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You downloaded a software program or you visited an low-trust webpage and now, all of a sudden, your Windows PC is unbearably slow, struggling to carry out even the most basic of tasks. Well, blame it on malware and viruses in the form of scripts, software or code that can ruin your Windows experience in a blink of an eye.
Thankfully, there are ways to carry out a Windows virus removal procedure and do it for free as well. These steps are detailed below.
Carrying out these steps will ensure that your Windows PC is always free of viruses and malware.
Another note you must remember is that some of the following Windows anti-malware and anti-virus programs basically carry out the same function. However, the point to be noted is that almost all of these programs have a different database of malware and virus definitions that they are programmed to tackle. In other words, some of these programs might be able to find and eliminate virus and malware that another program might not be able to. Thus, it makes sense to install even two programs from the same category.
First things first – Are you using your inbuilt Windows anti-malware and anti-virus tool called Windows Defender?
Windows, be it Windows 7 or Windows 8, gives you a firewall, anti-virus and anti-malware module in Windows Defender that will help you not just cleanup viruses and malware but also prevent them from entering your PC in the first place.
Though it is easily available, the surprising fact is that many amateur Windows users have no idea it exists, with them often leaving it disabled! Here’s how to change that.
To open Windows Defender
Click on Start -> Search -> Defender -> Choose & Run Windows Defender
If your Windows PC does not have Defender installed, you can download it for free by downloading the correct version of Microsoft Security Essentials at this link here. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-all-versions
Coming back to Windows Defender, before you run it, you must make sure it is up to date. Go to the update tab (as shown in picture) to update Defender with the latest malware definitions file.
Once Defender has updated, we recommend that you run a full scan. Please remember that a full scan will take a long time, a time that will depend on your PC performance and the number of files and programs you have installed on it. Since it can run minimized and in the background, you can always run it and continue on with your work.Full scans can be run maybe once in two months or so. Generally however, for routine maintenance scans, you can keep running the quick scan every week or every two weeks as it will finish in just a few minutes.
There is also a custom scan that will allow you to choose particular drives and folders, useful for when you want to scan an external hard drive or just a single partition.
Enforcing other default Windows security features
Once Defender has given your PC a clean chit with its scan, it is now time to make sure that your PC is always protected with a Microsoft provided firewall.
To do this, go to Control Panel -> System and Security -> Security -> Action Center and ensure that the network firewall, Windows update, virus protection, spyware and unwanted software protection, internet security settings, user account control and Windows SmartScreen are all set to “on” or “enabled”.
Use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Software
Malwarebytes is a free to use software, available for instant download here, one that is wildly popular among Windows PC users. With over 129 Million downloads and rave reviews, Malwarebytes is currently the most used anti-malware scan and cleanup software in the world.
What is really impressive about Malwarebytes is that it is updated almost every day, meaning that even new malware that just came out yesterday or the day before doesn’t stand a chance to stay on your PC.
The free version only allows you to scan and remove malware that has already entered your Windows PC. If you can however afford just $29, you can get the Pro or paid version that will offer you real time protection as well.
The paid version also allows you to use a scheduler, to automatically run Malwarebytes on a certain schedule that you set. With this, you can set the run pattern just once and forget about ever checking your Windows PC for virus and malware threats again.
One $29.99 purchase gives you a 1 year subscription for three licenses that can be used on three computers. A small price to pay to keep your PC infection free.
Apart from Malwarebytes, SpywareBlaster, another free program, is an excellent anti-malware cleanup tool. We would recommend that you install both Malwarebytes and SpywareBlaster and keep running alternative scans on each of them. SpywareBlaster is available for a free download here.
Install a free Windows antivirus program
Though you might have thought that only Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and other paid antivirus programs have what it takes to efficiently keep viruses at bay on your Windows PC, the fact of the matter is that free antivirus programs are just as good as these paid programs. In fact, there are several Internet debates that the following free antivirus programs are better than their paid counterparts.
Either way, if you still don’t have an antivirus installed on your Windows PC, you can at least download and install one of these free antivirus programs right away, in a just a few minutes.
Most popular free Windows anti-virus programs
- AVG Free AntiVirus – 509 + Million downloads – Download here
- Ad-Aware Free Antivirus – 384 + Million downloads – Download here
- Avast Free Antivirus – 303 + Million downloads – Download here
- Avira Free Antivirus – 145+ Million downloads – Download here
How to prevent malware and viruses from entering your Windows PC?
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. While Malwarebytes and the other antivirus and anti-malware programs mentioned above will cleanup your system and rid it off any malware or viruses that might be affecting the PC, it is important for you to understand how you can prevent such attacks in the first place.
Here are some pointers on how to prevent malware and virus attacks
Avoid Links and attachments in emails from unknown senders
If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, just ignore it, especially if the email comes with a link or attachment.
Such emails will usually have very tempting text that will try to make you believe that clicking on a link will allow you to see an unbelivably interesting article or win some prize or one of those usual traps that people on the internet still continue to fall for
Avoid visiting websites that come with a malware warning
If you have your Windows Defender and Windows SmartScreen both turned on like we told you in the beginning of the article, you will sometimes notice that you will get a warning message (like the one shown in the picture) that a website can be potentially malicious, when you try to open it with your browser. If this ever happens, do not visit that webpage and never try to open it again as just visiting the site will result in the download of malware
The last thing you want to do is proceed to a website that throws up this warning from your firewall
Sometimes, on rare occasions, a website that you know and trust might come up with this warning. When that happens, just refresh the webpage several times and the warning will usually go away. The warning will however never go away on sites that are truly a malware threat though.
Avoid downloading pirated software
Torrentz and other popular peer sharing sites are rife with free downloads of software that usually cost a lot of money to buy. You shouldn’t downloads such programs for a couple of reasons. First of all, downloading pirated software is illegal and grounds for some serious punishment from the law.
Secondly, downloading such pirated software will often result in the simultaneous download of malware programs as well. Such downloads will usually come with add-on modules like activators, serial generators and other executable files that will serve a dual purpose, one to make the software you are downloading work and the other to install malware that will do things like send important information from your computer through the internet.
If you have to download such pirated software, make sure you at least run a full system scan with one of the antivirus or anti-malware programs suggested earlier.
Always scan flash drives and external hard drives before you copy or install from them
It is a well known fact that pen drives or flash drives often carry worms, worms of the electronic kind. Whenever you are about to plugin in a flash drive or external hard disk that your friend or someone else brought over, give it a full scan.
You will be doing yourself and your friend a favor by identifying and eliminating potential virus and malware threats that might be stored on the portable storage device.
Avoid optional downloads while downloading and installing programs
Even when you are downloading something legitimate, you must lookout for optional spyware downloads that will be bundled into the installation process of that legitimate software.
The most common culprit when it comes to such downloads is the search bar program installation that is nothing but malware on most occasions. Such add on check boxes are usually small in size and placed discreetly on the installation window.
Since most users are excited about a legitimate download, they often leave such add-on installations checked, resulting in the quick installation of nosy programs that will slowly ruin your Windows PC experience.
Even if you were to carry out all the installations, scans and fixes suggested above, it won’t take you more than an half an hour or an hour at the most. However, this half hour investment of your time will ensure that your Windows PC essentially remains virus and malware free for the remainder of its life, if you do it right!
If you have any additional tips or know about other freeware that is great to keep your Windows PC secure, please drop us your opinions and comments via the comment box below. We look forward to hearing from you!