Before I get started with this malicious software removal guide, I want to give you a small background about my experience as a computer technician.
I’ve been working in the industry for about 7 years now, starting with my first co-op placement at a local computer repair shop. This gave me the opportunity to work with many brands and models of both computers and laptops. Since 2010, I’ve repaired hundreds of dysfunctional systems – learning both the hardware and software side of things.
Dealing with an endless number of virus-infected computers is quite the norm for a computer tech. Over time, I’ve tested many different virus removal procedures and this one works best for me.
I’ve created this comprehensive malicious software removal guide for you so that you can learn how to remove malware manually and avoid having to spend a pretty penny taking it into a computer repair shop.
It’s always best to know the basics first. Like humans, computers also catch many different types of infections. Below are some definitions you should know.
Virus and Malware – What’s the Difference?
Computer Malware: Malware is the short form for “Malicious Software” and it’s going to be our primary topic in this post. It refers to any software that is intended to disable, prevent normal operations or cause damage to computer systems. Can be removed using anti-malware.
Computer Viruses: A type of malware that corrupts system data and does other harmful things to your computer. Viruses are usually activated when a user opens a malicious file. Can be removed using an anti-virus.
Other Malicious Infections:
Trojan Horse: A program that seems harmless but breaches your computer’s security. Can be removed using a trojan removal tool.
Rootkit: Software that enables an unauthorized user access/control of a computer system without being detected
Spyware: Software that is used to obtain personal information/computer’s activities of a computer by transmitting data from their hard drive
Worm: Malware that replicates itself to spread to other computers across the same network
How did I get infected in the first place?
There’s no telling exactly where you got any viruses from but these are the most common places:
- E-mail attachments
If an e-mail looks suspicious, don’t open it. Most likely it’ll contain a link to a download that will infect your computer.
- Malicious websites (adult, religious)
Adult and religious websites target a huge population so it’s a no-brainer for virus-creators to upload them into these kinds of sites.
Torrented files may not always turn out to be what you expected; especially since files can be renamed with different extensions. You never really know what you’re opening once the download is finished. If you’re pirating software, music or movies there’s a pretty good chance that it could contain a virus.
The truth about Anti-Viruses
There is no such thing as an anti-virus that will prevent you from ALL viruses and infections. It’s just that simple. Every infection is coded differently so it’s impossible for one program to protect a computer from everything . That’s why it’s crucial that you run multiple programs when conducting a virus-removal procedure.
You’re probably thinking “I’ll just install 5 different anti-viruses onto my computer.” Well it doesn’t work that way. You can only have one anti-virus on your computer at a time. Think of it this way: If there’s two teachers with different teaching styles teaching the same student at the same time, there’s bound to be conflicts. It’s the same concept with anti-viruses. They don’t like being paired with others.
Below I have a list of programs that I use. Usually running all of these programs will clear out any infections on your computer…. but not always. If your computer is still acting strange afterwards, I would recommend reinstalling Windows on your computer because the infections probably caused permanent damage to your operating system that can only be solved with a reinstall.
Malicious Software Removal Guide
Now that you have a good understanding of the different types of malware, I’ll tell you which programs I use and in which order I run them—it does matter. The download links are attached to the program icons. Only download the free versions of each program because you’re not required to spend a single penny in this virus removal guide.
Malwarebytes – I usually run this first 90% of the time for one reason… it’s no doubt, the most effective malware cleaner on the market today. It scans quicker than most other programs and if you have a heavily infected computer, this program will definitely get the ball rolling. When the anti-malware scanner is done its job, it’ll automatically place all of the malicious results into quarantine, where you can choose to get rid of malware on your computer for good. This is the first step in my malicious software removal procedure.
AdwCleaner – This program will remove all programs that are considered Adware. It’ll detect what programs are spam and automatically delete the folders/registry files linked to them. Running this program next will cleanup any adware, potentially unwanted programs and toolbars, speeding up the virus-removal process for the rest of the scans.
SuperAntiSpyware – Similar to AdwCleaner, it’ll remove spam programs and also and types of spyware, adware and trojans it finds. This program doesn’t take long to run but it’s extremely effective against unwanted spyware and other infections.
Combofix – A very powerful scanning tool that searches deeply within your computer to remove the most common and current malware. Unfortunately, it only works on Windows XP, Vista and 7 though. If you have a different operating system, you can skip this program.
ESET Online Scanner – One of the best anti-viruses available for free. I usually save this one towards the end because it has a huge database of known viruses and will initiate a thorough virus check online to ensure that most infections are gone. Performing scans on all the previous programs will also quicken the process for this scan. **make sure you download ESET Online Scanner and not Nod32**
Microsoft Security Essentials – This is the official Microsoft virus removal tool. It’s a powerful tool that scans for viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojan horses. It’s a very powerful tool that’s often underestimated. I run this as my last virus scan because it takes the longest. If you run all of the previous programs before this one, it shouldn’t find anything. I only use this scan as a precautionary scan to make sure things are cleaned up and nothing is left behind.
CCleaner – Although it doesn’t take care of any viruses, I like to run this program at the end of it all. It’ll remove any folders, files and registry keys that are leftover from the malicious software removal procedure. It’ll also clear any caches and temporary files that may be unnecessarily taking up room on your computer.
There you have it. After running all of these programs, you’re most likely to be virus-free!
If you still feel like there’s something wrong, you can try using some more of the best antivirus software for Windows PCs to see if it helps.
However, if that doesn’t solve it, chances are that the malicious software may have caused permanent damage to your system which can only be repaired through a reinstallation of Windows. If that’s the case, contact me and I’ll help you out.
We hope to have helped you learn how to remove malware from PC!
Great collection of information in an easy to read layout!