With a number of online threats these days, having a few malware on your device is not that hard to imagine. Especially if you don’t have extra protection. Catching them can have several different consequences, but make no mistake – none of them are good for you.
You might experience different things. For example, your computer might run slower than usual. A lot of pop-ups are also a clear sign, as well as other weird and unusual occurrences.
If this sounds familiar to you, then you might just have an infestation on your hands. Having an antivirus helps, sure, but it is not a perfect solution by itself. In fact, if you only use an antivirus, you can barely consider yourself protected.
Of course, it is possible that you don’t have a malware since similar issues also follow hardware failure. Still, it is better to check and make sure. Especially since having a malware might lead to some much bigger problems. So, let us see how you can do it yourself in a few simple steps.
Run a Safe Mode
The first thing to do is to cut your PC from the internet completely. Do not establish a connection until you are sure that your device is completely safe. That way, if it turns out that you do have a malware problem, you will prevent it from leaking any of your data.
Next, boot your PC into a Safe Mode. When you run a Safe Mode, only truly necessary programs will run. This may even prevent malware from running as well. And, it will definitely help when it comes to removing files if it turns out that you do have an infection.
Running a Safe Mode is a bit more complex on Windows 10 than on Windows 7 or 8. This is unfortunate, but it is still possible with relative ease if you know how to do it. Start by going to your Start button, and then click the Power button. Basically, you do the same thing as you would when you want to reboot, only you don’t do anything after opening the menu.
Now hold down Shift, and then hit reboot. The full-screen menu will appear, and when it does, click Troubleshooting. Then go to the Advanced Options, and then finally, click Startup Settings. Find the restart button on the next screen.
Another menu will appear, this one with numbers, each of which will have an option. Number 4 is the Safe Mode, so click that one. There is also a Safe Mode with Networking on the very next number. However, you need an internet connection for that one, which should be disabled at this point.
Also, if your PC runs faster when in Safe Mode, that could mean that you have malware. However, it might also mean that you only have a lot of demanding programs that are slowing it down.
Delete temporary files
By now, you should have Safe Mode running. If you do, it is time for a virus scan. First, however, you should get rid of the temporary files, since it will make the rest of the process a lot faster. Also, it will release some disk space, and who knows, it might even delete a malware or two along the way.
So, to do this, you should use Windows 10’s Disk Cleanup utility. Finding it is simple, and all you need to do is type it in in your search bar. Alternatively, you can find it in the tool section when you click on the Start.
Get malware scanners
Finally, you are ready to scan your device and remove any malware that you might have. Most standard infections will go away if you use a decent malware scanner, which is what you will do.
If you have an antivirus running on the device, you should download a different one for this scan. We are sure that your antivirus does whatever it can to protect you. However, not every antivirus picks up on every malware, and using a backup from time to time is good.
Do not blame your antivirus, since no piece of software is perfect. Also, antivirus companies are trying to keep up with viruses, but a virus always comes first. Only then can the cure follow.
When it comes to antivirus software, there are two kinds. One is the antivirus that protects you in real-time. This is likely the kind you are already familiar with. It runs constantly in the background and watches for threats all the time while your device is working.
The other kind is a scanner that works on demand. This is the kind that you have to open manually and run a scan by yourself when you feel the need to. When it comes to these scanners, you can download as many of them as you want. However, when it comes to real-time antivirus, only use one at the time. If you use several of them at once, they might mess up one another.
You should start by doing an on-demand scan, and then try a real-time antivirus scan as well. There are really rare cases where more than this would be necessary in order to detect and remove a malware, so you should be fine.
As for which ones to use, there are some really good ones that are also free. Those include Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, BitDefender Free Edition, Avast, Malwarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware, and Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool.
Run a scan
As an example, we will use Malwarebytes to get you through the process of scanning for malware.
First, you need to download it, if you don’t already have a version of it on your PC. If you have already disconnected from the internet, establish a connection again, just for the purpose of this download. When the download is done, you can disconnect again, and only then perform a scan.
Alternatively, you can download the software on another computer. Then, simply put it on the USB flash drive, and connect the drive to the other computer. Of course, make sure to update the program after you install it.
The installation itself is easy. Simply start by running a setup, and then follow the process as it leads you. The program will activate a free trial of the premium version, so you will easily start the scan immediately after finishing the installation. The free trial usually lasts for about two weeks.
Running a scan is easy as well, and it all comes down to a few clicks. The first one is when you switch to the Scan tab from your Dashboard. The next one is the Start Scan. This is literally all it takes to do the scan, and after that, all you can do is wait.
Malwarebytes offers a custom scan, where you choose by yourself where it should look. Despite this, you should first try a threat scan. This is the best option, and it will find anything there is to find.
As for the time it takes to complete the scan, it depends. The quick scan might last from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how much files you have. The custom scan usually lasts longer, from 30 minutes to a full hour, and sometimes even more than that.
In the statistics part, you will see how many files were scanned, as well as the number of detected threats. Now, there is a possibility that your Malwarebytes will go down after the scan starts. If this happens, and you can’t reopen it, it is usually a sign of a deep infestation.
Such extreme cases are known to kill off instantly any antimalware program that tries to look for them. If that is the case, then the best thing you can do is to completely reinstall Windows. There are other methods of dealing with such strong infection, but reinstalling the entire system is both faster and easier. Only remember to backup your files first.
If the Malwarebytes stays active, wait for it to finish the scan. When it does, you will see the results and know if you were right to believe that there is malware on your device. If the scan turns out empty, then try the custom scan, but only if you are still not sure.
Alternatively, if it does find a number of threats, you can remove them by clicking Remove Selected button. You will find it in the lower-left part of the screen, and that will get rid of the problematic files. After that, restarting your computer is the next and final step.
However, if you find that the problems are still there, you should try a full scan of your device. You might even want to try another scanner as well. This might take a while, but it is definitely worth it.
Fix your browser
Malware can often damage your system files, as well as other settings. They will almost always try to mess with your browser by modifying it. That is why you should take precautions, and here is what you should do.
First, go to the Start button, and then to Control Panel. Find Internet Options, and then go to the General tab. There, look for Home Page settings, and make sure that the set website is the one you approve of. Chrome, Firefox, and Edge users can do the same in the browser itself.
Recover the files if Windows is corrupt
As we mentioned earlier, your Windows might be so deeply infected, that the only reasonable option is to reinstall it. However, you should first backup your files, and the best way to do it is to save them on the USB. Export all of your settings for different programs, and make sure that they are safely stored.
You should also backup your drivers with Double Driver if you don’t have them on discs. This way, you won’t have to download them again. Every program that you have will need reinstallation when you finish with reinstalling your Windows.
When you have backed up everything you wish to save, reinstall the system, and you should start with a clean slate once more.
Keep your PC clean
The best way to deal with malware is to make sure that you don’t even get any. Always have your antivirus running, and perform scans like this from time to time, just to make sure that you are safe. If you don’t want to deal with subscriptions and premium versions of the antivirus, there are some free ones too. AVG, Comodo, Avast, or Panda are all more than decent and completely free to use.
Additionally, use a VPN, since they provide you with a pretty strong protection online. They are more than capable of stopping viruses and other malware. Also, they will keep you secure and anonymous online, which also means blocking spies. The best ones for this are TorGuard, IPVanish, PIA, and GhostVPN.
These are all premium providers, but when it comes to VPNs, using free ones is not the same as using a free antivirus. Free VPNs are often faulty and they can never keep you as safe as premiums can.
When you are sure that you are malware-free, check your accounts. This includes emails, banks, social networks, and everything else that you hold dear. It is even a good idea to change your passwords on all of them if you want extra safety.
Scan your backup for malware as well, since you can never know for sure that you are safe. It is best to check and know that you have got them all at once. If even one of them escapes to safety and return later, it can potentially download the rest of them again.
Lastly, keep your software up to date, and check for new updates whenever you can. Don’t postpone them unless you really have no other choice. If you forget to do them later, you might end up with an outdated version of the system. Those versions are always vulnerable to newer malware, so don’t take that risk.
Catching a malware is surprisingly easy, and you shouldn’t think that you are safe only because you don’t feel consequences immediately. They often work in the background where they collect data or corrupt the system. Very few of them will announce their presence with a horn.
That is why you should remain vigilant, and always check whenever you get the chance. Use one of the antimalware programs that we have mentioned earlier. And, of course, it is always best to make sure that you don’t get one at all by taking precautions.