How To Remove Computer Viruses At Home For Free

virus   How To Remove Computer Viruses At Home For FreeTo the average computer user, contracting a virus is like contracting a rare disease – it brings life to a halt, it is expensive to remove, and worst of all, the probability of catching a virus is much higher than that of catching a serious disease.

After the dreaded infection, removal procedures usually include taking the computer to a service center, where technicians charge hundreds of dollars to remove the virus. But what many users don’t know is that viruses are actually not very difficult to deal with.

In fact, there are hoards of free tools on the internet that make it simple enough to remove viruses for free, for anyone with even a bit of technical savvy. These tools render spending ridiculous sums of money for a virus removal a thing of the past.


The bulk of the work is brute forcing: repeatedly attacking the virus with different scans until it gives into deletion. If you have a decent amount of time on your hands, virus removal becomes a very simple process.

dock thumb   How To Remove Computer Viruses At Home For Free

The first step to remove viruses for free is backing up your data. At work, I usually take the hard drive out of the computer and use a hard drive dock (pictured above) to back data up on our servers. This is the safest method of backing up files, since the traditional method of backing up your files to an external hard drive yields a higher chance of the viruses copying themselves onto your external.

However, not many people own a hard drive dock, so in a pinch, you could try uploading your files to a cloud based storage system, like Dropbox. If you do want to invest in a dock, though, the cheapest one I found online was $20.

Once you have your data backed up, you can begin running virus scans on your computer. First, boot your computer into safe mode. Each manufacturer has a different F-key for boot up options, but the most common one is F8. A quick Google search should tell you which F-key is the one your computer uses to boot into safe mode. Make sure, when you are selecting which mode to boot into, that you pick the safe mode with networking, since we will be running both online and software scans.

From here on out, I will simply list tried and true scanners that I use on a daily basis (also check out Justin’s recent article on the 10 best free anti-virus programs). The procedure for each is the same: download the installer, install it onto your computer, make sure you update the definitions, and then let it run (always select FULL scan). Once you’ve completed the scan, make sure you uninstall the program before you install and run the next one.

mse thumb1   How To Remove Computer Viruses At Home For Free

Anti-Virus Softwares

1. Malwarebytes

2. A Squared

3. Microsoft Security Essentials

4. AVG Free

5. Spybot Search and Destroy

The procedure for running online scanners is exactly the same as running software scanners, except that instead of downloading an installer, you will simply be downloading a plug-in.

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Online Scanners

1. Panda ActiveScan

2. Bitdefender

3. ESET

Usually, by the time you’ve made your way through the above list, you should be receiving clean reports from your anti-virus scans. Sometimes, you will encounter a virus that is particularly difficult to remove, but if you have already identified it, Bitdefender hosts a bevy of free removal tools for specific viruses. Otherwise, there are dozens of other, equally effective anti-virus tools on the internet: for example, Avast and Avira. Just follow the same process as above, and you should be good to go.

The last resort, if all else fails, would be to reformat your computer. However, if you must settle for this option, rest assured knowing that your data is already backed up, and, since the procedure you just went through is the same as the one many computer repair shops use, that you probably would have been told to reformat anyways.

Do you have any trusted virus removal tools, or any pro tips for other users wishing to keep their computers infection-free? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit : Nils Geylen

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24 Comments -

JK III

I think the most important thing is to prevent the virus from infecting your machine in the first place. And it is easier than removing the virus. After removing viruses from my friends’ computers, I detail them on prevention methods and install necessary tools. But alas, they still screw it up.

PS: The Disqus registration box is really annoying.

JK III

I think the most important thing is to prevent the virus from infecting your machine in the first place. And it is easier than removing the virus. After removing viruses from my friends’ computers, I detail them on prevention methods and install necessary tools. But alas, they still screw it up.

PS: The Disqus registration box is really annoying.

Ivan Kolevski

Here’s my procedure of removing viruses.

1. Use Linux LiveCD or installed OS to backup personal data on ext.HDD.
2. Disable system restore and run Antivirus.Antimalware app in safe mode.
3. If you can not install Anti Virus you’ll have to run RescueCD Virus Removal.
4. I run first virus removal stage on Linux with Bit Defender, Avast, Avira.
5. Also don’t forget to scan the ext.HDD and the data that you just backed up.
6. When finished run from cmd sfc /scannow and chkdsk /r/f to repair any corrupted files.
7. Check all running services and compare with Viper’s online database.
8. Copy data back on unit and run final full scan.

This is the method that I’ve been using for the last 4/5 years and has never ever failed me, not even once. Of course, in some cases you’re just better of to just backup data and re-install OS.

Hope this helps,

Regards,
Ivan Kolevski

Aibek

Indeed, some solid steps here. thanks for share!

Aibek

Aibek

Indeed, some solid steps here. thanks for share!

Aibek

Scott_T

There’s a few bootable cd AV’s too. F-secure and AVG have ones. Of course you have to make them before you get infected since lots of viruses and spywares will end up killing your internet or making your computer unbootable sometimes.

rkv

the best method IMO is use a standalone version of antivirus…

http://devbuilds.kaspersky-labs.com/devbuilds/AVPTool/

this one is the best and free!

rkv

the best method IMO is use a standalone version of antivirus…

http://devbuilds.kaspersky-lab

this one is the best and free!

Kay Chapman Stahly

I use Spywareblaster before I have the problems. I also use Spybot Search and Destroy host file list before I have problems. They seem to do a good job at blocking most things. Another tool that I have found invaluable is Hijack This! when I’m checking things out. WinPatrol is another tool that I keep running. If I start having issues, one of the first things I do is consult Scottie.

Leon

Online armour is effective at helping you monitor what is happening on the machine. Puppy Linux is useful for backing up data. Malwarebytes is great too. Thanks for interesting article and comments!

bruno

All of these methods count on AV software detecting malware which often fails to detect the hard ones (mostly rootkits). When AV fails, I suggest asking for help at bleeping computer or other malware removal forum. Or if you are (or know somebody) skilled with tools like RootRepeal, DDS, Combofix etc. you can clean the malware much more effectively without hours of scanning.

Anonymous

Interesting that you would recommend spending what amount to hours of your free time “attempting” to save a couple hundred bucks having a professional do it.

One caveat to the above procedure: Most new wave rougue trojans that mask as fake antivirus software are resilent and if not removed properly, will reinfect your system. Most of these originate from third world and eastern european nations with the intent of stealing your identity, so its very important to remove them as soon and as effectively as possible, before accessing any sites that require login and passwords.

tommedeiros

Interesting that you would recommend spending what amount to hours of your free time “attempting” to save a couple hundred bucks having a professional do it.

One caveat to the above procedure: Most new wave rougue trojans that mask as fake antivirus software are resilent and if not removed properly, will reinfect your system. Most of these originate from third world and eastern european nations with the intent of stealing your identity, so its very important to remove them as soon and as effectively as possible, before accessing any sites that require login and passwords.

GMan

One of the first things I do is check the System32 (make sure show system and hidden files etc is on) folder, sorted by date, for recent files with suspicious names (E.G. 7fcx5evd.dll). If you hover over files your’e not sure about, it will tell you the name of the publisher more often than not. If found, delete all temporary files (userprofilelocal settingstemporary internet files windowstemp etc, as this is where most of the cruft related to these dodgy DLLs hide.
If it’s badly infected at this point, I might bother with a System Restore to try and undo some of the changes.
Then reboot in safe mode.
Open Regedit and browse to the ‘Run’ key in both HKLM and HKCU and remove any suspect entries.
Download MBAM, renaming the installer as it is saved to the computer.
Run the renamed installer and then download the random filename generated executable from the MBAM site. UPDATE MBAM!
Let it do a full scan and remove anything it finds.
Sometimes system files and associations get corrupted. sfc /scannow, should fix original windows files and following advice at dougknox DOT com will restore the correct file associations.
Keep an eye on the System32 folder as above and make sure any suspect DLLs are gone.
SpywareBlaster is excellent as mentioned earlier.
Use Firefox with NoScript if you are a noob :) and never, NEVER accept gifts from the internet! DON’T disable UAC even though your hip friends recommend doing so.
BleepingComputer is also great for stubborn malware advice, although if it is that stubborn, I often think a rebuild is better, especially if it’s a noob/parents PC.
Messy braindump, sorry. Hope it helps

Aibek

thank you GMan! some really nice tips here.

Aibek

GMan

One of the first things I do is check the System32 (make sure show system and hidden files etc is on) folder, sorted by date, for recent files with suspicious names (E.G. 7fcx5evd.dll). If you hover over files your’e not sure about, it will tell you the name of the publisher more often than not. If found, delete all temporary files (userprofile\local settings\temporary internet files windows\temp etc, as this is where most of the cruft related to these dodgy DLLs hide.
If it’s badly infected at this point, I might bother with a System Restore to try and undo some of the changes.
Then reboot in safe mode.
Open Regedit and browse to the ‘Run’ key in both HKLM and HKCU and remove any suspect entries.
Download MBAM, renaming the installer as it is saved to the computer.
Run the renamed installer and then download the random filename generated executable from the MBAM site. UPDATE MBAM!
Let it do a full scan and remove anything it finds.
Sometimes system files and associations get corrupted. sfc /scannow, should fix original windows files and following advice at dougknox DOT com will restore the correct file associations.
Keep an eye on the System32 folder as above and make sure any suspect DLLs are gone.
SpywareBlaster is excellent as mentioned earlier.
Use Firefox with NoScript if you are a noob :) and never, NEVER accept gifts from the internet! DON’T disable UAC even though your hip friends recommend doing so.
BleepingComputer is also great for stubborn malware advice, although if it is that stubborn, I often think a rebuild is better, especially if it’s a noob/parents PC.
Messy braindump, sorry. Hope it helps

GMan

Forgot to mention.
If you are a noob (although I use it too), you can just get the AVG LinkScanner component which you can use in tandem with your AV if it doesn’t do it.
The following 3 tips will most likely prevent you from ever getting infected in the first place:

1) Use Firefox with NoScript, training NoScript as you go, combined with AVG LinkScanner (or similar).

2) If you download a file from the internet (email/torrent/website/whatever) scan it BEFORE running it, ALWAYS. Microsoft provide free AV now, so there’s no excuse! Or you can use the online scanners (jotti for example)

3) If you’re not expecting a parcel from UPS or you don’t bank with Barclays, don’t even touch emails reporting to be from them. Better still, turn off HTML in your email client. If you must follow a link in an email, check the REAL destination in the status bar first, or preferably, manually go to the website and log in with your credentials to see if the email is confirmed there.

4) OK, I said 3. Never run as an administrator and make sure UAC is on.

GMan

Forgot to mention.
If you are a noob (although I use it too), you can just get the AVG LinkScanner component which you can use in tandem with your AV if it doesn’t do it.
The following 3 tips will most likely prevent you from ever getting infected in the first place:

1) Use Firefox with NoScript, training NoScript as you go, combined with AVG LinkScanner (or similar).

2) If you download a file from the internet (email/torrent/website/whatever) scan it BEFORE running it, ALWAYS. Microsoft provide free AV now, so there’s no excuse! Or you can use the online scanners (jotti for example)

3) If you’re not expecting a parcel from UPS or you don’t bank with Barclays, don’t even touch emails reporting to be from them. Better still, turn off HTML in your email client. If you must follow a link in an email, check the REAL destination in the status bar first, or preferably, manually go to the website and log in with your credentials to see if the email is confirmed there.

4) OK, I said 3. Never run as an administrator and make sure UAC is on.

Aibek

thank you GMan! some really nice tips here.

Aibek

biber hapı

Good to have bumped onto your blog and met you.

Ollie

Why do you uninstall the program after you’ve scanned it? So does that mean every time I do a scan, I need to run the installer over again just to scan, and the uninstall it? Why not keep all the programs installed?

Thank you

Ollie

Why do you uninstall the program after you’ve scanned it? So does that mean every time I do a scan, I need to run the installer over again just to scan, and the uninstall it? Why not keep all the programs installed?

Thank you

Computer Repair Geek

I think Avira free edition will resolve your issues. If that does not work you can always call Geeks in Minutes

Mehter

thanks for share. good writing.