Recovering from a virus or other malware
Your aim is to update your antivirus software then isolate your computer so that the malware doesn’t spread. You can then start the computer in ‘SafeMode’ and remove the virus.
- Make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Sometimes the automatic updating doesn’t work reliably, or a paid subscription to an antivirus program might have expired. If downloads aren’t working correctly, try getting the latest update from the antivirus software manufacturer’s website.
- Now disconnect your computer from the network (including wireless networks). This will isolate it, preventing it from sending or receiving any more data; it cannot infect any more machines, nor can it receive data from elsewhere.
- Restart the computer and start it in ‘SafeMode’ – on a Windows computer, press the F8 key as soon as the computer restarts and hold it down until the ‘Advanced Boot Options’ menu appears. Choose ‘SafeMode’, (not ‘SafeMode with Networking’. ‘SafeMode’ is a special setting on the computer which restricts the number of applications that can run and stops it talking to networks even if they are plugged in. ‘SafeMode’ stops most malware from doing more damage to your computer.
- When the computer finishes booting, open your antivirus software and tell it to perform a complete scan of the disk. This will take a considerable amount of time! At the end of the process, the antivirus program will report what it has found. It might also make recommendations about how to deal with the problem – follow its suggestions. When the virus scan is complete, restart your computer as normal.
Once you have completed these steps, spend a few minutes thinking about how the malware might have got on to your computer. Did you visit a suspicious website, download a suspicious program or simply click on an attachment in an email message? These are common ways to receive malware, so think about what you can do differently to prevent it happening again.