If you operate a Windows based PC and regularly surf the Internet, it is likely that at some point your computer will get infected with a virus, malware, spyware or some type of malicious file. Although there are numerous commercial malware removal programs for sale, your first option should be to attempt to fix the problem using free software provided by Microsoft.
Microsoft is an international computer software corporation that is best known for developing the Windows operating system for home computers. With each version of Windows, Microsoft provides support via updates for the life of the product, which include its own malware removal software, Malicious Software Removal Tool.
The Malicious Software Removal Tool is free for everyone that has purchased a licensed copy of Windows versions 2000, Server 2003, Vista, XP, or 7. You must ensure that all driver software on the computer, including Windows, is up to date.
A new version of the Malicious Software Removal Tool is released on the second Tuesday of every month, so first visit the Microsoft Update page (see Resources) to ensure that you are using the latest version. The easiest way to run the tool is to verify that Windows Automatic Updates is turned on. Click on the "Start" button and then click on the "Control Panel" icon to open a new window. Click on the "Security Center" icon. The Windows Security Center window will open allowing you to verify that the Automatic Updates, Firewall, and Virus Protection options are all turned on.
Once you have Automatic Updates turned on, the Malicious Software Removal Tool will run in quiet mode, which gives no indication that it is running. If it detects any software that is malicious, you will be notified via a balloon pop-up the next time you sign-on to the computer. If any suspicious files are found, you will be informed of the infected files, and the software will prompt you to perform a full scan. This scan can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours, depending on how fast your computer runs and how much data is stored on your hard drive.
If any infected files are found, the software will prompt you to remove the malicious files. You can decide to clean any infected files the tool finds in a group, or go through them one by one. Once the entire scan has finished, the Malicious Software Removal Tool will ask you to restart your computer to complete the process.