Viruses are nasty pieces of code that find their way into your computer and cause havoc. They come in all shapes and sizes and usually disguise themselves as harmless emails or programs to get you to download them. The main purpose of a virus is usually to replicate itself and either send your personal information to someone or corrupt your files, making them inaccessible to you.
Today, when people say “computer virus”, the term usually includes all forms of malware, from viruses and worms to rootkits and spyware. While it is possible to live your life entirely without ever having to deal with one, the chances are very slim and you should know what to do when one is found on your computer.
Is There a Virus on My Computer?
First, you need to scan your computer to search for any form of malware. Make sure you have a very strong antivirus software that includes in-depth scanning of all files on your device. Full scans can take a while, so don’t worry if it doesn’t finish after only a couple of minutes. The security suite will literally scan every single file on your computer and search for files that look like or contain known threats. Some security suites use behavioral detection, which allows the program to search for possible threats based on how files behave. This is a great feature because it does not only rely on a list of known threats.
Certain threats can be too new to be on these lists, and identifying them based on how they behave can help you detect them before they do any damage.
Clean, Quarantine, or Delete
Once a threat is detected, your antivirus software will ask you what you want to do with it. It is important to understand your options and not automatically delete all threats, which seems like the natural thing to do for most people.
If you choose “Clean”, the antivirus will try to remove the threat from the file. This option only works if the file itself is not a virus but is actually a legitimate file “infected” with bad code. This option will not work on trojans or worms because the file itself is the problem and cannot be cleaned.
Quarantine allows you to play it safe by simply moving the problematic file to a safe location created and managed by your antivirus. It will be prevented from taking any action and your computer will be safe from any threats in quarantine.
The “Delete” option is very straightforward and simply deletes the file from the system.
To play it safe, choose to clean first if you don’t know what sort of virus it is. If the antivirus is unable to clean the virus, quarantine it just in case you need to recover it later on. Use the delete option only if the antivirus program specifically recommends it.
Play it Safe
Once you have gotten rid of virus on computer, make sure you are ready for next time. Back up all of your files, so that you never lose anything important and always have a strong security suite installed on your computer to prevent new threats from being downloaded.