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Viruses are everywhere! And although we’d like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), we all know that there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked their way into search engine results, and ad pop-ups all can pose a threat. Although there are precautions you can take to limit the risk of infecting your computer, sometimes you simply have bad luck and get infected anyway. But thankfully, you can do it for completely free, although removing malware can be a painful process. And because of that, I’ve laid out all the steps of exactly how to do it.

It’s Not Just Viruses — Other Kinds Of Malware To Know About

2 Kinds of Malware

Because there are so many kinds The 9 Types of Computer Viruses To Watch Out For & What They Do The 9 Types of Computer Viruses To Watch Out For & What They Do Read More , “virus” is typically the term used to describe all the nasty stuff that can infect your computer. But the correct term is actually malware, and there’s lots of it.  Chris Hoffman wrote an article differentiating between the three main types of malware What Is The Difference Between A Worm, A Trojan & A Virus? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Difference Between A Worm, A Trojan & A Virus? [MakeUseOf Explains] Some people call any type of malicious software a "computer virus," but that isn't accurate. Viruses, worms, and trojans are different types of malicious software with different behaviors. In particular, they spread themselves in very... Read More : viruses, trojans and worms. In that same article, he also briefly explains what spyware and scareware are. Scareware, or ransomware, is simply a program that infects your computer and then prompts you to pay to get it fixed. Guy McDowell goes more in depth in what ransomware is and how to remove it Don't Pay Up - How To Beat Ransomware! Don't Pay Up - How To Beat Ransomware! Just imagine if someone showed up on your doorstep and said, "Hey, there's mice in your house that you didn't know about. Give us $100 and we'll get rid of them." This is the Ransomware... Read More . Lastly, there’s adware, i.e. unsolicited advertising installed on your computer.

How To Detect The Symptoms That You’re Infected

3 Symptoms

Why do you need to know how to detect symptoms – that’s what you have an antivirus program for, right? Well, that’s true – they help for sure. There have been occasions where mine has caught something and I’ve been able to get rid of it before it has been able to cause any harm. However, if an antivirus program isn’t updated with the latest definitions, it might not catch everything. Plus, it’s always better to know what to look for, rather than depending on what a program says.

1. Homepage And Search Engine Hijacking

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Ever wonder why your homepage, now redirects to some weird website? Or what about your default search engine now being some other search engine that you’ve never heard of or recognize? These are tell-tale signs of malicious activity on your computer.

2. You’re Redirected To A Different Site Without Warning

Similar to the previous one, another problem you might run into is being taken to another website, likely malicious, when you typed in or clicked something completely different that you know hasn’t taken you there before.

3. Pop-ups

Ah, yes. The notorious pop-ups — we all know what they are.

4. Crashes

This isn’t always related to a malware infection, but if this is happening along with some of the others mentioned here, you’ve most likely got something.

5. Unfamiliar Programs And Toolbars

Ever wonder how all of those toolbars got there in your browser? They are full of search boxes and loads of useless buttons. Frankly, no one needs toolbars anymore. But if one showed up unannounced, it was either your poor program installation habits A Simple Checklist To Safely Installing Free Software Without All The Junk A Simple Checklist To Safely Installing Free Software Without All The Junk Picture this - you've just found this awesome free software that you are stoked about because of all that it can do for you, but when you install it, you discover that it is packed... Read More , or it snuck its way onto your computer… or both.

6. Slow Computer Online And Offline

Internet connectivity issues are one thing, but if your computer is always running slow, whether you’re online or not, you better keep reading this article.

7. Browser Can’t Load Pages

I hate to be the barer of bad news, but if your browser(s) continue(s) telling you that pages can’t be loaded, yet your Internet connection is fine, I’d bet that there’s something fishy going on.

The Steps To Take If You Are Infected

There is a level of panic and worry that can overwhelm you whenever you realize that your computer has been infected – you feel vulnerable and open. However, it’s not over for your computer and all of your files that it contains. There are ten things you need to do to obliterate that virus, trojan, worm, or whatever else may be infecting your computer and restore it to the state that it was prior to the infection.

1. Back Up Your Personal Files

4 Backup

Hopefully you have already been backing up your files. But even so, I recommend that you copy your personal files elsewhere just to be safe. Secondly, you don’t want to back up everything on your computer, as there’s a risk that you could save some infected files along with it.

I’ve written several articles on backing up, but the two that you should refer to the most would be why you need to backup Why You Need To Backup Now And 6 Reasons Why You Haven't Done So Already Why You Need To Backup Now And 6 Reasons Why You Haven't Done So Already How else can I say this? Actually, there is no other way more straightforward than this: you need to backup now. The risks involved with not doing so are simply not worth it. There’s no... Read More and recovery tips to help you prepare for a disaster Prepare For The Worst: Disaster Recovery Tips You Need To Use Now Prepare For The Worst: Disaster Recovery Tips You Need To Use Now No! This is not happening to you right now! It’s 1:30 AM, you’re almost finished with your huge project due at 8 AM and your computer just crashed and won’t turn on! Worse yet, you... Read More .

2. Disconnect From The Internet

5 unplugging Ethernet cable and X over WiFi

A virus will try to call home via your Internet connection. Disconnecting from the Internet should be one of the first things you do in order to battle any form of malware. If you’re on a desktop, simply unplugging the Ethernet cable is the most certain way. If you are on a laptop, you can disconnect by unplugging the Ethernet cable, or if you’re wirelessly connected, disabling the WiFi by a physical button on your keyboard or in the Taskbar.

6 Disable WiFi

3. Boot In Safe Mode Or With A Live Antivirus Rescue Disk

7 safe mode

By booting in Safe Mode How To Start In Windows Safe Mode & Its Uses How To Start In Windows Safe Mode & Its Uses Read More , you’re able to prevent any non-core components from running, allowing you to isolate problems easier. To do this, restart your computer, and press and hold the F8 key while your computer starts up. The first option, “Safe Mode”, should be already selected, but if not, you can navigate to it with your arrow keys. Then press Enter. Once you’re in Safe Mode, you can continue the malware-removal process.

If Windows won’t start at all, you can use an antivirus rescue disk. These are available for free from many antivirus companies such as Kaspersky, Avira, AVG, and others. Justin Pot has written several articles on this, including one on three live CD antivirus scanners Three Live CD Antivirus Scanners You Can Try When Windows Won't Start Three Live CD Antivirus Scanners You Can Try When Windows Won't Start Can't boot your computer, and think the problem is malware? Boot a live CD made specifically for scanning your computer without starting Windows. A live CD is a tool that boots completely from a CD... Read More , and two more detailed posts on how to create a BitDefender BitDefender Rescue CD Removes Viruses When All Else Fails BitDefender Rescue CD Removes Viruses When All Else Fails Read More and Kaspersky rescue disks Kaspersky Rescue Disk Saves You From Reinstalling Badly Infected Windows Kaspersky Rescue Disk Saves You From Reinstalling Badly Infected Windows Read More . Lastly, you have the option of using a Linux Live CD Kill Windows Viruses With An Ubuntu Live CD Kill Windows Viruses With An Ubuntu Live CD Today's anti-virus solutions are pretty reliable, protecting you from most of the common threats out there in the world. With safe browsing habits, there's a rare chance that you'd ever get infected with malware. However,... Read More .

4. Get Another Computer With Internet Access

8 second computer with internet access

You will more than likely need the aid of another reliable computer connected to the Web in order to resolve your malware problems. This is because you will need to research the problems and symptoms of the specific infection, as well as download various programs to remove the infection. If you don’t have another computer, you might talk to a good friend or family member and explain your situation. Of course, if you are going to school at a college or university, or if you have access to a computer lab at a library, you might be able to use a public computer to do this as well.

When you download any executable programs on the clean computer, you will of course need a way to transport them to the infect computer. What I find best is a flash drive with no other valuable files on it. You might also use an SD card or portable hard drive.

5. Try To Identify The Actual Malware And Search For Fixes

9 ID

Often times when malware infects your computer, it isn’t just some generic virus, but a specific kind that needs to be removed with a certain procedure. There are articles and forums all over the Web that address all kinds of malware infections. Start with a basic search based on the little information you know about the infection. For instance, if it’s in the form of a fake antivirus program, what is its name? Once you have somewhere to start, you can keep searching and gathering more information about what to do. Ideally, you’ll find instructions to walk you through the entire process from start to finish.

In case you are completely lost at this point, you can also ask MakeUseOf Answers and we will point you in the right direction.

6. Scan With Multiple Programs Until No Infections Are Found

10 scanning

If you can’t find anything specific about the infection, don’t worry — there are a variety of tools you can use to remove infections Make Sure You're Clean With These Free One-Time Scan Antivirus Tools [Windows] Make Sure You're Clean With These Free One-Time Scan Antivirus Tools [Windows] It sucks to be constantly bombarded by computer-related threats, whether they’re spyware, malware, viruses, keyloggers, or whatever else. A popular way to combat this problem is to install an antivirus solution that sits in the... Read More . These tools range from antivirus to rootkit removers to anti-adware and antispyware to general antimalware programs.

On our Best Of Windows Software page, we have sections for antivirus, malware removal and firewall applications.

Some tools I recommend are the Kaspersky TDSSKiller for removing rootkits, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware and HitmanPro for removing all kinds of malware, and AdwCleaner AdwCleaner Makes Adware Removal Easier Than Ever [Windows] AdwCleaner Makes Adware Removal Easier Than Ever [Windows] When confronted with adware or other junkware, the average person is going to tell you that you're going to need an application like SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes to get rid of the problem. While those are... Read More for removing adware. All of these tools are free and can be used in conjunction with one another.

Again, you will have to download these on the clean computer connected to the Internet and transfer their executable files to the infected computer. Programs like Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware often need Internet access to get the latest definitions, so I often use it to make one last swipe once I’m able to connect to the Internet once more and download the updates. I then return to Safe Mode to run the scans.

NOTE: You should know that although you can use multiple malware removal programs, you can’t use multiple antivirus programs, as they can conflict.

7. Clean Up Temporary Files And Worthless Programs

11 clean up

Once you’ve removed the nasty infections, it’s time to clean up any remaining files. The recommended program to do this is CCleaner Optimize Your System To Run At Its Best With CCleaner Optimize Your System To Run At Its Best With CCleaner Over the last two years, CCleaner has changed quite a bit in terms of version numbers...up now to version 3.10 at the time of this writing. While visually the program actually hasn't changed much (it's... Read More . It’s not considered a “security program” by any means, but it can help during this process. However, CCleaner isn’t the only good cleaner available Cleaners Compared: CCleaner vs. Slimcleaner vs. IObit Advanced SystemCare Cleaners Compared: CCleaner vs. Slimcleaner vs. IObit Advanced SystemCare Although Windows is a very capable operating system, it is infamous for its deteriorating performance over time. With the help of some clever system cleaners, however, you can drastically increase the life expectancy of your... Read More . IObit’s AdvancedCare Advanced SystemCare 6 Beta 2.0 - Your Very Own PC Doctor [Windows] Advanced SystemCare 6 Beta 2.0 - Your Very Own PC Doctor [Windows] Advanced SystemCare is an all-in-one computer tool. It can remove software no longer needed, delete junk files that bog down your computer’s hard drive and fix registry issues, as well as tons more. Literally, tons.... Read More , System Ninja Keep Your Computer Tidier With Free & Portable System Ninja Keep Your Computer Tidier With Free & Portable System Ninja Read More , as well as others like Xleaner and DriveTidy 2 Lesser-Known & Portable Alternatives To CCleaner [Windows] 2 Lesser-Known & Portable Alternatives To CCleaner [Windows] If your argument is that CCleaner is the best resource to cleaning out Windows' junk and temporary files, then I won't be the guy to argue with you. I've even made a post in the... Read More , are several good alternatives.

This might also be a good time to comb through your programs list with an app like GeekUninstaller GeekUninstaller Will Uninstall Programs You Thought You Couldn't [Windows] GeekUninstaller Will Uninstall Programs You Thought You Couldn't [Windows] When it comes to third-party uninstallation software, everyone knows of Revo. It's often considered to be the top of that class. However, many alternatives exists and it's great to offer the MUO audience a choice.... Read More to remove unneeded or potentially risky software that snuck its way into your computer.

8. Remove System Restore Points

12 System Restore

Although System Restore can be very helpful How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It System restore is not an automatic feature in Windows 7. Usually it is enabled when you've purchased a new system, but after running updates, installing system tools or running any other list of tasks that... Read More and has proven to help me many times, system restore points do have the potential to contain malware, so it’s recommended that you delete those to ensure that all traces of malware are removed from your computer. If you know for sure when you contracted the malware, you can remove the restore points up to that time. However, to be safe, I recommend you remove all of them.

To do this in Windows Vista and 7 (and Windows 8 if you have a Start Menu tool Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More , like Classic Shell Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 usable for people who think it's not. Add a start menu to the desktop and tweak the way Explorer and Internet Explorer behave, all thanks to a piece of software called Classic... Read More ), click the Start button, right-click Computer, and then Properties.

13 Start - Computer - Properties

Click System protection in the left panel, which may then prompt you for an administrator password or confirmation. Under the System Protection tab click Configure, then click Delete and OK.

14 system protection – configure – delete

If you’re using Windows 8 without a Start Menu tool, navigate your mouse cursor to the lower right-hand corner to display the Charms bar. Click Search (magnifying glass), type “recovery” and click Settings.  You should then see a result that says Recovery, for me it was the second result down in the right panel.

15.1 Charms bar

15.2 Search - recovery

Once you click it, you’ll be taken to a window with Recovery tools, where you will click the link that says Configure System Restore. Then follow the previous instructions.

16 recovery tools - configure system restore

If you use Windows XP, follow these instructions provided by Microsoft.

9. Fix Post-Malware Removal Problems

There may be some problems that you encounter after you remove the infections from your computer. A couple quick options you might try would be Microsoft’s Fix It tool Is the Microsoft Fix It Service Really Any Good? [MakeUseOf Tests] Is the Microsoft Fix It Service Really Any Good? [MakeUseOf Tests] Have computer problems? Microsoft's Fix It service attempts to fix them for you. If you've browsed Microsoft's help pages, you've probably seen a variety of "Fix It" programs you can run to quickly fix a... Read More and a tool called Re-Enable II. Below are some common problems and how you might be able to fix them.

Can’t Connect To The Internet
This guide by Select Real Security is invaluable and can suggests many steps you might take to fix this problem.

Search Engine Redirecting To Random Website
One of the primary reasons for this, if you have Java (which you likely don’t need Is Java Unsafe & Should You Disable It? Is Java Unsafe & Should You Disable It? Oracle’s Java plug-in has become less and less common on the Web, but it’s become more and more common in the news. Whether Java is allowing over 600,000 Macs to be infected or Oracle is... Read More ), is the Java cache hasn’t been cleared yet, which Java shows you how to do.

If your primary search bar still goes elsewhere, that can be changed in the Settings of your browser Anvi Browser Repair Tool: Restore Browser Settings & Fix DNS Problems Caused By Malware Anvi Browser Repair Tool: Restore Browser Settings & Fix DNS Problems Caused By Malware Read More , whether you use Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or others.

Homepage Is Still Different
If your homepage, like your search engine, was changed, you can go into your browser settings and change what this is too.

Programs And Files Won’t Open
Select Real Security has another great guide on how to fix this as well and uses four different methods: a Registry file, an INF file that fixes executable file association, CleanAutoRun by Kaspersky, and Creating a new user account.

Missing Desktop Icons
If none of your icons are on your Desktop anymore, try the Unhide or Re-Enable II tools.

Windows Update And Firewall Won’t Work
If Windows Update and/or your Firewall aren’t working properly, you might try a tool called Windows Repair by Tweaking.com. It can do a lot, so when you use it, uncheck all of the options except for the following five:

  • Repair WMI
  • Repair Windows Updates
  • Repair Windows Firewall
  • Reset Registry Permissions
  • Reset File Permissions

Windows Repair comes in both portable and non-portable versions.

Computer Is Still Slow
If your computer is still slow, there are several things you can do.

  • Removing more temporary files
  • Fix Windows system files by typing sfc /scannow in the Run Window (Start key + R) and the restart the computer
  • Ensure you have only one antivirus program installed and running on your computer

For more advice, take a look at Bakari’s article on why you might have a slow computer Can't Stand The Slowness? The Top 10 Reasons for Poor PC Performance Can't Stand The Slowness? The Top 10 Reasons for Poor PC Performance Has your computer loaded this webpage yet? If it has, you’ll be halfway toward working out just why it seems to be running so slowly. There are many reasons for desktop and laptops to chug... Read More or Tina’s guide on speeding up Windows.

Still Having Problems? Try MakeUseOf Answers
If none of these options help, you might turn to the MakeUseOf Answers forum, which has proven helpful for many, including myself a time or two.

10. Change Your Passwords

17 Change passwords

Lastly, you should change your passwords to ensure that no information that was potentially obtained while your computer was infected can be continued to be used against you and cause even more harm.

I personally recommend using a password management strategy Use A Password Management Strategy To Simplify Your Life Use A Password Management Strategy To Simplify Your Life Much of the advice around passwords has been near-impossible to follow: use a strong password containing numbers, letters and special characters; change it regularly; come up with a completely unique password for each account etc.... Read More and Yaara wrote an excellent article on how to create strong, yet easy to remember passwords 7 Ways To Make Up Passwords That Are Both Secure & Memorable 7 Ways To Make Up Passwords That Are Both Secure & Memorable Having a different password for each service is a must in today's online world, but there's a terrible weakness to randomly generated passwords: it's impossible to remember them all. But how can you possibly remember... Read More , as well.

Conclusion: Preventing Further Infections

18 internet checklist

With so much on the Internet today, preventing every single thing can be pretty difficult, but there are ways to be safe. We’ve covered many of these in the following articles already:

Have you had the “pleasure” of removing malware from your or someone else’s computer? If so, do you have any additional insight or success stories to share? We’d love to hear them!

Image Credits: Vintage Computer via Shutterstock, Laptop With Stethoscope via Shutterstock, backing up securely via Shutterstock, Ethernet cable with forbidden sign via Shutterstock, High wireless signal via Shutterstock, Red forbidden sign via Shutterstock, Rescue Usb Flash Drive via Shutterstock, Infected computer next to non-infected computer via Shutterstock, internet email is open with various computer virus icons via Shutterstock, Scan for viruses via Shutterstock, Virus Cleaned By Programmer via Shutterstock, note pinned to a cork board with the text Change Passwords via Shutterstock, Checklist for computer security via Shutterstock

  1. Tessa
    July 14, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    I just want to know if after I've removed the virus, is the program I downloaded safe to use?

  2. Time Cop
    April 30, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I have created a new malware scanner that I want you guys to check out! It's *only a scanner * and not a removal tool YET, but I am working on it as my new project. It will faithfully scan for and detect the latest malwares! I am also working on a new interface for it, although it is good enough, it's way too basic, I will add a much better gui in the next release!

    Give this scanner a shot, and the more downloads we get the more we will develop it into a complete Anti-Malware Package!

    Thanks for trying, and don't forget to comment here, I will have a new youtube account when the next version is released!

    Downloads:

    32-Bit: https://www.sendspace.com/file/22rzro

    64-Bit: https://www.sendspace.com/file/8ssxe7

    Password: scanner

    For those who are skeptical of 'in progress / alpha / beta releases' my code scans clean with virustotal.com and I am good for my programming skills, it's for the community.?

  3. Michael Weldon
    October 13, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Any Linux LiveCD or LiveUSB can be an extremely useful tool, especially for rescuing data and files from an already-infected and/or 'locked-down' Windows machine. They can't, of course, be infected by any of the malware already present, simply because it cannot run on them...

    But I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs; doubtless many of you are already aware of this. In my opinion, the only guaranteed way to restore an infected machine is to remove the data from it (which is the important stuff, after all).....and then to re-install. I'm lucky in this respect, running 'Puppy' Linux as I do; restoring from backed up system files and save files, I can completely re-build and have a system up-and-running in less than an hour.

    Try doing that with Windows.

  4. Joni
    October 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Aaron, this was a great article! I have already started using some of these suggestions and looked up the "Best Windows software" page.

    • Aaron C
      October 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      That's great, Joni! I'm always happy to help if you have any questions -- you know how to reach me ;-)

  5. sekreid
    September 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    cant you just clean the hard drive and reinstall the operating system.

  6. Rusty Anvil
    September 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Gordon's use of both a User and Admin logon accounts is excellent, but some users just feel that there is something "better" about the Admin account and are tempted to use it as their "daily driver" for routine computing.

    To discourage this, I always set up the desktop with a high-contrast black-and-white theme. Few mortals can endure this for more than a few moments, and generally, the folks who call on me for assistance don't know how to change the theme to something more palatable.

  7. gregzeng
    September 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    After discovering malware is usually so late, that you are not really aware of the extent of the damage. So it helps to have updated REAL-TIME malware watchers. Paid or free virus protection is the most common, but will not work on the very latest versions of malware. Generally the various brandnames leapfrog over each other in the effectiveness ratings, but the losers in the race are consistently the loser brandnames.

    Less known freeware protectors that I use include Winpatrol & Process Lasso. But the best protection is to MULTI-BOOT my computers. Any Ubuntu-based operating system is compatible with Windows 7 & 8. All my data are on Windows NTFS partitions. This can be easily read-write friendly between Linux and Windows.

    Unknown to most Windows users: the 'rescue-disks' for Windows are using Linux. Most Linux installations will also allow experts to rescue a damaged Windows computer.

  8. Bob M
    September 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    From experience, MalwareBytes is the best detector of malware.

  9. QuantumPCSupport
    September 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Prevention is always better than cure. Customers need to be cautious while working on the system as well as surfing net. Using good protective tools is also a necessity. Your article was very helpful.

  10. Gordon
    August 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I lost count of how many time I have had to fix a relatives PC that was broken due to viruses or malware of some sort. It can take hours of work, and even then there is no guarantee that it's been cleaned up, or the OS is not corrupted in some way. Sometimes the quickest way is to just rebuild the PC. The best thing I ever did was to lock down everyone's PC, and giving them two logons. A User logon, and an Admin logon. The kids get no Admin logon ;-). The User logon is for day to day stuff, and the Admin one is used only for installing new software or making system changes. This makes web browsing etc MUCH safer because software vulnerabilities can't be so easily exploited or crapware installed from web sites, including dodgy back ground scripts.

    • Aaron C
      September 11, 2013 at 7:04 am

      Great tips, Gordon! Thanks for sharing your insight and experiences :-)

  11. Marian Cimbru
    August 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I think the step 7 should be the step 1.

    • Aaron C
      August 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Care to share any expertise, insight, etc. as to why you think that?

      I disagree. First of all because you should ALWAYS have a backup.

      Secondly, if you have malware, often times you won't even be able to run a lot of those other programs without using a Live CD, disconnecting from the Internet, and removing the primary threats first.

  12. Sylvio Haas
    August 27, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    The more I read these articles more I get convinced that it is easier to carefully extract a sick liever and replace it by a good one. Blindfolded.

  13. tree
    August 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    another good source for tool downloads is http://www.ejaz.me/a

    the only page with direct download links for professionals

    • Aaron C
      August 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks for sharing that link! That is an awesome resource for programs!

  14. Bruce E
    August 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Good article, Aaron. Just a couple of points based on my experience though:

    #3: Trying Safe Mode is becoming more of a futile option, just go for the rescue disc instead as it is more effective against the most current malware that is getting better at digging into and infecting core system files (thus are active in Safe Mode anyway). My current tool of choice is the Trinity Rescue Kit since I can use that one tool to scan with multiple products. Many will also need the Internet connection to update themselves (or install in the case of TRK) before the scan.

    #4: If you already have the necessary tools installed or they have been downloaded and bootable media already created, another machine is not necessary. I have these kind of tools ready to go at a moment's notice for those times when I get an emergency call from a neighbor or family member. I normally leave copies with them when I leave as well so I don't need to dig up mine the next time they call. Everyone should have a bootable rescue disc or flash drive sitting at their computer so it is handy at all times.

    #8: Deleting System Restore Points should not be recommended, but REQUIRED since most people don't realize they have been infected until they have a full set of corrupted files sitting in System Restore from all of the scheduled restore points created as well as those created during software installs and updates.

    Finally, the last steps should be the creation of a fresh Restore Point after the cleanup has been taken care of and the system has been restored to a stable (if slightly unknown) state and figuring out when a complete nuke and pave can be done on the system in order to restore trust.

    • Aaron Couch
      August 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Bruce,

      Thank you for sharing your insight and adding value to this article! All very great points and helpful. It seems with computers that there is always a better way to do things, and I love learning about them, so thank you again for taking the time to post an in-depth explanation for various things that I overlooked!

  15. Catherine M
    August 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    nice steps - sharing with my hubby & my pinterest tech page.
    Wish you would give points for sharing on pinterest!

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