We rely heavily on our computers, tablets, and smartphones every day for work, communication, and entertainment. One thing that threatens every one of these devices is viruses, malware, and data-leaking bugs. Viruses are constantly evolving to avoid detection and to improve their effectiveness in collecting data, stealing money or accessing private files.
Viruses often disguise themselves as legitimate-looking emails, structured links or embedded videos. As viruses have become harder to identify, the market for anti-virus and security software has expanded greatly. The majority of viruses are harmless, and mostly just impact computer performance and connection speed, but there are some threats that involve your private information including banking or health information.
With this in mind, here are twenty ways to remove a virus from your computer or prevent viruses from infecting your computer in the first place.
#1: Install An Anti-Virus Computer Software
One of the easiest ways to remove harmless viruses from your computer is to install an anti-virus computer software. These tools can detect even the smallest of viruses and remove them from doing further harm. Also, they can serve several other virus protective purposes such as setting ups virus traps and other similar methods. That being said, be aware that this tool is most effective for common viruses. Any bigger viruses might a more serious virus removal method. These tools rely on knowledge of current threats, so the most recently developed viruses can sometimes slip through the cracks.
Read More: 13 Best Anti-Spyware Tools for 2019
#2: Factory Reset Your Computer
One of the most overlooked methods at removing a computer virus is to factory reset your computer. In a nutshell, factory resetting your computer will completely erase everything to recreate the internal interface it had when it was brand new. It’s important to back up any important data before resetting your computer, so those contents aren’t lost. This method can be time-consuming as you’ll have to reinstall any programs that you installed on the computer yourself.
#3: Update Your Computer’s Internal Virus Firewall
Most computers come equipped with internal virus firewalls. The firewall is intended to prevent you from installing harmful software from illegitimate sources. In some cases, this is the first layer of protection that a virus breaks through. This stems from the fact that it is usually the weakest protection that you might have. Updating your computer’s internal virus firewall regularly can help avoid this problem.
Read More: What is Firewall Security?
#4: Run Computer Virus Scans Regularly
Anti-virus software can scan your computer to detect any new viruses that may have been installed on your device.. A scan serves the purpose of looking for different types of viruses that might have crept through the preventative systems. A scan can find different viruses including software malware, spam viruses, and email viruses as well. While they might not be as detailed in their search for bigger viruses, they are very effective in other areas.
#5: Regularly Update Your Computer’s Operating System
Another overlooked method at catching and removing computer viruses is regularly updating your computer’s operating system. A computer’s operating system is what manages the hardware, software, and other internal services that your computer provides. Because it manages the software, viruses may exploit this avenue to attack. This is where the importance of regularly updating your operating system comes into play. Doing this keeps your system’s security up to date and minimizes any vulnerabilities it may have.
#6: Secure Your Network With Multiple Security Layers
Above everything else, securing your network with multiple layers protects the files on your computer from being remotely accessed. This is an important step to take as the majority of files on most computers are backed up by an internal cloud service or other similar installed software. Protecting it with multiple layers quite obviously prevents your computer in case a virus somehow finds its way through one layer of protection.
#7: Two-Step Verify Your Personal Information
As mentioned before, most if not all computers will require you to provide some personal information. This is to make the computer’s interface more interactive and helpful to you. However, the mistake many people make is not protecting this information with two step-verification. Two-step verification works similarly to double layer protections as it provides a second layer of protection against any virus. More importantly, it also helps against social engineering harm if a person tries to log in to your computer.
#8: Use A VPN When Connecting To Open Networks
Having mentioned some of the many benefits of mobile computers, it does have one downside that many people ignore. Traveling with a computer means you’ll inevitably be connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. Protecting your connection by using a VPN can help keep your internet connection secure. This is where VPNs are most effective. Also known as a virtual private network, this tool helps protect your computer from viruses and hackers when connected to a public connection.
Read More: Best VPNs for 2019
#9: Store Your Computer Files Externally
If you know your computer is infected with a virus, a preventative measure against damage is to store your files externally. This means taking any personal information or files out using a physical flash drive, virtual flash drive, or cloud storing service. As far as how this tip prevents viruses, it allows you to safely and securely factory reset your computer to clean it entirely.
#10: Use A Computer Rescue Disk
A computer rescue disk has proven to be one of the most well-rounded approaches to protecting your computer against a virus. Specifically, a computer rescue disk allows the user to use a physical storage CD to scan your computer without having to start up anything. This allows for a more thorough examination of any viruses by scanning any hidden files, drivers, and other places where a virus might be hidden.
#11: Trust Your Judgement
An old-fashioned method of protecting against a virus us trusting your judgment. Let’s face it, you know your computer better than anybody else. That said, if you feel like your computer’s performance is not like it used to be, consider the possibility that it might be infected. In some cases, this personal judgment has prevented viruses from growing to the point where it can’t be stopped.
#12: Install An Add Blocker On Your Computer
Another common way that viruses like to infect a computer is through ads. Whether they are through blog spam ads, email ads, or even false video ads, it’s an easy pathway for viruses because of how common ads are online. Because of this, installing an ad blocker app on your computer is one of the best things you can do.
#13: Browse In Incognito Mode On Occasion
When you are at home, there is no need to browse in incognito mode. Incognito mode is usually reserved for quick browsing without having left an online trace. However, whether you are at home or in public, it’s beneficial to browse in incognito mode on occasion. This mainly serves as a way to minimize the risk of catching a virus with everyday browsing.
#14: Clear Your Spam Emails
Worth repeating, one of the most effective ways viruses find a way through to your computer is through emails. This is an effective strategy for viruses as they as virus emails are sometimes hard to distinguish from regular spam emails. The good thing is that most people have a spam filter to send unrecognized emails straight to a separate location. The bad thing is that if that spam location is not cleared, that means that virus email might still be in your computer.
#15: Clear Your Computer Cache
Your computer cache is the space in the hard drive of your computer. It’s what takes up RAM and other forms of saved space. It is mainly used by your computer as immediate memory to make your browsing faster and more user-friendly. However, some viruses are made specifically for taking up space within your computer. Simply put, there is a reason why there is a clear cache setting on all computers.
#16: Update Your Computer Applications
Yet another avenue where a virus can find its way through is through your computer’s applications. This mostly stems from the fact that many people forget to update their apps. Some computers have an auto-update setting to prevent this but, if it is not set, it’s an easy waiting spot for the virus.
#17: Restart Your Computer
With harmless viruses, one of the simplest ways to get rid of them is by restarting your computer. It is there to give your computer a break so it can come back and perform more efficiently. The bonus in a restart is that it gets rid of small viruses.
#18: Consider Hiring A Professional Virus Remover
When it comes to more serious viruses, one of the last steps that should be taken to remove a virus is hiring a professional. The main benefit that a professional has over simple anti-virus software is that they can go into the internal software of the computer itself. This provides a more detailed analysis of viruses. If you’ve tried everything else in this list with no luck, hiring someone may be a last resort.
#19: Use A USB Portable Cleaning Tool
Portable USB cleaning tools can be inserted into your computer and will scan your device for any threats. While these portable cleaning tools can be convenient, there are some security vulnerabilities associated with plugging anything into your USB ports.
#20: Use A Free Online Virus Remover
There are online virus detection and removal services which can work just as well as installed software. These tools are often subscription-based, so you have to pay a monthly fee to use them. These services can help prevent malware and viruses from infecting your computer.