How to Remove a Computer Virus

Ideally, your laptop or desktop PC is running a current version of antivirus software that has the latest virus definitions.  Also, your computer should be running a at least a regular weekly scan to check for viruses.  Lastly, your antivirus software should also be performing active scans of all incoming emails and attachments.  Even if you have done all of the above, it is still possible to end up with a virus on your Computer System.

If your periodic antivirus can or an incoming e-mail scan identifies an infected file, allow your antivirus software to either remove the infected files (delete the files) or quarantine them (segregate the files so that the infected files cannot spread).  When your antivirus software is scanning your hard drive in search of viruses or other malware, it is checking all of your files against a list of known or suspected malware.  This is why it is absolutely crucial to make sure your software is regularly updating its virus definitions and is up to date.  Without the latest updates, your antivirus software will not know which are the latest viruses or malware, and may miss them in a scan.  If an infected file cannot be deleted, your software will quarantine that file, which is nothing more than isolating the file on a location on your hard drive such that it will not infect or spread to any other portions of your hard drive.

Depending on how many different users use your computer, their Internet browsing and e-mail habits, and their overall sense of Computer Security, it is possible that you may end up with some very harmful and hard to identify malicious code or harmful files on your computer.  The first thing that most people ask themselves after they find a virus infecting their computer is: how did I get infected?

  1. You or someone using your computer visited a website that had harmful code embedded on that site and downloaded or installed infected files or malware onto your computer.  Stay away from “bad neighborhoods” on the internet that contain such malware.  Also, avoid deals “too good to be true” – usually they are decoys trying to entice innocent citizens to visit their websites so that they can infect your PC with a virus or browser hijack.

  2. You or someone reading email on your computer opened an attachment that they received by email thus allowing the embedded malware file (usually an attachment in the email) to execute on your computer releasing the infected files.

  3. You or someone using your computer inserted removable media such as a burned CD or DVD, USB flash drive, or memory card into your PC that contained an infected file or malware.  Once that media is inserted into your PC, the infected file(s) are granted access to your computer’s hard drive and the infection now spreads to your PC.

If you have done your normal scan using your antivirus client software, but suspect there may still be something wrong or other now where infecting your computer, we highly recommend running an online virus scan.  Online virus scans are extremely effective, and can be more comprehensive than the standard scans using the client software located on your PC.  This is partly due to the fact that you can run the online scan while your computer is in safe mode, and no programs are actively running on your PC thus preventing any place for malware to hide during an active scan.

After your Anti-Virus scan has identified a named-threat (Virus, Trojan Horse, Worm, etc.), we always recommend going to the Symantec Website (maker of Norton Antivirus) and entering the name of the threat in the search box on the upper-right hand side of the home page.  Symantec will then display a screen showing all of the pertinent details regarding that threat, such as when it was discovered, what operating systems are affected, how many PCs have been infected, and the severity of the threat (see below screen shot).  Once you are ready to remove the threat, simply click on the REMOVAL tab on the screen (see top Red Arrow) and follow the instructions.

Often, you will need to seek out certain files in buried in your operating system and deleted the files manually or perform other specific tasks – don’t worry, just follow the on-screen instructions.  NOTE: Not all anti-virus programs can remove a virus after finding them.

Symantec Threat Page

Top Red arrow points to the REMOVAL tab

In summary, it is critical that you have a current antivirus software installed and running on your PC.  Additionally regular updates to your virus definitions need to be accomplished in addition to a regularly scheduled full scan of your computer’s hard drive period this is one of the first things you should do upon purchasing a new PC.  Remember, the minute you have a live in a connection and are receiving emails, you are susceptible to Internet threats and now wear.  Often, these malicious files are received without the computer user having done anything wrong.  Most of the viruses and malware today are spread via e-mail, often spread by automated “bots” that may have infected your friends’ or family’s computers and thereby taking over their e-mail address books. 

This is why it is extremely important to be judicious in your e-mail reading practices.  Do not open attachments from people or entities that you do not know, and even the attachment from friends or family may be infected if their computers have been overcome by viruses.  Lastly, watch out for online scams propagated by e-mail in which impostors are trying to solicit your username, password, personal information, bank account and financial information.

For more information, check out our articles on how to browse the Internet safely , and how to avoid online scams also known as phishing.

List of the Latest Threats on the Symantec Website

List of the Latest Threats on the Symantec Website

Free Online Virus Scans

>>Trend Micro House Call – Free Virus Checker
>>BitDefender – Free Online Virus Scanner
>>Freedom Internet – Free Online Virus Scan
>>Kaspersky Webscan – Free Online Virus Scanner

Free Antivirus Downloads

There are several good, free Antivirus programs that you can download online.  Although not as flashy as the commercial products, and they lack the customer support, they are effective at protecting your desktop or laptop computer against computer viruses.  And, since their price is free, you have nothing to lose to download and install current antivirus software

>>AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition – Also offers a paid-version
>>Avast! – Free antivirus, firewall, spam-fighter
>>Comodo Antivirus – Free antivirus – also offers a security suite


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