If you searched for the question "How to remove a virus from your computer?," you are in the right place. This
article will describe to you what a computer virus is, options you have for removing the infection, as well as provide
you with a brief tutorial to remove the malware.
The word ‘malware’ originates from the terms malicious and software, and that is what a computer virus is⸺a malicious
piece of software. Often, when an infection enters a system, it can either replicate itself, such as with a ‘worm’ which
will create a copy and then spread to other computers, or the virus can be a standalone piece of code. In all instances,
however, malware infringes on a user’s privacy and it can also wreak havoc to the system as well as steal personal
credentials like banking information and other sensitive information. So, how does a computer virus work and how do you
get an infection on your system to begin with? Well, to begin with the latter, there are many different ways you might
encounter a virus.
Visiting unsecure websites (always check for HTTPS, which means a secured connection), is one way. Downloading
untrusted files can also lead to a malware infection. A third common way that a virus can enter a computer system is
through email, and in particular, what is known as ‘phishing’. Phishing involves a malicious actor sending an email to a
recipient, that at face value, looks to be authentic, but in reality, when the end user clicks on or opens the email or
attachment in the email, the infection enters the system (SWGfL, n.d.).
A computer virus works by code execution, just as with any other type of program that is run on a system. Malware, once
it becomes activated, will lead to devastation in more ways than one, and therefore, it is necessary to remain mindful
and proactive in preventing a computer infection.
There are varying symptoms that will appear if you have a computer virus. One of the first things that you will likely
notice is a slowdown in performance. This means sluggishness, and even unresponsiveness, which can lead to complete
freezing of the computer, requiring a hard reset. A hard reset will be needed because some viruses will prevent the
Shutdown procedure from initializing (Hebert et al., 2022). Other issues you will notice include:
- Emails sent by you in your 'Sent' folder, that were not emails sent by you.
- Sudden system crashing (Hebert et al., 2022).
If you do not have a separate paid subscription to an additional antivirus program or
suite, and you want to use an additional program other than Windows' integrated
Windows Defender, there are a range of free programs for computer virus removal.
You can opt to use Windows Defender to remove malware/viruses from your PC, or you can
choose a freeware program to remove computer viruses.
Windows Defender is a free integrated program utility that Windows offers with its Windows
operating system. To use Windows Defender to scan and remove computer viruses, you
can follow these steps:
Please note that the Windows Defender scan will take approximately 15 minutes,
followed by your computer restarting. Windows Defender will automatically
quarantine and remove malware it finds. Ensure not to interrupt the scan during this
time (Microsoft, n.d.).
Following the restart of your computer, you can now view the results of the scan. To
do this, perform the following steps:
If you prefer to use freeware for removing computer viruses, there are a range of programs
available. You can browse the website Best Free Antivirus Software through Security.org to
determine which computer virus removal program is best for you. Once you locate the
program you want to use, simply download the program and double-click on the .exe file to
install it on your computer.
The steps involved with the program you choose will vary, though the program will walk you
through scanning, quarantining, and deleting malware. The virus removal software will notify
you of any threats and will then provide recommendations to you on what you should do:
this will include quarantining or deleting the threat (GCFGlobal.org, n.d.). Whichever
program you choose, the commonality is that the program will use behavior-based
scanning, on-demand scanning, will include a firewall, and offer 100% free virus detection
(Vigderman & Turner, 2022).
Prevention is always preferable to reaction, and this especially applies to computer safety.
With that said, there are different ways to prevent computer viruses. Aside from the obvious,
involving the installation of an antivirus program, and/or the use of Windows Defender (if
using a separate virus removal program, Windows Defender will automatically turn off
(Microsoft Support, n.d.-b)), there are some steps that you, as the end-user, can take when
considering precautions. These steps include:
GCFGlobal.org. (n.d.). Internet safety: What to do if your computer gets a virus.
Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/internetsafety/what-to-do-
Hebert, A., Hernandez, A., Perkins, R., & Puig, A. (2022, February 9). How to
recognize, remove, and avoid malware. Consumer Advice. Retrieved April 7, 2023,
Microsoft. (n.d.). Remove malware from your Windows PC. Microsoft Support.
Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/remove-
Microsoft Support (n.d.-a). Prevent changes to security settings with Tamper
Protection. Retrieved May 14, 2023, from https://support.microsoft.com/en-
Microsoft Support (n.d.-b). Protect my PC from viruses. Retrieved May 14, 2023, from
SWGfL. (n.d.). What is a computer virus? Security. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from
Vigderman, A., & Turner, G. (2022, October 19). The best free antivirus software in
2023. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from https://www.security.org/antivirus/best/free/