5 ways to clean up your PC and remove viruses

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Viruses are nothing new, but they’ve been rampant since the pandemic. The reason is simple: we’re online now more than ever, and hackers are taking advantage of that.

We called on ESET to walk us through what to do if you suspect your computer has a virus, and the best ways to remove viruses from PCs before they wreak havoc.

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What kinds of viruses can infect PCs?

Like Macs, PCs aren’t immune from viruses. Unfortunately, malware is becoming more common as cybercriminals find new, creative ways to infect our devices and networks.

Malware is short for “malicious software,” and it’s basically code that destroys, damages or steals your data. There are many types of malware to look out for. These include ransomware, which holds your data hostage until you pay up, and adware that causes unwanted ads to pop up on your computer constantly. Then there’s phishing scams, which are emails or messages that appear to be authentic, but trick you into clicking on or downloading a suspicious link or attachment.

How to tell if your PC has a virus

Chances are, you know what your PC is like when it’s running smoothly — and when it’s not working as well as it should.

These are common signs of a virus, so keep an eye out for them.

  • Your device is super slow.

If it’s taking ages to open applications and run internet searches, and your device’s fan starts making whirring sounds with the effort, that could signal a virus.

  • You’re being bombarded with pop-up windows.

Whether they’re on your computer or a web browser, unwanted pop-up ads are a telltale sign of malware and spyware. The same goes for software security warnings, especially if you don’t have that particular brand of software installed.

  • Your PC keeps freezing, crashing or logging you out of accounts.

Malware causes your computer to act in a certain way. The goal? To get you to restart an infected device or log back in by clicking on an infected link.

  • Your programs are opening and closing by themselves.

Watch out for these types of unexpected actions, as well as when applications fail to load over and over again.

  • You’re sending mass emails without your knowledge.

Think of these as the modern-day chain email. Viruses are often spread via email, as people are compelled to click on links or attachments passed along by their friends and family. If you notice your outbox contains emails you didn’t send, your PC might have a virus.

  • You can’t access admin tools or system settings.

If you’re locked out of Task Manager or similar programs, you could be dealing with a viral infection. And if you can access those tools but notice your device using an unusually high amount of disk storage, that’s another red flag.

5 ways to get rid of a PC virus

Pretty sure your PC is infected with a virus? Follow these steps to clean malware from your PC and get your computer back to working order.

1. Invest in a premium antivirus software

To protect your PC from new, emerging and existing threats, install sophisticated antivirus software. The best PC cleaner and antivirus, ESET Internet Security offers stronger protection than the built-in security features of your PC, and offers a real-time, multilayered defence against a range of cyber threats.

It also allows you to run boot-time scans, which clear your computer of malware that’s programmed to kick in when you switch on the device. If the software picks up on any infected files, you’ll see options to delete, fix or move those to quarantine. ESET offers a 30-day trial, so you can try the software before committing.

Top tip: Installed an antivirus and cleaner for PC a while ago? That’s great! Check for any updates, and download those as soon as possible to ensure your PC has the highest level of protection.

2. Run a virus scanner

These programs operate in the background, scanning for viruses while you’re using your PC and alerting you when they find malicious code in Windows.

To test out this feature, check out ESET Online Scanner. It’s free and offers a one-time scan to detect and remove malware, spyware, Trojans and threats from your computer. Compatible with Microsoft Windows 10/8.1/8/7, the tool runs alongside any antivirus software you already have installed. After scanning your PC, it’ll send you instructions for “quarantining” the infected files and effectively removing the virus. If you’re happy with the results from the free trial, it’s worth considering ESET Internet Security. The scanning feature is built into the software, where it regularly checks for infections and suspicious applications.

3. Delete temporary files

This will help to remove any malicious files you may have recently downloaded without your knowledge, whether you’ve opened them yet or not. To do this, head to Disk Cleanup, select the drive you want to clean, then click OK. Under File types to delete, check the box next to Temporary files. Quickly look over the list of files that appear to make sure you’re not deleting anything important, and then tap OK. As a bonus, deleting temporary files is the best way to clean up your computer and make it faster.

5. Update your OS and passwords

While you’re in clean-up mode, update your operating system to the latest version and change your passwords, starting with your most important accounts (like email and bank accounts) and going from there.

5. Restart your computer

Once you’ve done all of the above, restart your device. It should run much faster and smoother than before.

Head to ESET for all the cybersecurity help you need

Still have questions about how to make your computer less laggy and more? ESET’s team of experts are always on hand to answer them and guide you toward the best cybersecurity solutions, so reach out today!

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