To pick up where we left off in part one of this series, we will now discuss methods you can use to scan your computer for malware, as well as ways to remove infections once they are detected.
How to see if your computer is infected via scans
Part one of this series mentioned some tell-tale signs that could signify that your computer is infected with malware. Whether it be pop-ups, fake antivirus, unusually slow performance, or other factors, these discussed symptoms were ones noticeable to the naked eye. If you do not notice any of these symptoms, however, you are still not in the clear. Since many hackers are creating malware that successfully hides itself, you will have to dig deeper. For this, you will need to run a scan.
You may be thinking that in order to run a scan on your computer for malware, you will have to pay out of pocket. Luckily, there are plenty of antivirus scanners online that are free. Also, if you want some added peace of mind, vendors of antivirus software also have scanners included with their programs.
Getting back to the scanners you can download without breaking the bank, some popular ones include Malwarebytes, Spybot – Search & Destroy, Ad-Aware, Avast Free Antivirus, and HouseCall from Trend Micro. If you are a Mac user, check out ClamXav.
Obviously, each of the listed programs have their own advantages, and some users will prefer one over the other. By that same token, the programs also vary in terms of their technology. For this reason, it is a good idea to download more than one program to get the best protection and detection possible. If you run a scan with one program and no malware is detected, go ahead and run a scan with a different program to see if you get the same results. The possibility exists that one program may detect malware that the other didn't. Just as with going to the doctor, in the case of malware detection, it's best to get a second opinion.
While it is best to run multiple scans, when it comes to running antivirus software on a regular basis for consistent protection, stick with just one program. If you have more than one antivirus program running at the same time on an ongoing basis, your computer's performance will likely become lethargic.
After you run your system scans, you may be given the bad news that your computer is infected. Many scanners already come with removal tools that will rid your computer of the malware, but there are other options as well. If you want an automated removal solution, you can try Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool. Microsoft updates this tool on a monthly basis to check your computer for new malware.
If you want a more hands-on approach via help from others, Microsoft has a Consumer Security Support site with agents ready to help you. You will need to run a malware scan first, which is free, before receiving personalized help. You can also contact the your antivirus software company for help, if available. For help from other users online, you can check out various help forums where you can list the details of your problems, and forum members can walk you through steps to disinfect your computer. An example of such a site is the Bleeping Computer forum.
Should you lack the patience or tech savvy to run through the problems, even with help, you can contact a service that will do the work for you. Some services will provide support over the phone, in-house, or at their location. This solution is likely to be costly, however.
Keep it here for the third and final part of this series, which will detail more ways to remove malware from your computer and provide tips on how to prevent infections in the future.
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