Computer virus: how to remove it

If your PC has ever been infected - or worse, if it’s infected right now - you’re probably groaning. Yes it’s a pain, but the good news is you can
remove viruses yourself, for free

STEP 1:  Back up documents, photos and videos

Save your important data to an external drive. Make sure you scan this drive and its contents after you remove the virus; you don’t want to re-infect your computer after the clean-up

STEP 2: Reboot in Safe Mode

You have to prevent the virus from running when you try to remove it. To do this, reboot in safe mode.  Safe mode runs only the Windows operating system and a few key programs. It’s a way to limit any malware from launching

Restart your computer and hit the F8 key on the keyboard repeatedly until you get to a black screen with the option of restarting in Safe Mode.  Choose ‘Safe Mode with Networkin'” so that you can still get on the Internet

STEP 3: Download virus scanner/removal tools

NMTBP recommends downloading two to three different programs to find and remove the malware. One may do the job, but three will almost certainly do the job. These three come highly recommended by PC Magazine and CNET:

PC Tools

STEP 4: Run virus scanners

Download, double-click to install, accept all the defaults they recommend, and then run each. This will take a while. When the programs locate a virus or any suspicious items, allow the programs to delete the files

STEP 5: Reboot normally

Reboot your computer normally; no need for safe mode. You should be back to normal now. If you have files backed up on an external drive, plug it in and use the security programs you downloaded to scan that drive before you open or transfer any files.  If the virus is gone, go to step 6.


Many people will recommend you reinstall Windows or try system restore or download a registry cleaner. We say that at this point, most people
should take the computer to a local PC repair shop. It should cost you about £75 to get the virus removed and a clean version of Windows
installed. It is a personal decision how you proceed from here, but take into account the value of your time

STEP 6: Add security

How did you get that virus in the first place? Even if you don’t know, it’s clear you need more protection.  PC Tools is a real-time virus scanner
that you can use as your ongoing protection, or install something like Avast or AVG.  All three are very good, free, anti-virus programs. Also
Microsoft’s Security Essentials comes well recommended

You should also go to the Control Panel of your computer, and in the security section click Windows Update. Make sure that it’s set up to
regularly update.  And if you think someone else accidentally installed malware on your computer, it’s a good idea to give other members of the
family their own sign-on accounts that don’t have admin privileges

This way, if someone tries to download software that could harbour viruses, they won’t be allowed to. And yes, this means you should keep your admin password private.  (Also, if they’ve installed any file-sharing programs, now would be a good time to remove them. Peer-to-Peer music
and movie sites do expose you to a lot of junk)

STEP 7- Damage control

Viruses are a gateway to identity theft and spam. So after you disinfect your computer it’s a good idea to check your credit (Experian allows you to get a credit score free of charge)

You should also change all your passwords, especially your email password and any passwords for your financial institutions

Good luck!

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