We get a lot of calls about virus infected PCs. This article shows the different antivirus programs we use to defeat even the most vicious viruses. Keep in mind that most of the time a real solution requires scanning with multiple tools. We will first show how we use some of the larger antivirus programs to pre-scan a machine, and some smaller utilities that can help clean up left-overs that may leave error messages or other side-effects. Before you attempt any virus removal, make sure you have your data backed up, and that you have a system restore point to fall back on, in case you remove virus files that were actually necessary to boot Windows.
Our first go-to tool is called Malwarebytes. This program treats annoying spyware, toolbars, bloatware and other potentially unwanted programs that many larger anti-virus applications don’t consider ‘virusy’ enough. That means that some of these malware programs slip through the cracks and invite their malware friends along, often creating the same symptoms that real viruses are known for – like slowing to a crawl, spying on your browsing, or trojan-horse behavior. Malwarebytes.org is getting really popular, and some deep-rooted viruses are able to prevent it from functioning. That’s why it’s a good idea to install and run it in Safe mode with networking. After installing Malwarebytes, it’s enabled a free trial that provides an active malware-shield function that when combined with Microsoft Security Essentials is very effective. At only $25, this is one of the best paid-for deals around.
Never forget to scan the Programs and Features list of programs in your control panel. Most Malware has a valid uninstaller which will do most of the work for you.
Kaspersky has some great tools that are capable of thoroughly rooting out viruses that have hidden themselves from the operating system, and therefore also hidden from Malwarebytes. So on an infected system, it’s also a good idea to have a portable edition of Kaspersky’s Removal tool on a CD, so that you can boot to it and clean up the more tricky viruses.
These utilities will help you spot extra issues:
There is also always the need for manual solutions to problematic systems. We always carry around SysInternals Suite for this reason. Their Autoruns tool is a quick way to see everything that could be loading and interferring with the rest of your antivirus removal process. Piriform’s CCleaner is also very useful to remove start-up items and toolbars out of the common browsers. It’s registry scanner will kill any left-over references to files that are no longer on your computer.
Free Anti-virus tools you can also install:
Finally, you will need to make sure the computer has only one active security software that’s up to date. Typically, most people let their Norton or McAfee virus scanner expire and put off updating until another time. What they don’t know is that it’s way more likely that they will become infected with this kind of subscription based security. The moment you don’t pay, updated viruses are simply missed and you are completely unprotected. There are many free options out there that are pretty good at protecting you from new threats. Here are some of our favorites:
- AVG Free – Great protection, but needs annual attention when each year’s updates become available on-line.
- AVIRA – This German company created a great security program, probably one of the best. But the free edition creates pop-ups, and updating is excruciatingly slow.
- Avast – A more aggressive antivirus program, free edition requires registering with a valid e-mail address.
- Microsoft Security Essentials – Good choice for people who don’t usually get too many viruses, and don’t want pop-ups. Works well with Malwarebytes.