How to get rid of a computer virus

Whether it’s slower-than-normal performance, pop-up messages that keep appearing or your computer’s hardware is making a lot of noise, there are warning signs that your PC or laptop might have a virus. If you suspect or know that you’re already infected on your computer, then these are the steps to take immediately.

Removing the virus


Step 1: Enter safe mode

To help prevent any malware from spreading or leaking your personal data, you’ll need to quickly disconnect your netbook, laptop or computer from the internet and don’t reconnect again until you’re able to clean up the virus. You’ll also need to enter safe mode, this is important as it means that only the minimum required programs and services are loaded and any malware that’s set to load automatically when your computer starts won’t be able to. It also makes removing any malware easier as they won’t actually be running or active.


Step 2: Delete temporary files

Now your computer is in safe mode, any temporary files will need to be deleted. By deleting any temporary files, you can speed up virus scanning or even get rid of a virus that was designed to start when you switch on your computer. You can do this by running the Disk Cleanup tool, or by searching %temp% in the start menu and deleting any files found in the folder that opens.


Step 3: Download a malware scanner

Real-time and on-demand are the two types of scanners that can detect and delete viruses. Real-time scans for viruses in the background while you’re using your computer, while an on-demand operating system scanner has to be run manually every time you want to complete a scan. You may need both types to remove the virus, so if you don’t already have a virus scanner installed, you can now reconnect to the internet and download one. There are also free malware removal tools, so you don’t need to spend any additional money to get an extra level of protection.


Step 4: Run a virus scan

Run the on-demand scanner first and then run the real-time scanner, running both scanners will increase a successful clean up off the virus. The virus might need to be removed manually, which means contacting an IT expert or network technician if you’re not experienced in doing so to avoid deleting the wrong system and program files.


Step 5: Recovering files and improving defenses

Once you’ve detected and removed the virus successfully, there may be some programs or files that will need reinstalling if they were damaged by the virus. Making regular backups of your files and storing them on an external hard drive means you won’t lose any important information if you get another computer virus. Keeping your antivirus software up to date is important as new viruses are created all the time, and take steps to avoid clicking on pop-up messages or opening email attachments from unknown senders.