Computer viruses are, unfortunately, a part of every computer user’s life these days. There are many ways one can come across a virus, such as opening a suspicious email attachment or visiting a questionable website. Regardless of the method of infection, if you are reading this, you now find yourself with the unenviable task of ridding your system of the pesky intruder.
First, I hope you have a backup of all your critical data files somewhere. There are distinct steps you can take to deal with this intruder or intruders into your system and each depends on the level of infection. Some will argue it may be best to “disconnect” from the internet while you are trying these steps to keep the vicious malware from “phoning home” or inviting more friends (i.e. viruses) to come to have their way with your PC. If, however, you are being attacked by a virus that is trying to encrypt your hard drive, otherwise known as ransomware, the act of disconnecting could trigger it to pop-up the ransom screen.
1. Try to disinfect using your AntiVirus software
Of course, one might wonder how the infectious party got past your antivirus solution to begin with. Sometimes it happens if the malware protection is out of date or just plain obsolete. It’s a good place to start, but there’s no guarantee it will completely remove the infection. Also, keep in mind that some malware/viruses will do their best to disable or make your antivirus software unusable.
2. Try a “system restore” to a point prior to infection
Windows system restore allows you to “rollback” your windows installation to a point where things were working well. Keep in mind this will uninstall software that was installed after the “restore point” as well. Open Start. Search for Create a restore point, and click the top result to open the System Properties page. Click the System Restore button and choose the restore point that is most likely virus free. Once the restore is complete, which usually involves a system reboot, check for any signs of infection. If you find none, you should still update your antivirus software immediately and run a full scan, just in case. Be aware some nasty viruses know about System Restore and they may try to block or disable it. If that is the case, move on to another option.
3. Restore a prior system backup to a point prior to infection
If the System Restore doesn’t work or has been disabled by the virus, this is your next best step. Each backup solution is a bit different, so you’ll need to read up on your full system restore option if it has one. Another option would be to choose a full windows reinstall and just restore your data files, but that is more time intensive.
4. When in doubt, and all else fails, it might be time for the nuclear option. Reinstall Windows.
I get it. These are some of the two worst words in the English language. No one wants to go thru the pain of wiping out their system and reinstalling windows, but sometimes it’s the most complete way to rid yourself of a virus that has its claws so deep into your system that nothing can obliterate all traces of it. In fact, many people do a full reinstallation of Windows every couple of years to return to a cleaner and faster install of the operating system. So, think of it this way. Perhaps you were overdue for a fresh start. By the way, you have a backup of your data files, right?
Once you find your way past this virus, do yourself a favor. Install a solid antivirus solution to keep this from happening again and steer clear of suspicious email with attachments and websites. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth hours of attempting to find a cure. Need more information? Feel free to contact us at PC Geeks.