Monday, March 21, 2011

I've got a virus - what do I do?

Please note: In this article, I use the term malware as an umbrella term that includes viruses, trojans, worms and adware. Also, I am only an amateur at IT but this article may help totally clueless people to deal with malware.

First of all, what makes you think you have a virus or trojan? Sometimes the warnings themselves are from dodgy popups or malware trying trying to install other malware. If it's your anti-virus program, then it should offer you some way to get rid of it. And if that doesn't work, then you should contact the anti-virus software manufacturer for assistance - often if you search on their website there are a list of steps of what to do to get rid of viruses.

I have a tiny bit of experience dealing with malware, having had two rather tricky viruses in 2010. Each took me about 15 hours to get rid of. In the end, I found that trying different anti-virus software did the trick. Some will have definitions (software that's designed to recognise and obliterate viruses) that the others don't have. There are so many new viruses coming out that the anti-virus companies can barely keep up. So anyway, if you are struggling, I recommend doing the following:

  1. Write down every problem you're experiencing because of the virus or trojan and note down the exact text of any error messages you are getting and everything that makes you think you have malware on your computer. Even better, screen capture it and save it in a Word document. To do this, press 'prtscn' on the keyboard, then press CTRL+V in a Word doc.
  2. Backup your important files (eg. documents, photos)
  3. Download Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes (both are free)
  4. Disconnect your computer from the Internet
  5. Uninstall the antivirus program you have which is failing to deal with the virus
  6. Install Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes
  7. Run a scan with both programs one after the other on your entire computer (this may take a while, eg. overnight)
  8. Restart the computer, reconnect the internet and see how you go

Contact me through if you want to.