How to Delete a Virus Without an Anti-virus Program

By Jason Artman

If a virus has made your computer unstable or is preventing you from connecting to the Internet, it may not be possible to download and install antivirus software to delete the malicious program. Deleting malware without antivirus software is often very difficult because programmers use a variety of methods to make malicious applications hard to find and remove. However, some general tips are available that you can use to manually remove certain types of viruses and get your computer back to a usable state so you can install an antivirus program.

Step 1

Press the "Ctrl," "Alt" and "Delete" keys simultaneously and then click "Start Task Manager." The Task Manager application opens. Click the "Processes" tab at the top of the window to display all the processes currently running on your computer. If you see an unfamiliar process, look it up on a search engine, if you are able to connect to the Internet. Repeat for each process until you identify the malicious program. Click the program and then click the "End Process" button to terminate it.

Step 2

Open the "Start" menu and type "msconfig" in the search box. Press "Enter" to launch the "System Configuration" utility. Click the "Startup" tab at the top of the window. This tab displays the applications that run automatically when the computer starts. Try to locate the process that you terminated in Step 1. If you locate the process, remove the check mark from the box next to it, and note the path and file name shown in the "Command" column. Click "OK" to close the utility. Do not restart the computer. If you could not find the process, close the utility and continue.

Step 3

Open the "Start" menu again and type "regedit" in the search field. Press "Enter" to display the Registry Editor. Use the folders on the left side of the screen to navigate to the following four areas in the registry:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunOnceHKEY_CURRENT_USER/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunHKEY_CURRENT_USER/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunOnceThese registry areas display the programs that run automatically when the computer boots up. If you were unable to find the malicious process in the System Configuration utility, you should be able to find it in one of these areas. Make a note of the path and file name shown in the "Data" column, then right-click the registry and select "Delete" to remove it.

Step 4

Open the "Start" menu and click "Computer." Navigate to the path on your hard drive that you noted in Step 2 or Step 3 using the Windows Explorer window. Right-click the malicious file, then click "Delete" to remove it from your computer.

Step 5

Restart the computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • The steps in this article are general instructions that you can use to remove some types of viruses. Once you have found the file or process infecting your computer, you may be able to obtain more specific instructions for manual removal by searching for that process online.
  • Some viruses are nearly impossible to remove from your computer manually. For example, rootkits are especially problematic because they cannot be viewed from within the operating system. Install an antivirus program immediately after restoring your computer to a usable state.