Is your PC running slower than usual or are you getting lots of unwanted pop-ups? If so, your computer may be infected with Malware.
Short for “malicious software,” Malware refers to software programs designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on your computer system. Common examples of Malware include viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware. In particular, Spyware can gather data from your PC without you even knowing it. This can include anything from the web pages you visit to personal information, such as credit or debit card numbers.
Although other problems such as hardware issues can produce very similar symptoms, it’s best to check for Malware if your computer is beginning to act strangely.
First Download Malware Scanners
Fortunately, running a Malware scanner is enough to remove most standard infections. If you already have an antivirus program active on your computer, you should use a different scanner for this malware check, since your current antivirus software may not have detected the malware. Remember, no antivirus program can detect 100% of the millions of malware types and variants.
There are two types of antivirus programs.
1. Real-time antivirus programs, which run in the background and constantly watch for Malware.
2. On-demand scanners, which search for Malware infections when you open the program manually and run a scan.
You should have only one real-time antivirus program installed at a time, but you can have many on-demand scanners installed which ensures that if one program misses something a different one might well find it.
If you think your PC is infected download an on-demand scanner first and then follow up with a full scan by your real-time antivirus program. (Among the free, and high-quality, on-demand scanners available are BitDefender Free Edition, Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, Malwarebytes and Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool)
Enter Windows Safe Mode before you run these programmes
If you think your PC may have a Malware infection, boot your PC into Microsoft’s Safe Mode. In this mode, only the minimum required programs and services are loaded so if any Malware is set to load automatically when Windows starts, entering Safe Mode may prevent it from doing so. This is important because it allows any malicious malware files to be removed easier, since they are not actually running or active.
To boot into Windows 10 Safe Mode, first click the Start Button and then select the power button as if you were going to reboot, but don’t click anything just yet. Now hold down the Shift key and click Reboot. When the full-screen menu appears, select Troubleshooting, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings. On the next window click the Restart button and wait for the next screen to appear. Next you will see a menu with numbered startup options; select number 4, which is Safe Mode.
You may find that your computer runs noticeably faster in Safe Mode. This could be a sign that your system has a Malware infection, or it could mean that you have a large number of legitimate programs that normally start up alongside Windows.
Delete all your Temporary files
Now that you are in Safe Mode, you should run a virus scan. But before you do that, delete your temporary files. Doing this may speed up the virus scanning, free up disk space, and even get rid of some Malware. To use the Disk Cleanup utility included with Windows 10 just type Disk Cleanup in the search bar or after pressing the Start button and select the tool that appears named Disk Cleanup. Select the drive you want to clean (probably your C Drive) and then click OK. In the list that appears select Temporary files and then click OK. Disk Cleanup will ask you if you want to permanently delete these files, so click Delete Files.
Once you have run one or two on demand antivirus programs and your real-time antivirus program try running a scan with Malwarebytes.
Run the setup file for Malwarebytes and follow the instructions to install the program. Once the program opens, it will automatically activate a trial of the paid version that enables real-time scanning. You will not get charged after the trial ends, as the program reverts to the standard free version in 14 days. In the meanwhile, you can disable the real-time scanning for those two weeks if you prefer.
To run a scan, switch from the Dashboard tab to the Scan tab. Keep the default scan option (Threat Scan) selected and click the Start Scan button. It should check for updates before it runs the scan, but make sure that happens before you proceed. Depending on the speed of your computer, a Threat Scan can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. While Malwarebytes is scanning, you can see how many files or objects the software has already scanned, and how many of those files it has identified either as being Malware or as being infected by Malware.
Once the scan is complete, Malwarebytes will show you the results. If the software gives your system a clean bill of health but you still think that your system has acquired some malware, consider running a Custom Scan with Malwarebytes and trying the other scanners mentioned earlier in this email. If Malwarebytes does find infections, it will show you what they are when the scan is complete. Click the Remove Selected button in the lower left to get rid of the specified infections. Malwarebytes may also prompt you to restart your PC in order to complete the removal process, which you should do.
Even if the Malware appears to be gone, run a full scan with your real-time antivirus program to confirm that result.
Fortunately, running a Malware scanner in Safe Mode is enough to remove most standard infections.
However, if Malwarebytes automatically disappears after it begins scanning and won’t reopen, you probably have a rootkit or other deep infection that automatically kills scanners to prevent them from removing it. With this scenario you might be better off reinstalling Windows 10 after backing up all your files. Copy all of your files to an external USB Drive or flash drive. If you check your email with a client program (such as Outlook or Windows Mail), make sure that you export your settings and messages to save them. You should also back up your device drivers with a utility such as Double Driver, in case you don’t have the driver discs anymore or don’t want to download them all again.
Once you have backed up everything, reinstall Windows either from the disc that came with your PC, by downloading the installation image from Microsoft, or by using your PC’s factory restore option, if it has one.
Remember, you cannot save installed programs. Instead, you’ll have to reinstall the programs from discs or re-download them.
Finally fix your web browser
Malware infections can damage Windows system files and other settings. One common malware trait is to modify your web browser’s homepage to reinfect the PC, display advertisements, prevent browsing, and generally annoy you. So before launching your web browser, check your homepage and connection.
For Internet Explorer right-click the Windows 10 Start button and select Control Panel, then Internet Options. Find the Home Page settings in the General tab, and verify that it’s not some site you know nothing about. For Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, simply go to the setttings window of your browser to check your homepage setting.
Keep your Windows 10 PC clean
Always make sure that you have a real-time antivirus program running on your PC, and make sure this program is always up-to-date. If you don’t want to spend money on yearly subscriptions, you can choose one of the many free programs that provide adequate protection, such as Avast, AVG, Panda, or Comodo. Also run Malwarebytes daily or weekly to check for Malware intrusions.
Keep Windows and other software up-to-date. Make sure that you have Windows Update turned on and enabled to download and install updates automatically.