How to Remove/Fix Malware From Your Windows PC

You might experience slow performance, more pop-ups, and generally strange behavior when your PC is infected with malware such as spyware, viruses, or some other invasive software program. This can happen even if you have an antivirus program installed.

Here is a step-by-step guide for checking out if it's malware:

1. Go Into Safe Mode

Malware removal begins in Safe Mode. Before you do anything, first disconnect your computer from the internet and don’t reconnect until you are ready to get your machine clean. This helps prevent any existing malware from spreading.

When in Safe Mode, only the programs and services that are completely necessary will load when Windows starts. Once you enter this mode, any malware won’t load. This is important because it allows the files to be removed much easier when they are not active and running.

Microsoft made the process of going into Safe Mode very easy in Windows 7 and Windows 8, but in Windows 10, it’s much more difficult. In Windows 10, to go into Safe Mode, select the "Power" button as you might when rebooting the computer, but don’t yet click it. Instead, hold down the "Shift" key and click on "Reboot". A full-screen menu appears, and you should click "Troubleshooting," "Advanced Options," and then "Startup Settings". A new window appears, click "Restart," and another new screen should appear.

This screen has a menu with several startup options. The fourth option is Safe Mode. If you want to connect to any online scanners during this process you should choose the fifth option, Safe Mode with Networking.

Many people notice their PCs run faster when in Safe Mode. If yours does, it might indicate your system is, indeed, infected with malware. It could also mean you have a lot of programs that are not malware starting up when Windows starts.

2. Delete Your Temporary Files

Once you are safely in Safe Mode, scan your computer for viruses. However, before you do that, make sure to delete your temporary files using the Disk Cleanup program. This helps the virus scanning process go faster, it frees up space on your drive, and might even get rid of malware. In Windows 10, you can type “Disk Cleanup” into the search bar. Or press "Start" and then select “Disk Cleanup.”

Computers enhace our lives, but also introduced things we now have to deal with such as viruses, malware, computer worms, Trojans, etc.

3. Use a Good Antivirus Program

If you already have an antivirus program installed on your machine and it gets infected, it’s likely the software you are using is unreliable. Uninstall it and invest in a new program. You can buy it online through a secure download and it's best to get the paid version instead of the free version. This gives you access to all of the features. Some physical programs are still available for purchase to install on one computer if downloading causes you discomfort. Some of the recommended antivirus programs include McAfee Antivirus, Avast, AVG, Webroot, Norton Security, BitDefender, and Kaspersky Anti-Virus.

4. Scan Your Machine

To check if your machine has any malicious programs, make sure to do a full scan with your new antivirus software. Also, make sure your antivirus software is fully updated before doing this scan. The process could take many hours depending on the size of your drive and the number of files on your computer. When the scan is complete, you will know just what you are dealing with.

5. Remove All the Malware

Once you know what types of malware are on your computer, your antivirus software will prompt you on how to fix the problem. These programs have different ways to do this, but the most common is a permanent deletion of the malware or storing it in a secure area, called quarantine, which stops it from doing further harm.

6. Stop More Infections

It’s possible these malware programs can damage your system files or other Windows settings. One common trait of malware is to modify your browser's home page, which could re-infect your computer when you reopen the browser.

Before launching your browser, check the connection settings and home page. To do this with Internet Explorer, click the "Start" button in Windows 10 and choose "Control Panel," and then "Internet Options." Look for the Home Page settings in the tab labeled "General," and verify it’s not a URL for a strange website. If it is, re-enter the URL for the home page you normally use. Firefox, Chrome, or Edge users should go to the settings window of the browser to look for the home page setting.

Prevention is always better than curing computer viruses. Do your best to protect your machine moving forward by taking the following steps:

  • Perform regular scans for viruses. Most antivirus software allows you to automatically schedule these scans based on your preferences. They can do it daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.
  • Don’t open any suspicious-looking emails. These might be infected with malicious programs.
  • Only go to websites that are secure. URLs use https://, not http://.
  • Download and use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN can help you remain safe from viruses because it encrypts your online connection. This means hackers cannot inject malware into your system through your internet connection.

    If you want a full and complete internet and computer security setup, pair your antivirus software with a VPN. A VPN uses some of the toughest security protocols on the market to ensure hackers cannot access your device.