Run a virus scan
A bit obvious, isn’t it? While you’re at it, make sure your antivirus program has been updated recently. If you haven’t bought a new version in a few years, now’s the time.
Run a second virus scan with a different program
Antivirus programs sometimes come up with different results. It’s a good idea to scan with a second program to pick up anything the first one left behind. However, you shouldn’t try to run two antivirus programs concurrently; they’ll conflict with each other. I like free programs Malwarebytes for PC and Sophos Antivirus for Mac.
Watch your computer’s behavior
Is it slower than usual, crashing, having a hard time redrawing the screen? These can all be signs that viruses are running in the background.
Monitor active programs
If a virus is running in the background, it may show up in the list of active programs. You can then click on it and End Task (Windows) or Force Quit (Mac). Bear in mind, though, most viruses will restart on reboot, and some will even regenerate on the spot no matter how many times you quit them.
- Windows XP
Ctrl-Alt-Delete, then click Task Manager
- Windows Vista/7
or right-click the taskbar and click Start Task Manager
- Mac OS X
Option-Cmd-Escape (the Force Quit menu)
or open a Terminal window and type ps -aef
Check your Web browser extensions
Browser extensions provide additional functionality on the Web. Some are terrific tools while others are sneaky little devils that serve you ads, slurp your data, and otherwise spy on you. Here’s how you can check your browser extensions.
Check your Sent folder
If your email is spewing spam, it may show up in your Sent Items folder. Viruses often commandeer email accounts to send spam.
Check your Facebook and Twitter
If there are all sorts of weird links on your Facebook wall that you didn’t post, your account may have been hijacked. And if that’s the case, it may have happened through a virus infection on your computer.
Start in Safe Mode
If your computer is so confused it won’t work properly, you can boot into Safe Mode which may allow you to diagnose the problem.
- Windows XP, Vista, 7
Hold down F8 at reboot (before the Windows logo)
- Mac OS X
Hold down Shift at reboot
Ask the Internet
Fortunately we don’t have to compute in a vacuum. If you think you’re infected with a particular virus, do a Web search on it. You’ll often find removal instructions and links to tools (just make sure those tools are legit and not themselves viruses in disguise).
Inspect your other computers
If one is infected, it’s likely the others are, too. You need to keep all your computers secure, even if they’re old or you don’t use them often.
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