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How to Identify and Remove a Virus

Threats are everywhere in the online world, nowadays. From hackers to identity theft, there are plenty of shady figures who mean to do you harm and will use the internet to do it. One of the most common tools at their disposal are viruses and malware. These are software often designed to steal data, to render your computer inaccessible, or even to take direct control of your system. Here, we’re going to look at how you remove viruses from your computer and stay protected at all times.

How to get rid of a virus

There are a lot of different viruses and types of malware out there. Some of them are going to require specific guides to help you recognize and get rid of them. Naturally, we can’t prepare a comprehensive guide of how to delete every single virus known to man. That would be a tome of a webpage. We can, however, look at how you get rid of the vast majority of viruses and keep yourself protected in future. There are a few different means by which to delete viruses, which can sometimes be difficult to identify and even harder yet to remove. Here, we will look into them.

Recognizing when you’re infected

This can be one of the hardest things to do. Some viruses have functions that are obvious, such as throwing up ads to untrustworthy sites even if you’re offline or you have your adblocker on. Other viruses, however, run under the surface and don’t do anything that’s immediately obvious.

Besides unfamiliar ads or software popping up on your computer, what are some of the symptoms of a virus infection? Most viruses take some sort of toll on your performance, first of all. If the computer starts slowing, lagging, freezing or overheating more regularly, that could be a symptom. Keep a close eye on your browser, too. Viruses will often change your homepage, your bookmarks, or add new search bars and plug-ins you’re unfamiliar with.

Viruses also regularly lock up access to parts of the computer you’ve always used. The brightest red flag is when you can’t open your antivirus program. But sometimes, other software and files may be missing, too.

Backup your files

Sometimes, viruses can do a lot of damage and be terribly difficult to extract without causing some damage to your existing files. Even the most sophisticated antivirus might not be able to mitigate the damage entirely. For that reason, you should ensure that you have a backup system at all times, whether it’s a separate hard drive or a highly secured Cloud server that you can backup your important files to. This way, after you are done eliminating viruses, you can get back all your valuable data.

If you’re using physical storage like a hard drive or USB disk, you have to make sure that you are scanning it for any malware, too. These devices are common targets for viruses. If you don’t scan it, you are at risk of reintroducing the virus to your computer after you just eliminated it.

Getting out of the virus’s grip

As mentioned, many viruses will stop you from opening antiviruses, the very tools designed to remove them. How do you get out of their control? Opening your computer in Safe Mode is one way. Safe Mode is a state by which your computer doesn’t open any software immediately without your explicit approval. From safe mode, you can open an antivirus or perform a system restore, which is like a time machine that can take you back to before the malware spread. It might not erase the virus, but it can give you some leeway by which to remove it.

Get rid of the viruses

When in safe mode, the first thing to do is use RKill. If you’re unable to access the net, use another device to download this piece of software. What this does is identify any viruses that are still able to run in safe mode and eliminates them. This opens the way for your anti-rootkit and antivirus software.

Antiviruses are, without a doubt, the single most effective way of getting rid of them from your computer. If you have an antivirus, you might need a system restore to be able to access it again. If you don’t have a premium antivirus, now is the time to make the investment. Check out our reviews for some of the most reliable packages, including AVG, Avast, and Kaspersky.

These devices will scan the whole computer for malware, running your files up against a database of known viruses. They also have heuristics scanning which can even help them recognize viruses that aren’t in their directories. Premium antiviruses also contain protection against spyware, ransomware, and rootkits, more sophisticated software that can get past free security software.

Once you have removed the virus

Just as system restore can take you back to a point where your virus was its worst, it can also store dormant viruses, allowing them back into your system. After you are done with the virus scan and the rootkit removal, you want to go into your Disk Cleanup and delete all system restore points except the most recent one.

Using software like CCleaner (which is also free), you can delete the temporary files which may have also served as a backdoor for the virus in the first place. This software recognizes cookies you use for legitimate websites, however, and it won’t delete them.

How to stop this from happening in the future

Most viruses find their way on a system by means of the user. Browsing untrustworthy sites, downloading from unverified links and opening unfamiliar attachments are all easy ways to end up with a virus. Exercise a little more caution in future.

Keep your software updated, too. Antiviruses constantly update their database, so they are better able to recognize the latest and greatest threats. Even regular software, like Windows Office, needs to be updated as older versions tend to have more vulnerabilities that malware can worm its way through.

Viruses are ever evolving, as are the ways by which we protect ourselves from them. Make sure that you’re always keeping software, both security and regular, updated to keep vulnerabilities to a minimum and ensure you’re safeguarded from the latest threats.

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