Computer virus refers to a malicious code designed to make a computing device as host and breeding ground for infecting other devices. It works like biological viral infection that causes a variety of problems. Windows is the most popular desktop operating system and more than 75% of the people use Windows based PC as per the statista report. The popularity brings many problems that hackers develop malware and viruses to steal data without user’s concern.
Microsoft offers a built-in Windows Security antivirus on Windows 10 to protect your PC. However, that is not sufficient to keep your PC in a healthy state. If you notice suspicious activities on your computer, first thing you need is to immediately cleanup the PC in order to prevent data loss. In this article, let us explore how to cleanup virus infection on Windows 10 PC using simple methods.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Though Windows 10 is not strong as macOS in protecting viruses, the major cause of virus infection is due to your own browsing activities. Avoid the followings to protect your PC before the virus infection.
- Never click on suspicious links in emails. You can always hover over the link and see the real link in the status bar. Most of the time, underlying link will be different while the text looks good on the email.
- Don’t browse not secure, pornography and illegal sites. Use safe browsing option in Google Chrome to stop dangerous sites.
- Avoid downloading and installing applications from unknown developers.
How to Know the Infection?
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to tell whether your computer is compromised or not. Many times, your computer is working just fine, but inside, there’s a ticking time bomb. It may get worse, if multiple types of viruses infect your computer. Common symptoms may include the followings:
- Modified browser home page
- Sluggish web browsers
- Unreasonably slow computer
- New icons are appearing on the desktop
- Some Windows functions are inaccessible
How to Cleanup Virus Infection in Windows PC?
Try out the following when you suspect your computer is infected with virus.
1. Finding and Deleting Viruses
The normal antivirus program on your computer may not work after the infection. So, it is not possible to cleanup the PC using the antivirus as the malware may stop the antivirus program to scan. Even you know there is a malware process runs on your computer, you may not be able to kill the process. The solution is to use programs like RKill to kill the known malicious processes and then delete the infected files.
1.1. Terminating Suspicious Program
RKill is a specialized program that can help you terminate any potentially malicious process. This utility only closes the process, without deleting any file.
- Download the RKill utility, install and open it.
- It will scan your computer and look for potentially malicious processes.
- Wait until RKill completes the termination of malicious processes and generates a log file.
- Check the log and find any suspected processes running without your knowledge. Those are the first indication about the presence of virus in your computer.
After using RKill, the next step is to scan your computer and clean the identified program.
1.2. Deleting Using Windows Security App
Ensure not to restart the PC, once RKill terminates the processes. You can delete the infected files using the default Windows Security app or with any third-party software.
- Launch Windows Security app previously known as Windows Defender Security Center.
- Go to “Virus & threat protection” section and choose “Full scan” option.
- Now Windows Security app will scan your computer and delete the identified threats.
After completion of deleting the files identified by RKill, you can choose “Windows Defender Offline Scan”. Disconnect your computer from Internet connection or switch off your Wi-Fi router. Now, restart the computer in safe mode and Windows Defender will perform a scan and deletion of viruses on your computer.
You can also use other third-party tools like Malwarebytes. The free version will help to quarantine the infected files on your computer. If you are happy, purchase the premium version to protect your computer.
2. Using Command Prompt to Delete Viruses
You may also use the built-in CMD command in Windows to remove viruses. Command Prompt allows you to explore your computer in text-based interface, which is similar to the old DOS. However, be aware that CMD is a powerful feature and it could delete any file directly. If you remove a critical Windows file, your computer will be unusable and it may require a reinstall.
When you do this, make sure that you already know the name and location of the suspected files that you want to delete. You can get the infected files either using your antivirus program or using program like RKill as explained above.
- Restart the computer and choose the safe mode.
- Type in CMD in the search field and when the console opens, go to the desired drive.
- Simply type “del filename” and hit enter to delete the file.
3. Use External Bootable Drive to Regain Control
Some Trojans are powerful that will slow down the entire computer. In other cases, your Windows OS may refuse to load at all. In these scenarios, you can’t login to your PC. The solution is to boot the PC with external bootable USB drive and try to cleanup.
- For this, you need a different working and healthy computer to download Norton Bootable Recovery file.
- The file should be named NBRT.iso and you can use it to burn a new CD or DVD.
- If you want to use USB flash drive instead, download the Rufus tool, so you can burn the .iso file into the flash drive. Be aware that this will wipe the content of your USB flash drive, so make sure that you don’t have any important file in it.
- Open Rufus, choose ISO image under the “Format Options”, select the NBRT.iso file and click “Start”.
- Now you have a bootable USB with Norton Bootable Recovery file.
- Turn on the infected PC and go to the BIOS menu.
- Change the boot sequence to boot your PC with USB flash drive.
- Attach the flash drive and reboot the PC.
- If successful, you will see a welcome page and NBRT will perform a scan.
- When the scan completes, it will show you the list of identified threats from which you can select and delete the threats.
- When fixing something, make sure that it’s a genuine threat, because you can’t undo your actions.
- If you are satisfied with the results, reboot the PC, remove the flash drive and see whether you can regain control of your PC.
- If not, reboot with the flash drive reattached and repeat the scanning process.
4. Chrome Cleanup Tool
Google Chrome browser offers a free malware cleanup tool for Windows PC. This tool will help to delete the malicious software if it impacts the operation of Chrome browser.
- Launch Chrome browser and press “Alt + F” to open the settings menu and choose “Settings” option.
- Scroll down and click on “Advanced” option.
- Again scroll down to the bottom and choose “Clean up computer” option under “Reset and clean up” section.
- Click “Find” button against “Find and remove harmful software” option.
- Chrome will start checking your computer and cleanup the malicious files.
Remember, this is not a complete solution for cleaning up infected files. However, it works effectively when the malware affects the browser’s behavior.
5. Nuke Your Hard Drive
If you can’t remove the viruses completely regardless of your effort, the last option is to choose the nuclear option. That is formatting your hard drive and wipe out all data. Sometimes, you can format the drive within the infected computer. However, you can’t format the drive in certain cases.
- Remove the hard drive from your computer and attach it to another, healthy computer.
- Make sure that the other computer is well protected with a strong antivirus solution.
- Reformat the infected hard drive completely to wipe everything clean.
- Put the hard drive back to your computer and reinstall Windows OS and all needed programs.
This could be the least convenient method for removing viruses, but still remain the most effective.
Cleaning up the virus infected computer is a challenging task. However, you can follow one of the above explained methods to get rid of the malware and viruses. Also keep your browsing habits in safe and secure manner to avoid getting malicious files to your computer.