How to Remove a Computer Virus

By Techwalla Computers Editor

A virus can enter your computer through numerous hosts, including infected executable files (such as programs or installers) and documents with attached scripts and emails. If you don't want your computer to fail you at an inopportune time, you should know how to remove a computer virus.

Things You'll Need

  • Antivirus software

Step 1

Update your virus definitions. If the virus is relatively new, your existing virus definitions may not detect it. Variations of older viruses, designed to evade detection, are also more easily detected with updated definitions.

Step 2

Update your antivirus program. Before some viruses can be detected, an update to the antivirus program is required. Check the antivirus software for an automatic update feature or visit the program's website to find updates.

Step 3

Scan your computer for viruses. Doing a full scan can take a long time, so it's better to leave the computer and come back when it's finished. If you know which virus you have and which files it's infected, you can do a specialized scan of those files. That may remove that one virus, but you should then perform a full scan to detect others.

Step 4

Remove the virus. Your antivirus program should do this automatically or with little interaction from you. Some files may be repaired, meaning the virus has been removed without harming the file. However, others may have to be removed or "quarantined" in a special folder or archive where they can't do any harm.

Step 5

Repair the damage. Look at the list of infected files and try to restore any files you need. If they are executable files, reinstall the program that contained them. If they're document files, request new copies from the person who sent them to you. Scan and repair them before opening.

Tips & Warnings

  • Inform anyone you may have inadvertently sent the virus to, or anyone who may have sent it to you so they also can perform an antivirus scan. Stopping the spread of the virus is as important as removing it. If someone sends you more infected files, you could end up with the same infection all over again.