It doesn’t matter how good your security software is, you’re never 100% protected against the risk of infection from viruses, spyware and other malicious software (known as malware ). If you think your PC might be infected, what can you do to diagnose the problem and, more importantly, repair the damage?
Dealing with malware involves four basic steps:
- Identify the threat
- Remove it
- Verify that all traces have been removed
- Repair the damage.
You can often sort the problem out yourself. If you follow the steps below, you should be able to spot the potential warning signs and deal with them as they crop up.
If all else fails, you might have to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows, but that should be the last resort. Before going down that route, try our in-store KnowHow Virus & Spyware Removal service which is available at selected branches of PC World and Currys.
1. Block the infection
In most cases, your security tool should let you know about a malware problem and block it before it gets into your system.
2. Spot the signs: website issues
Security tools aren’t totally failsafe and occasionally they can be fooled, which means infections can take hold. Whilst the following aren’t proof of an infection, they’re all warning signs.
You should be suspicious if Windows Update can’t check for new updates. You may also notice that certain websites (particularly sites related to security software and Microsoft) stop working or redirect to other sites promoting a security product you’ve never heard of.
3. Spot the signs: security problems
There could also be a problem if you can’t open your security tool, or it opens but you can’t update it or run scans with it. You may also see unfamiliar pop-up messages warning you that your PC is infected and asking you to pay for a program or download another to ‘fix’ the problem.
Be warned: the program is part of the infection and definitely not the cure.
4. Spot the signs: access denied
You may find yourself locked out of parts of your PC, with Access Denied messages appearing when you try to launch certain system tools. You can test this by pressing the [Win] + [R] keys to open the Run dialogue box, then type ‘regedit’ and press [Enter] to try and access Registry Editor.
5. Get a second opinion
If you’re convinced you’ve been infected but your security tool scans are coming up clean, get a second opinion. You will need to have installed Malwarebytes Anti-Malware . Run a scan with that to see if it finds anything. Again, if it won’t run or update, chances are you’ve been infected.
6. Scan, clean, restart, scan again
If your security tool does find an infection, follow the instructions to clean it up. Once complete, you may or may not be prompted to restart your computer. Restart it anyway, then run a full scan again to check the infection has gone.
7. Try Safe Mode
If an infection keeps returning (or you can’t open your security tool in Windows), try restarting Windows in Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a cut-down version of Windows where most – but not all – infections can’t run, making them easier to bypass and remove.
To access Safe Mode, restart your Advent PC, tapping the [F8] key before the Windows logo appears (to access the Advanced Boot Menu), as shown above. Use the arrow keys to select Safe Mode with Networking, then press [Enter].
8. Make Safe Mode bigger
If you find the Safe Mode screen cramped, right-click an empty part of the desktop and choose Screen Resolution. Click the Resolution dropdown menu and set the slider to its maximum (typically 1024 x 768) and click OK, followed by Keep Changes, to increase the size of the screen.
9. Scan, clean, restart, etc.
Manually launch your security tool – it should launch even if you had trouble in Windows itself. Perform a full update, then scan for and remove any infections, as before. Once complete, run a scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (if it’s installed on your computer) and let it update and remove any infections it finds. Once complete, restart your computer in normal Windows mode, then scan again with both tools to make sure the infection has been removed.
10. Use a rescue disc
If Safe Mode doesn’t load or the infection remains, you’ll need to use your security software rescue CD or DVD . If you haven’t created one, do it on another, clean, computer. Norton users should download the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool – you’ll need your product key to use it – while similar products also exist for Kaspersky and AVG. If you use a different product, check the software website, or use the free Kaspersky or AVG tools.
11. Post-infection blues
A lot of malware infections don’t give up without a fight and they often leave a horrible mess behind. If your PC isn’t working as it should, even after the infection has gone, download Virus Effect Remover, clicking the green Download button. Once downloaded, double-click the file and follow the prompts to install it, then launch the program.
12. Using Virus Effect Remover
To regain access to automatic Windows updates and key system tools like Registry Editor (Regedit), click the One Click Registry Heal button, which should be enough to give you access to key parts of your system. Other parts of the program are for advanced users only and we don’t recommend you use them.