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Free and Safe Virus Removal
Reason for Stopping by This Hub
Is Your Computer Infected?
Trojans, Worms, Viruses, Backdoors, Rootkits, Malware, Adware, Spyware...so many different ways to say "My computer isn't working!" Most of the time its easy to tell when you're computer is infected with something, but other times these little annoyances can be very stealthy...So, how can you know if your computer is infected? Here are some symptoms your computer might display (speaking from experience)
The no desktop: You start up your computer like normal, but instead of your normal desktop background, you may find a blue colored screen with a little message stating your computer is messed up. (NOT to be confused with the white background, ! in a triangle and a button to restore your background. This just requires a simple restart)
A Slow computer start up: The initial computer boot seems normal up to the log in screen (if you have one), but once the initial start up is done, often times it can take several minutes for everything else to finish loading
Slow loading/Internet connection: Once your computer has finally finished loading, you click the internet icon and wait...waiting.....waaaiiiiting........After a good 3 minutes the window finally shows up! punch in the address of the site you wish to visit and wait...waiting.....waaaiiiiting........
No internet connection: Aside from a slow internet connection, you might even be blocked from accessing the internet entirely! So you check your router, your cables, any other computers you might have hooked up, and everything seems to be working just fine, but you can't connect to the internet! What the heck, man?!
"Security" Scan pop-ups: I love these! Your computer loads and suddenly a little window pops up claiming to be Microsoft Security or some other security scanning program. It runs a "scan" in 45 seconds and blares at you "YOU HAVE 250 INFECTED FILES! CLICK HERE TO REMOVE NOW"
Search engine detours: You run a google search for concert tickets or whatever, and instead of pulling up the normal expected results, you get something completely off topic, and/or full of flashy "CLICK ME NOW" ads
Flashy pop-ups: Which may or may not include more claimed viral alerts. These can jump out at any time, usually I find them when browsing the web (like most others), but they can jump at random on any site. They are more often than not the usual "YOUR THE 1 MILLIONTH VISITOR! CLICK HERE FOR A FREE HIGH-TECH POPULAR GADGET!", or "CLICK HERE FOR SO MANY FREE GAMES!"
Random freezing: This may or may not be linked to viruses. Often times a virus can cause your computer to freeze up for no reason, often times freezing occurs during viral scans. However, not all computer freezing is linked to a virus: My computer had issues with freezing at all kinds of random periods. I paid out the nose for virus removals and scanning, but it just kept freezing. Upon further inspection and questioning those knowledgeable in the tech department, it turns out that my video card was going bad. Soon as I replaced it, I had no more problems
Hacked Accounts: Getting emails from yourself often, despite having changed passwords? Through multiple of your email addresses? Bank accounts getting hit with purchases you didn't make? Passwords changing on websites, or messages appearing that you didn't create? You possibly have a keylogger on your computer, though sometimes when it comes to email, it could be someone spoofing your account address, than they actually having hacked your account
These are the more common problems I've faced, but again, sometimes viruses can be silent stalkers. I had a nasty backdoor recently that gave me no notice of its existence. One way to check for possible silent infections would be to open your Add/Remove programs list and look through for any programs you don't recognize. I'd also recommend searching the Task List Processes by holding Ctrl+Alt+Del (But unless you KNOW what you're doing in these programs, it may be best to hold off, or consult Google regularly for tips/tutorials)
These are only some of the more noticeable symptoms. Just because you're computer is not displaying any of these, does NOT mean it isn't infected. It wouldn't hurt to run a few scans just in case (especially if you haven't scanned in a LONG time...)
Free and Safe Virus Removal Softwares
Alright, we've either determined if our computer has an infection or not. If we do have a problem, I have listed some of the free AND safe (not to mention effective!) virus removal softwares. Yes, they really do exist! There are a lot of false softwares, cop-offs, and others that require "payment' or a "subscription" in order to remove the problems. I have used all these programs listed below, and am happy to report they not only work, but they are effect, free, and safe for use on your own computer.
While I have listed the programs early, I would advise waiting until you've finished reading this hub, as I have left instructions on the most effective clean up, and future prevention further down
PRECAUTION: When searching and downloading these softwares, BE CAREFUL! There are a lot of fake and false advertisements and download links out there. Here are some tips to help determine the proper links and websites:
Flashy and/or animated "Download" buttons are more often than not sponsored links, and are often times the biggest, brightest buttons. A usually surefire way to verify a sponsor link from a non, is by looking around the Download link itself: More often than not, in tiny print you will see "sponsored site" or "sponsor ad" around the button. If no leads are found there, HOVER your mouse over the button, DO NOT CLICK IT! As you hover your mouse a little balloon bar will either show up beside your pointer, or at the bottom left/right of the web window giving you the buttons URL location. If the name in the URL doesn't look familiar to the page you are currently on, DO NOT PRESS IT.
Sometimes legit downloads aren't shown as buttons at all, but rather hyperlinks somewhere amid the body of text. Make sure you read everything thoroughly so you don't miss the right download, as ads often like to place themselves in the middle of text. You might have a list of instructions from 1-5, and between 2 and 3 you have a download option for something related to the topic, whereas the real download options are near the end of the article under their own title.
When searching for LEGIT freeware titles on Google or otherwise, URL's should end in .org or .net; however, some of the softwares have both a free, and purchasable version (like AVG), so these sites will not have .org or .net at the end of their URLs, rather "AVG.com". A home site also has a very brief address, like safer-networking.org; if there is anything else within the title, usually it isn't a legit site.
This product has both a free, and purchasable version. The Free version works fine, and really the only perks to the purchasable version are flash scans and other "convenient", but not necessary options.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot has a new version 2 released, though according to reviews, comes with a lot of bloatware and isn't worth the hassle. Towards the bottom of the page is a link for version 1.6. This version is still supported and just as effective
Microsoft Security Essentials
MSE Works with XP service Pack 3 or older. If you are as unfortunate as I was with only being able to run SP2, there is a rollup package you can install called "Filter Manager rollup package for Windows XP SP2"
This also has a purchasable full version, and a free trial for 14 days of the full purchasable version. The link above is for a the free, non-trial version. Much like Malwarebytes, the free version works just as fine, and the full version just has some nice additions if you need it constantly. (but with proper prevention, you shouldn't need a constant)
(AVG is also a very BIG program, and you may notice a slow in computer performance when you have it installed)
Setting Up the Softwares
IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ACCESS THE INTERNET ON YOUR INFECTED COMPUTER, CONTINUE READING FOR INSTRUCTIONS. IF YOU CAN ACCESS THE INTERNET, SKIP DOWN TO THE NEXT SECTION
I've had the trouble with not being able to access my internet to retrieve and/or update the software I needed to fix the problem. Fear not! All you'll need is a flash drive (proffered 1GB or higher, pretty standard for flash drives unless you have an older model) or some form of transferring files, a computer able to access the internet, and (possibly) an internet connection cable. You will need to download these files onto your flash drive or portable from a working internet connection source. Then start your infected computer in Safe Mode with Networking.
From this point, make sure your internet connection is working. Pull open a web browser and try to connect to the internet. if it doesn't connect and you are running a wireless, try plugging in the connection cable from the router to the back of your computer. If this still doesn't work, google some tutorials and see if you can find a way to connect. If you STILL can't connect, you may need to install the software on a different computer, update its database, and copy the updated files back to the infected computer. This will also require online tutorial searches, as it is much too complicated for me to post to this hub
Unfortunately, none of these are a "cure all", and I've yet to see a software that is. No, rather each specializes in its own area, and its the full army of all of them together that gives a full clean sweep. Once you have downloaded the .exe files of these various softwares, you will want to install and run them ONE AT A TIME. This is crucial. Why? For the sake of your already struggling computer, having more than one security software installed really takes up a lot of space and kills the computer's speed (AVG by itself can slow the speed of a computer). Needless to say, cleaning the computer can be a lengthy and tedious process, so you'll want to make sure you have plenty of time to devote when you begin.
First, we will install the programs regularly. Choose any one of the programs and launch the install process. Once it is installed, it should prompt you to update the database, which is a MUST. The files installed are basic stock when they were first released, and updates to the various viruses happen daily. Update your software, and then restart the computer in Safe Mode
NOTE: AVG does not seem to like Safe Mode. I would recommend installing this software last, and running its scan on regular start-up
Once you are in Safe Mode, access the scanning software of your choice, and begin a FULL SCAN. Depending on the condition of your computer and software installed, a full scan may take up to several hours (I had MSE full scanning for 17 hours)
Once one scan has finished, follow any prompts that may appear if its found any viruses to properly quarantine and rid them, otherwise uninstall it and begin the process again with the next software, until you have gone through all of them
Phew! Hopefully all that work paid off in the end. If not, it is possible you just have a slow computer due to a junky registry. Eitherway, its always a good idea to a defragger. Piriform is a trusted company, and I've heard good things about its Defraggler
Free, lightweight, and effective. Run this guy after scanning, and even once a month or so to keep your computer from getting bogged down with excessive files.
After installing, Defraggler will give you a list of checkbox options. Do NOT leave the box marked "Replace Windows Defragger" checked. Its not going to hurt the system to have them both, but it could cause complications if you remove it
I can't tell you how many times I'd pay to get my computer cleaned off after a nasty virus attack, only to have another hit 3 months later. Just what can cause viruses to latch themselves onto a computer? While there are several different ways, most of which easily avoidable (such as phisy websites/downloads and clicking flashy ads), browsing the Internet in general can often lead to viruses (and often "free" sites host a lot of sponsor ads that will download bugs just for being on the page). Here are some helpful resources to help prevent another virus attack:
Firewalls: Most computers should come standard with a firewall, or even most security softwares. MSE, AVG, and Spybot all have some sort of internet security that can be installed/activated. Avast is also a free and effective firewall. However, just as with the virus scanners, there is no "prevent all" with firewalls. You can certainly limit what comes through, but it can't stop everything, especially when it comes to opening phishy sites
NoScript with Firefox: NoScript is a little plug-in for Firefox. This is what I use, and am happy to report I've been bug free while browsing the internet (Downloading is another story). NoScript can be a little tricky and tedious, as it will default block any and all internet scripts once installed. You can go through the options and tell it which scripts to allow and which to forbid, though seeing as most internet pages have unique scripts required to run, you will find yourself allowing scripts every time you visit a new page. However, as this prevents random flying viruses from lodging themselves on my computer, I'd say its worth it
Common Sense: Honestly a lot of prevention is just common sense. Don't click untrusted download links, sites, or ads, no matter how enticing they are (most of them are just annoying and obvious). If you're getting emails from strange addresses that contain a one line address, don't click it! "Just say 'No!'"