How to Remove Viruses and Malicious Software from a Computer

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Recently, I started picking up more IT contracts and I found that a common theme from clients were to fix systems that were infected with virus and other malicious software. During the troubleshooting process, I usually found that the infected systems did not have an antivirus program or if the system had one installed on it, the virus definitions have not been updated for some time.

I always recommend that if you own a computer that you at least need to have an antivirus program on your system and keep it up to date. But to truly keep your system safe you need to full internet security suite if its in the budget. If not, look into using free firewalls and free antivirus software. Then add your anti-malware protection suites for added protection.

How to Clean Up a Computer That is Infected With Malicious Software

When I get a request to look into errors on a computer I normally have the client describe to me what the error is and how it happens. Once I know how to recreate the error (if possible) I will trigger the error code and then look up that code to see what it is and how I can fix it. If there isn’t an error, I will use the computer for a little while and give it a tech evaluation. I am looking for things, such as a computer that runs to slow, programs crashing, getting blue screens, and any error codes that may come up. I also like to check system processes and see if there are any programs running that shouldn’t be. Then I check to make sure Windows is update, antivirus, firewalls, anti-malware software is update to date.

 Tools for removing antiviruses

Once I gather enough information, I will talk with the client. Once I get the approval to start working on the computer, I try and run windows updates and update the antivirus software packages if there is one installed. If the system doesn’t have any antivirus software, then I will have to install antivirus software and run some scans. Of course this can takes time. Image Source: Tools – Flickr.

If the system doesn’t have an internet security suite, I usually recommend a few. But if they aren’t interested in getting one, I will offer a few recommend free anti-malware programs. If they still aren’t interested I will educate them on the dangers of not having these valuable tools on their system. If they still do not want them on their system, I will install them since they are needed to clean and repair their system. Once I’m finished, I will remove them from the system

Anti-Malware Tools I use to Clean Up a Computer Infected With Malicious Software?

I use a variety of useful tools to remove infections from a computer. But the most useful tools in my tool box are:

Steps To Remove Viruses From a Computer

1. Once AVG is installed, I make sure its up to date. Then I run the virus scanner doing a full scan. This generally takes about an hour or two. But if its a large drive it could take more time. So be prepared for a long wait.

2. Once the scanner is finished scanning, take note of any infections the scanner found. You may want to do a search on the viruses and problem files it found. If do not want to, then do a repair.

3. After the repair is finished, update and scan Malwarebytes. This could take a few hours a well. Once, the scan is finished, take noet of any infections and problems files found. Then run the cleaner.

Then update and scan with Spybot Search & Destory. By now, your system should be cleaned, but I found that Spybot can catch things that Malwarebytes doesn’t and same goes for Malwarebytes. If Spybot does find anything, they are usually tracking cookies and other thing not so threatening files. Remove those as well. Make sure the files you remove are files you actually need to remove. Sometimes Spybot will find good files and might suggest you remove them. If you do it will disable those good programs. This hasn’t happened to me in years. But it is something to be aware of when using Spybot,  Normally Spybot will not suggest removing good files, if it does suggest files to remove, it might be because those programs are full of adware. You can either keep the programs or remove them.

4. Finally I will run CCleaner to clean up the system in general. CCleaner will check your system and it can help speed your system and help make it more secure.

5. Once I finish with the clean up, I will research the viruses found. What I am looking for is, if there is anything else I need to do to remove the virus and if there are any files on the system that needs to be repaired.

6. If there isn’t anything I need to do, I will test the system and see if any of the reported issues are still present. If there are then I need to start the process over but start will a little more research on the issues.

But if in my research the viruses caused file damage, I will have to follow the recommended procedures to repair the damage. In a lot of cases, someone has already created a hot fix application that will go in and fix your files for you. If not, follow the instructions from Microsoft or one of the virus removal communities.

Final Thoughts

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have anti-malware software and internet security software installed on your computer. From experience, I know that not having any protection will cost more than the up front cost of purchasing an internet security suite. As an IT consultant for an IT managed services firm, I see a lot of computers come in for virus removal. Most computers take between two and four hours to repair. The average price for an IT company to work on a computer is about $125 an hour. Even at our discounted rates, it could cost as much as buying a new computer to remove a virus.

If you do not want a premium internet security suite, at least look at downloading a free virus scanner and firewall.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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  1. When my computer is infected with viruses or any kind of trojan, my optimum solution is re-installing the computer as I don’t think using anti-virus software after being infected is effective.
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    • For my personal systems, I would wipe the computer and start over. But for most of my clients and other computer users, starting over with a fresh install isn’t an option. I work with first time client systems all the time and they almost never have a back up and they must have all their documents and programs (may not have copies of their programs) working. If I hand them a fresh install, non of their programs, documents or even their file structure isn’t how they had it before, They won’t be happy.

      They want these things saved and are a lot more happier if they don’t have to spend time finishing up the work an IT guy should have done for them(in their opinion). If I wipe a computer for a client and start over, I still have to scan for viruses, then I have to backup their data, install windows, add their backed up data to the system, reinstall all their software and then configure their system. In most cases this can take longer and cost more than fixing the problem.

      If a system is infected and the infection is completely removed and the damage is repaired, then adding anti-malware software works great and will keep a system cleaner and safer than if you didn’t have it. But you can’t just install the software and let the client have the system back. You need to spend a few minutes and educate them on how to use the anti-malware software, how they can get infected, and at the first sign of infection to run the scanners and give their IT guy a call to fix it before damage is to serious to fix.

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