Before you toss out that PC that’s playing up or delegate it as your new official boat anchor, if it’s infected by computer viruses or malware, there’s a simple process you can do that 9 times out of 10 will fix it for free!
With the likes of Ebola, there’s a process professionals follow that goes something like this: Diagnose, Isolation, Treatment, Eradication, and finally if you’re in the US or some other third world county; pay a crippling hospital bill. (Which ironically has the effect of making you sicker and more destitute, but I digress.)
With the digital viruses and such wreaking havoc on your computer, that same process can be applied here. (Without the crippling cost!)
Like in the world of medicine, we’ve first got to diagnose the problem. Perhaps you’ve noticed some of the symptoms outlined in last week’s blog. How do you know if your PC is sick or just MBM? (Mucked-up By Microsoft)? We have to run real* and preferably free antivirus and malware scanners and see what happens. Hopefully it’ll work, scan the PC and remove any viruses or malware. You’re done and dusted, life goes on and you can be smug that you’ve fixed your PC for nix.
*What’s a real anti-pest program though? By real I mean one that actually works the way it should, detecting the infection and removing it. Having hundreds of PCs pass through here over the years, I currently recommend Avast or AVG as an antivirus solution; they have free versions which are awesome. On the malware front, try Malwarebytes, which at least for the first few scans is free. Maybe you’ve got something else installed already, here’s a very quick and opinionated review: Kaspersky is great but costs you. Nortons works but tends to slow down your PC too much. PC-Cillian and Windows Defender (which comes with later versions of Windows) are okay but McAfee is rubbish. (With the latter you might be better off installing a virus! – Okay I exaggerate; guess it’s pretty obvious I don’t like McAfee)
Unfortunately if you’ve caught the infection too late you might not be able to even download or install something like Avast. Your operating system (Windows) might actually be broken.
What to Do When the Operating System is Broken
Clearly you’ve got to ‘unbreak’ the operating system first, but how? Try restoring the PC to a previous state. There’s a number of ways to do this and it’s too involved to bore you with here, but a couple of options in this order are system restore (to a previously set restore point), a reset (in Windows 8), a restore to factory default (if possible) or a complete operating system reinstall; which is a definite ‘don’t-try-this-at-home’ scenario unless you’re at least semi-confident. Try pushing F11 when the system boots up; depending on what flavour and brand you have, you might be lucky enough to see some of the other options mentioned. Just follow the prompts after reading EVERYTHING first.
As soon as you’ve successfully achieved one of the options above, you need to download, install and run the antivirus and malware programs of your choice. Don’t assume a reset will kill such pests, usually it won’t but just temporarily fix your operating system. (To illustrate: Think of a spray tire inflator product; it’ll pump your tire up for now, but you better get the puncture fixed too. Effectively that’s what you’re doing here.)
By the way if your antivirus program even hints that it can do a boot scan for you, embrace it with open arms and say ‘yes please’! Trust me you need this. If you have an antivirus program that says ‘uh… boot scan; what is that?’ – Get another antivirus program!
With all of these options it’s enviable you’ll loose something, likely your patience and at least some of your personal files. It’s the only way to cut the gangrene out though, so put it to experience and revise your internet browsing and downloading habits in the future. There’s a helpful earlier blog you might have missed which gives some tips. .
What Not to Do Straight After Eradication
So you’ve killed the virus, harpooned the adware and mulched the malware, don’t now put it all back on your system inadvertently. This is easily done by reinstalling any software, or files you might have on some other drive (or online) without first scanning them for the nasties you just killed. Always scan for these pests prior to loading anything new onto your PC.
I’ve tied outlining the basic steps to DIY pest removal above. I would have liked to provide you with more info but at the risk of inducing a brain hemorrhage or sending some of you off into a comatose state; I’ve exercised some self control. In summary though, get a decent antivirus and malware scanner, and keep the system clean by checking what goes on it BEFORE you run or copy it.