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How to Clean a Virus-Infected Computer

Tip: Know the websites you visit!

There are MANY, many ways to pick up viruses on the Internet now days - but one I hear quite often is when people are trying to download a screen-saver. I would say ... don't do it (especially from websites you know nothing about)! Hackers and predators know that is one way to compromise your computer - sometimes without you knowing it. They attach a virus to the download and the next thing you know, someone has access to all of your personal information that is on your system.

Computer viruses are insidious, sneaky and - like their biological counterparts - constantly mutating. If you think your computer has been infected, the only safe course of action is to use a good anti-virus program. Follow the steps below to clean your computer.
As soon as you suspect that your computer has a virus, remove your computer from any networks it might be on, as well as from the Internet, so that you don't inadvertently spread the bug to others. Unplug your network cable if you have to.

If you have virus-scanning (anti-virus) software installed, run it.

If you don't have anti-virus software, you'll need to obtain some. If you can't get it from a network administrator or download it from an uninfected computer, you can buy it from a retailer like Best Buy or WalMart.
AVAST Free Edition - I've gone away from the new version of AVG (2011) - it has caused issues with several computers that I installed it on. I've done some research and found Avast does a great job for being free. (I've installed it on all of the pc's at the company I work for).
I would also strongly recommend Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (also has a free version). This will clean up malware that anti-virus software might miss.

Start your computer (still not connected to a network) and follow the instructions that came with the anti-virus software. It's really a good idea to start your computer in SAFE MODE and then run (or install) the anti-virus program. For more information on starting your computer in safe mode, visit the Microsoft Website - or click here.

Keep running the virus-scanning software until your computer comes up clean.

Reconnect your computer to the Internet and check with the anti-virus software's publisher to make sure you have the latest updates. If not, download them now.

After updating the anti-virus software, run it again until your computer comes up clean.

Tips & Warnings

  • Please keep in mind that the instructions above may not work with all types of viruses and infected computers. If you are not sure that you've cleaned (or can clean) your computer successfully, it's best to take it to someone that can - better that then to have someone hack into your computer and steal personal information!
  • Common sense also goes a long way toward keeping your computer clean. Never open an attachment from someone you don't know, and be suspicious of odd attachments from people you do know (a virus may have mailed itself to you from their computer).
  • Do not install more than one anti-virus program, as they can conflict with each other and cause problems or slow your computer down (or both). Installing AVG OR AVAST and Malwarebytes on the same computer is okay, as one is anti-virus and the other is anti-malware. Do not install more than one anti-virus program on a computer, as they can conflict with each other and cause problems.
  • Want to keep people (or your children) from viewing certain Internet content? For a free Internet filter, K9 Web Blocker does its job well, providing a broad collection of options for customizing your supervision needs.
    Most older computers - click here Newer 64 bit computers (Vista and Windows 7 operating systems) - click here

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