How to Properly Scan Your Computer for Malware?
Scanning your machine thoroughly and correctly for viruses and other malware such as Trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, worms, and other threats is a common troubleshooting measure. A “basic” virus scan is no longer sufficient.
Many types of malware trigger or disguise themselves as seemingly unrelated Windows and PC issues such as Blue Screens of Death, DLL file issues, crashes, irregular hard drive behavior, unfamiliar screens or pop-ups, and other severe Windows issues, so it’s critical to thoroughly scan your computer for malware before attempting to resolve any issues.
If you’re having trouble logging into your machine, look for support at the bottom of this page.
These are general malware scanning and removal measures that should work on Windows 10, Windows 8 (including Windows 8.1), Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
How to Scan Your Computer for Viruses, Trojans, and Other Malware?
Scanning your computer for viruses and other malware is easy, but it can take several minutes or longer. The longer the scan will take, the more files you have and the slower your machine is.
Is it necessary to make a backup of your files before running a virus scan? For more details, see the section at the bottom of this article.
Run the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool after downloading it. Depending on whether you’re running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows (find out which one you have), you can choose between two versions:
This free malware removal tool from Microsoft won’t find anything, but it will scan for unique, “prevalent malware,” which is a good start.
The Malicious Software Removal Tool can already be installed on your computer. If that’s the case, make sure it’s up to date through Windows Update so it can search for new malware.
Delete temporary files to save the anti-malware software from having to search through all of that useless data. Although it isn’t normal, if the virus is being stored in a temporary folder, doing so will actually delete the virus before the scan begins.
Your computer’s antivirus/antimalware program should be updated.
Make sure the virus concepts are up to date before running a full malware/virus scan. These updates instruct your antivirus program on how to locate and uninstall the most recent viruses from your device.
Updates to definitions are normally done automatically, but not always. Some malware can even infect you explicitly because of this feature! To begin the check-and-update process for your antivirus software, look for an Update button or menu object.
You don’t have a virus remover on your computer?
Now is the time to get one!
There are many free antivirus programs available, such as AVG and Avira Free Security, as well as those that can be tried out for free, so there’s no reason for not installing one. On that note, limit yourself to only one. Running several antivirus programs at the same time can seem to be a good idea, but it almost always results in problems and should be avoided.
Run a full virus scan through your entire device.
If you have another non-persistent (not always running) antimalware program installed, such as SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes, run it after this.
SUPERAntiSpyware is a powerful anti-spyware program.
Don’t just run the default fast machine scan, which could miss a lot of important parts of your computer. Make sure you’re checking every inch of your computer’s hard drive and other connected storage devices.
Make sure that any virus scans include the master boot log, boot field, and any applications that are currently running in memory. These are especially vulnerable areas of your computer where the most dangerous malware can hide.
Can’t Sign in to Your Computer to Run a Scan?
It’s likely that your machine has been corrupted to the point where you can’t access the operating system. These are the more dangerous viruses that prevent the operating system from starting, but don’t worry; you still have a couple of choices for getting rid of the infection.
If you’re using Windows, you should try booting into Safe Mode because certain viruses are loaded into memory when the device first starts up. That should avoid any threats from loading when you first log in, allowing you to proceed with the steps above to remove the viruses.
If you haven’t yet downloaded the tool from Step 1 or don’t have any antivirus performances enabled, start Windows in Safe Mode with Networking. To retrieve files from the internet, you’ll need networking access.
When you don’t have access to Windows, you can use a free bootable antivirus application to search for viruses. These are applications that can scan a hard drive for viruses without having to start the operating system. They run from portable devices such as discs or flash drives.
More Virus & Malware Scanning Help
If you’ve already screened your machine for viruses but think it’s still infected, try a free on-demand virus scanner. When you’re pretty sure your machine still has an infection but your installed antivirus software didn’t catch it, these tools are a great next move. Malwarebytes is a malware removal tool.
Another approach you can take is to run an online virus scan using software like VirusTotal or Metadefender, at least if you know what file(s) may be infected. This is less likely to be the solution, but it’s worth a shot as a last resort because it’s free and simple to implement. VirusTotal is a website that scans your computer for viruses.
If the virus still won’t go away despite our efforts, try disconnecting from the internet so the malware can’t interact with a remote server and infect your machine further. If you do this, make sure to first download and update everything relevant to the antivirus software, and then just disconnect for the duration of the virus scan.
Are you unsure whether to quarantine, delete, or clean the virus? For more details on what those words mean, click on the link. If a “virus” is simply a harmless false alarm, you will come to regret permanently deleting it.
You may have the option of wiping the entire hard drive and starting over with a new operating system, but this can only be done if you are unable to delete the virus from your device. Wiping the hard drive clean would, obviously, delete all of your files. It is, however, a reliable method of removing viruses that do not appear to be cleaned by antivirus software.
Should You Back Up Before Running Virus Scans?
Backing up your machine before a scan might seem like a good idea. You don’t want your sensitive papers, videos, photographs, and other files to be deleted along with the viruses, after all.
While backing up before a virus scan can be beneficial, be cautious about what you back up. The last thing you want is to save all of your data files in a backup and then delete the viruses, just for them to reappear when you recover!
Unfortunately, you won’t know what’s secure to back up and what’s better left on your machine for the malware scan until you know exactly what’s infected.
You can ensure that the most valuable files are backed up by copying them to an external hard drive or backing them up online while leaving the rest of your files where they are. In any case, a virus scan alone is unlikely to corrupt your files.
Another approach is to make a backup of everything you want and then run a virus scan on your computer. If something is discovered, make a note of can files are compromised and then uninstall or search the backed up files as well to ensure that the risks have been removed from both the originals and backups.