What to do if you think you have a virus.
A virus on a computer can manifest itself in many ways. And sometimes not at all. Also there is somewhat of a grey area as to what is a ‘virus’ and what can be classified as ‘malware.’ For the purposes of this article we are going to keep things simple and assume that all nasties are one and the same.
Firstly, it is best not to let yourself get to this stage. The old adage – ‘Prevention is better than the cure,’ certainly applies here. These days most people are aware of this and run some sort of Antivirus protection. And, of course, Windows 10 has built in protection. I will list some of the more common free and paid solutions at the bottom of this article.
There are other steps you can take as well. One of the most important of these is to make sure your data is backed up, also make sure that this back-up is unplugged from the system once the back-up is complete. One of the most devastating virus infections will encrypt your data, and demand a ransom to give you back access to your own data. This, for obvious reasons, is called ransomware. The virus itself is normally easily removed, the damage can be rarely undone, even if you pay the ransom. Having your data backed up means you are safe from this. However if you have your backup device attached to your system once you get infected, then your backup will also likely be infected. I have seen this many times in the past. Best avoided.
So how do I know if I have a virus?
While some of the following list can have other root causes, they can all be caused by viruses and malware. Therefore, it is our common practice to consider an infection when looking at such behaviour.
- Slow running computer – This is a very common symptom of a virus. If your system is suddenly a lot slower than it was, then it is worth running a quick scan. However, a slow running system is just as likely to have another cause. Ironically, in my experience, one of the most common causes is a misbehaving Anti-Virus program. But still worth checking.
- Pop-ups and web page redirects. If you are being bombarded by popup browser windows or once you click on a link you are not taken to the expected page, you have a virus or malware. I’d bet my house on it.
- One of the most obvious signs is if you suddenly get a browser that looks something like this.
Of course there are a whole host of other signs. But these are the common ones.
How do I get rid of it.
Mostly it can be achieved by just running a scan using whatever Anti-Virus software you have installed. Doing this does not always guarantee success though. I mean you already had the software running and you still got infected. Right? But it is worth always trying this method first.
Perhaps the most successful piece of software I have come across for clearing systems of obstinate infections is Malwarebytes. There is a free version which can be downloaded and can be used to scan and clean your system. But there is also a paid for version. I have no affiliation to Malwarebytes, but I would highly recommend the software as a first line of attack if your resident Anti-virus failed. I have been using it for more years than I care to remember and I would think the success rate is 99%.
You can download malwarebytes from here :-
To be honest, if this doesn’t work for you then, depending on your technical acumen, you are probably better getting an expert to help. But, if you fancy having a go at it, then – as always, a quick Google search will provide a host of solutions. Be careful though, a lot of these solutions require playing about with the system registry and system files. If you are unsure of what you are doing, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
What Antivirus should I use?
How long is a piece of string? The choices are numerous, and also advice on this subject could change on an almost daily basis, such is the evolution of this field. I will list a few, the first of which are free.
Free Antivirus software
AVG – This one has been around for years, most people will have heard of it. A nice solid performer, although as with all Antivirus programs, it can get a bit clunky. The link is AVG Download
Avast – Another golden oldie. Now I will be honest, I haven’t used this one for a while, but it has always been a nice all-rounder and I have had very few issues with it. So if you want to be absolutely certain, please check some up-to-date reviews. The link is Avast
Avira – A solid performer, I use this one a lot. It isn’t always my first port of call, but sometimes I have had trouble getting other Antivirus suites to install. This software always seems to manage this without problems. The link is Avira
Bitdefender – I have always had a soft spot for this software, so much so that I became a reseller for them, that was many years ago and I no longer have any affiliation with them. However it was always a really intuitive piece of software that didn’t eat up too many system resources. In saying all that I have absolutely no experience of the free version. The link is Bitdefender
Panda Dome – I could list many more, but these are the main ones that I have personal experience of. But, I have to add Panda Dome to this list. Personally I used this software for years and I hate to think how many of my clients systems I installed it on, certainly hundreds. It was always very light on the system, and rarely had any issues. The link is Panda Dome
There are numerous others available, but one choice that is often overlooked by Windows 10 users, is the built in security solutions that Microsoft have included with their Operating System. On my home system I’m more than happy to rely on this.
What Antivirus should I purchase?
I’m not going to list any of these, I would recommend some research before any purchase is made. For most users, a free version, a data backup and a bit of common sense will be enough.
However, if you are running a business and your systems are mission-critical, then you will want to step it up a gear. The most widely known solutions are McAfee and Norton(Symantec). However, it is always worth considering the paid version of the free software I have listed. Also, companies like Kaspersky, Sophos and many others are worth having a look at. Indeed, I would certainly be tempted to look beyond the big two, as being big does not always mean being the best.
If you need specific advice about what paid solution is best for you, a contact form is below. We would be pleased to hear from you. Similarly, if you need any advice on any points that have arisen from this article, then please get in touch. And obviously if you suspect you have a virus and need some help to clear it, then fill in the form. Advice is, and always will be, free.
I hope this article has been of assistance.