Monday, December 29, 2008

Virus removal

Because so many people use a Microsoft Windows operating system, most viruses and other malicious software ("malware") are targeted for Windows users.

So, because of the large number of viruses out there targeting Windows, it could happen that you get a virus.

Three reasons

There are three primary reasons (in order) you could get a virus:
  1. Bad computer habits
  2. Missing or outdated security applications
  3. Bad luck
Not much can be done about the bad luck. However, many will blame bad luck first. But, if you haven't taken care of the first two, bad luck isn't the reason. Bad decisions would be more likely.

I've written about the bad habits and the security applications. You need to understand the importance of those.

If you don't think they're important, you're wrong. And that's experience talking.

I've had bad computer habits. Cutting down on those has helped. It's called learning from experience.

I've run without (or with outdated) security applications. I learned my lesson. It's called learning from experience.

I've also encountered bad luck. It happens. But if you haven't corrected bad computer habits or aren't running up-to-date security software, bad luck's the least of your problems.

Shut up and help

Alight, let's assume you have a virus on your Windows computer. If it's because of bad habits, or because of lack of security protection software, or because of bad luck, you're in the same situation: You have a problem and need to fix it.


First, you need to use an anti-virus software package to clean things up. Or try to, anyway.

I have had success with the AVG and with the Avast! packages. Get one of those.


If you can connect to the Internet, you can download AVG or Avast! by clicking on either link.

But sometimes, the virus will intercept your attempts to go to one of those pages and redirect you somewhere else. AntiVirus 2009 Pro (not to be confused with legitimate packages like the similarly-named Panda package) is one that does this.

If you can't access the Websites, you need to go to a safe, protected computer, take a USB key ("flash drive"), and download a package. If you must use another computer, go ahead and download both to the flash drive. You may need them both.

Attempt to install one of the packages on the infected computer. If one fails, try the other. I have always had success with one or the other; however you may find neither works. If that's the case, try other packages on this list. I've not used them all, so I can't speak to all of them.

Once you've installed and run the antivirus package, have it clean or remove everything it finds. This may take a while. This may take hours. Do it anyway.

Once you've cleaned the computer, you're not done. Scan it again. Then, if everything is still clean, you're still not done.

There's more?

Reboot your computer. Then, scan it again. Yes, I said scan it again.

You see, some viruses can reconstitute themselves after a reboot.

Keep scanning and cleaning and rebooting until everything is gone. If you find you're stuck in a loop -- the same virus keeps being removed but keeps coming back -- try another antivirus package (Avast! or AVG).

Eventually, one should do the job.

Next, you need to keep your computer safe. Microsoft actually has a good summary of things to do here.

They'll try to sell you their security package, Microsoft Live OneCare. It's a good package. But keep in mind what you just used to clean your computer. You may want to consider giving that application the job full-time. And, you may want to buy their full suite of protections software as a reward for a job well done.

The final step

The last thing you can do is prevent problems in the future. You can help by following the suggestions here.

The best way to get a virus off your computer is to not let it on to start with.


  1. Great post. Definitely a need for many people and a reminder for others (like me!). Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

  2. I purchased AVG on the recommendation of the ITs at the ISP I use and have been very pleased with it. Beats the heck outta the Norton package I used to use. It would interfere with all sorts of other programs and caused all sort of issues. IMHO, AVG is far superior.


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