Have you recently noticed the speed of your computer drop to a crawl, lots of pop-ups suddenly appearing at random, or other weird issues? If you have, your PC could be infected with a virus, adware, or some other malware - whether or not you have an antivirus program installed.
There are a few steps you can follow that can help.
Step 1: Enter safe mode
If you suspect your machine could be infected with malware, the best initial step is to boot your PC into Safe mode.
For Windows 7 or older, you need to do the following:
- Shut down your machine.
- Turn your PC back on.
- Tap the F8 key repeatedly when you begin to see anything on the screen.
- From the Advances Boot Options menu, select Safe Mode with Networking.
- Press Enter.
If you are running Windows 8, that same method might not work. In the event that this happens, you will need to:
- Press both the Power button and the Shift key on your keyboard at the same time.
- Click Restart.
- Windows will prompt you to choose an option. Click Troubleshoot.
- In the Troubleshoot screen, click Advanced Options.
- In Advanced options, press Startup Settings.
- Click Restart to change Windows options and enable Safe Mode.
- Upon the machine restarting a screen will display nine startup configurations. Press F5 to go into Safe Mode with Networking.
Step 2: Download, Install, and Run Malware Scanners
Now that you are in Safe Mode, you are ready to scan for malware. Some highly regarded programs include Bitdefender Free, Malwarebytes, and Superantispyware. Just remember that no antivirus program can detect 100% of the millions of malware and their variants.
Step 3: Keep your PC clean
After you have completed scanning and removing malware, make sure you have a decent real-time antivirus program running on your PC. If you choose not to spend money on a yearly subscription, there are many free options out there, a few being Avast, AVG, and Microsoft Security Essentials. The latter of which can be installed on Windows 8 by default (renamed as “Windows Defender”). Next, it would be a good idea to check your online accounts, like bank, email and social networking sites. Look for any suspicious activity and change your passwords as some malware can capture your passwords. Finally, make sure you keep programs and Windows up-to-date and ensure that Windows Update is enabled to download and install updates automatically.
Originally written by John Holowell
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