transferring your files to another device via a flash drive or equivalent so as not to spread viruses on other devices.
Keep your PC Clean
As mentioned above, it’s always a good thing to have real-time antivirus software running on your PC, but just be sure to have your program updated. And while you’re at it, you can also sign up for a reliable VPN service to ensure that your connections are fully encrypted and secure from virus and malware attacks, along with many other benefits. VPN Surf provides such services to help you bypass all the prying eyes on the internet. That’s why any malware or spyware can’t enter your system while connected to VPN Surf and browsing online. Stay connected for more information on keeping your privacy safe. Drop a comment in the below box for more information.
You can also check The Current State of Malware on MacOS.
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