Your web browser becomes unresponsive or freezes often. It’s running slow, even slower than usual. Your fans are wailing like banshees. You’re getting redirected to random sites you weren’t trying to access. Pop-up messages are attacking you every few minutes.
Your computer probably has a virus.
Not to mention a computer can be infected without any warning signs at all. Here’s a quick guideline on how to clean an infected computer.
1. Enter Safe Mode
Unplug all USB drives and remove CDs and DVDs from your computer, then proceed to shut down. Press F8 a few times when you restart to open “Advanced Boot Options”. In this menu, go into Safe Mode with Networking to use only the most necessary programs and services. Running the computer in safe mode will keep malware at bay if such is programmed to load when Windows starts automatically.
2. Save Documents, Videos, and Photos
…and any other things you wouldn’t want to lose. Viruses often hide in program files, so we’d advise against backing those up. Plus, you can download any program again if you want to. Save all your important stuff on a USB stick.
3. Download Malware Scanners
Some of the best on-demand scanners are SUPERAntiSpyware, Malwarebytes, Emsisoft Emergency Kit, Stinger, and Dr.Web CureIt. We recommend downloading at least two. You might have trouble connecting to the Internet. In this case, use another computer and move the scanner to yours using a USB. Install the program, following set-up instructions.
4. Perform a Scan
Go directly to the scan. It will pull up a list of malware and have it removed. Some scanners also pull up a list of PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), which you can add to an exclusions list.
Restart your computer and run a scan again, this time using another program, to make sure your computer is clean. You can also try programs targeting adware apart from PUPs – just type “adware cleaner” into Google. If this program finds more infections, restart your computer again.
5. OS Update
Update your browser, apps, and operating system. Take advantage of any additional software updates that may be available. Programs that take advantage of outdated software can deliver some of the most dangerous forms of malware.
6. Password Reset
Before you managed to delete it, the malware may have remembered your passwords and made this data available to unconscientious Internet users. Change all of your passwords, especially if you do online banking, and make sure they’re as strong as possible.