How to Remove Malware from Your PC
If your system performance has suddenly dropped or if you are seeing strange windows popping up while using your computer, there is a good chance that your system may be infected with a virus, adware or some other malicious file.
In this article, I intend to show you the steps that you should take when attempting to remove a malicious file from your computer or laptop.
One thing that all computer users need not be reminded of is the use of antivirus software. These programs are designed to scan your system in real-time in order to monitor and remove malicious files even before they do damage to your computer. That is why it’s very important that you have one of these programs up and running on your computer at all times.
However, having an antivirus program running on your computer does not make it 100% secure. Your computer could get infected by another device attached to your network, or by someone deliberately installing a malicious file on it, such as a remote access Trojan virus. These Trojan files will usually remain dormant on your computer until the hacker attempts to use it to gain access to your system.
You also have your phishing schemes which are very difficult to protect yourself from, especially if you’re unfamiliar of what to look out for. You also have those rouge applications which are designed to look and appear like legitimate tools, but once you install them on your computer, it gets infected. Always download third-party applications from reputable sources.
It’s not always obvious, when a system has been infected with a malicious file. But there are many signs that you can look out for, such as the performance issue (as I’ve already touched on) and unusual warning messages.
If you think your computer may be compromised, there are a number of things that you can and should do. Here are the steps that I personally take.
Update or Install Security Software
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your existing antivirus software is up-to-date with the most recent virus definitions, as it’s these definitions that the software will use to detect and remove viruses from your computer. Antivirus software developers are constantly updating their software as and when new viruses become known to the public. New viruses emerge almost every day, so you’ll want to ensure your software is being updated regularly.
If you don’t have any security software installed on your computer, then I recommend you acquire some immediately. AVG, Avast, Panda, Norton are just some of the many brands you should look into.
If you’re using your system for business purposes, then you’ll need to acquire a full security suite, which will come with all the various features to ensure your data remainsfrom free malicious files and hackers.
You should also look into acquiring firewall software. Most routers come with firewall software built in, which is a good thing, but for extra security, it’s best that you have firewall software installed on every computer in your household.
Enter Safe Mode
Once you’ve acquired your antivirus software and updated it, before you start any scans, ideally you’ll want to disconnect your computer from the internet, as this will help prevent any malicious file from propagating itself around your computer.
To do this, I recommend you boot into Safe Mode. In this mode only the processes that are required are loaded up. So if there are any malicious files that have been set to load during boot up, entering this mode will prevent them from doing so. This also prevents your antivirus software from being blocked from deleting any active malicious files. A feature built into Windows called share file violation.
To boot into safe mode, the end user need only do the following:
1. First, start up your computer, then press the F8 key, right after the POST (Power on Self Test) Screen.
Note: for Windows 10 users, the process is a little different. Firstly, you’ll need to boot into Windows. Once you’ve done that, click on the Power button, then hold down Shift key and click on Reboot.
When the Choose an Option screen appears, click on Troubleshooting, then Advanced Options and lastly Startup Settings.
Then click on Restart and the Startup options screen should appear, select Number 4 (which is Safe Mode) and it will boot into Safe Mode.
Once you’re in Safe Mode, you may notice things running noticably faster. This is likely because you have less programs running in the background, or it could be because your computer is infected with a malicious file. Either way, a speed difference is typically noticeable and normal.
Delete Temporary Files
It’s not imperative that you carry out this step, but it can help. Deleting temporary files will typically speed up the scanning process. You can delete your temporary files by using Disk Cleanup; to access this tool, simply do the following:
1. First, you need to have successfully booted into your computer, ideally in Safe Mode.
2. Then press Windows Key + R, to open the Run Command box, then type c:\windows\SYSTEM32\cleanmgr.exe c:\ and click on OK.
Run a Virus Scan
Once you have carried out all of the steps above, the last thing for you to do is run a full antivirus scan of your computer. Ideally, you’d want to do it with your own security software; however there are other tools, such as Malwarebytes and SpyHunter, which you may also want to consider running in this mode. These tools are commonly referred to as second opinion malware scanners, because they are commonly used as a second line of attack against these malicious files.
Other tools include TDSKiller, HitmanPro and much more.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website compuchenna.co.uk.