Back to Computer Help


How To Remove A Virus From A Computer


One of the worst problems new computer users (and even experienced ones) face from time to time is infection with a virus. Typically a virus will either deny you access to your machine, corrupt the data on your computer, or just slow down the machine. Either way, a breach of security is not to be taken lightly. Most of the time when a computer is infected with a virus, it is best to save what data you can and perform a complete reinstall of Windows. However, this is not always possible or desirable.

It is for these times that I am preparing this guide for you, to assist you in trying to remove a virus from your machine. Please note that I say "try" because it is not always possible to remove a virus.

Once again I must say that you use the information I provide here at your own risk. Before trying any of the following suggestions you should try to back up your data if at all possible.

If the computer can still start up and access the internet, you should try to perform an online virus scan. An online virus scan is when you have a site check your computer over the internet for infection. Often these scans can tell you if your machine is indeed infected, what the name of the infection is, and how to remove it. Here is a list of links to some online virus scans that I have found useful in the past.

Trend Micro House Call

Symantec Security Check

PC Pitstop

Not only do these sites do the job, but they are also FREE.

If your computer is not capable of starting Windows, not all is lost. There are still things we can try. The next method involves using a boot cd. A boot cd is a disc you create that the computer starts off of. This allows you to run programs outside the Windows environment (for example, virus scanners!). One of the best tools I have found for this job is the Ultimate Boot CD. It is available as a free download at the following link.

Ultimate Boot CD

They do accept donations for their work and I recommend giving them a little something if you do choose to use this. To use the boot cd you have to have your computer set to start off of a cd drive. This is done through a computer's BIOS. I won't go into how to adjust this here as it is outside the scope of this document, but lets just keep in mind that most computers, by default, are set to check for a bootable cd.

Once you have your boot cd prepared, you just insert it into your CD-Rom drive and reboot your computer. Using the tools on the Ultimate Boot CD you may be able to recover your machine.

Things To Note ************************

If you are successful in removing a virus from your machine, the first thing you should do is back up your data! Even if you can remove the virus, I would almost ALWAYS recommend a total reinstall of your Windows Operating System. This, in my opinion, is the only true way to know you have eliminated the threat. In the Army, any time a computer is infected we are required to reformat the machine.

Hopefully this article will give you some insight into what you can do to try to recover a machine that has become infected. Just remember that when dealing with computer viruses, the best defense is a good offense. Keep a recent antivirus program on your computer, and make sure it is up to date. Be sure to download Windows Updates. And read my article on Basic Computer Security to become a better computer user.