10 Signs Your Computer Has A Virus (& What To Do About It)

Comprehensive antivirus software packages are becoming more expensive. With new and more complicated malicious software being released daily, knowing how to detect and remove viruses from a PC without antivirus software is a life-saving skill every computer user needs. Computer viruses, just like human viruses, target the most vital parts that a computer needs to function.


Most modern malware are sneaky and may not be detected until after they cause damage to the computer which is why activating the operating system’s defenses at all times is important. PC owners can still detect activity and remove viruses even without antivirus software when they are vigilant. Using the Safe Mode after detecting virus activity is still the easiest way to expose malware and safely delete them through system settings without antivirus software.

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Frequent Crashes

Blue screen of death on a Windows laptop

Malware can cause programs on the computer to fail and crash as they compete for CPU and memory resources. Some malware also overloads the PC causing frequent screen freezes or a total system crash. These are often information-hungry malware that eats through any program that loads on the computer seeking to steal vital information.

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When a computer crashes frequently or programs fail to load properly, the best action is to start the PC in safe mode and eliminate the virus. Safe Mode allows only a few vital programs to load at startup locking out malware which makes it easier to locate them when the user checks all the installed programs on the computer through the system manager. Safe mode can be accessed by restarting the affected computer and then pressing the Shift button at the restart until the windows/Apple button appears and then following the safe boot prompts.

Slow Operation

A Screenshot Of A Blank Windows Screen

Unless a new demanding program or update has been installed by the user, there is no reason why a computer should suddenly become slow. Hungry malware often uses lots of CPU and memory resources, and they can be identified by checking the Activity monitor or the Task Manager for Microsoft Windows computers.

Any program with an unknown publisher using up lots of CPU and memory could be malware. Right-clicking on the process and searching online will give the details on whether the suspicious process is malware activity in which case the user can proceed to shut down the process and then uninstall the program that initiated the process in the app/program manager.

Being Locked Out Of Your Computer

A Screenshot Of A Ransonware Attack

The owner can be locked from accessing their computer through a screen locking or file-encrypting ransomware. Some may also be fake ransom notes, so users need to take a screenshot of the ransom note and check online for information on the attack. The first course of action is disconnecting the infected computer from the internet and any other computers and external drives they may be connected to.

To bypass the screen lock, users need to use command prompt action or task manager using ctrl+alt+del action to shut down the malware-causing [process. The user can then delete the program by uninstalling it through the command prompt action using Admin privileges. If files are encrypted by ransomware, recovery is possible because the virus only encrypts files and then deletes the originals. Using a data recovery tool to restore deleted files or decrypting software to restore the encrypted files after identifying the ransomware should solve the problem.

Files Disappearing Or Turning Into Shortcuts

Screenshot of a Shortcut Virus attack

These are the most common types of Trojan attacks often caused by attached malware to files downloaded from unsafe sources or external storage devices plugged into infected computers. The malware encrypts files and leaves a shortcut resembling the original files which then multiplies the virus if the user clicks on the shortcut.

To remove the virus on Windows computers, owners need to use windows explorer to identify the Letter identifying the drive containing the virus and then delete the virus and recover files using command prompt action.

Unsolicited Homepage Changes

A Screenshot Of The Buzz-It-Virus-Attack-1

All browsing starts from the homepage which is why malware that targets it can easily take control of any website a user visits using the computer. When the homepage of a browser is under attack, it often switches to malicious websites or produces error messages whenever the user tries to browse the internet. Homepage attacks can be easily stopped by reverting the browser settings to default and removing extensions that create home page shortcuts.

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For Chrome users, it is always safe to set the home page to show a new tab and not use any extensions for the search box. As for the search engine, the user should use the default or trusted search engines and not the search engines set by extensions. After reverting the home page to default settings, the owner has to delete all cache data which is where the viruses often hide. Clearing browsing data is part of the settings of all web browsers and the easiest way to delete virus-carrying cache files.

Spam Pop-Ups

A Computer Attacked By Spam Pop Ups

Spam pop-ups are caused by a type of computer virus called adware. When attacked by adware, it is safe to disconnect the computer from the internet to prevent further virus spread. If the pop-ups are in the browser, then they can be blocked by going to settings and then the privacy settings tab in chrome or the Websites tab in Safari and then proceeding to block pop-ups.

For pop-ups that come from adware installed on the computer, the user has to access them in the apps/programs tab in settings and then uninstall them using the Admin command prompt action. Clearing all browsing data and resetting the browser to default will then delete the adware file from the computer.

Spam Emails And Posts From Your Accounts

A Screenshot Of The Gmail Spam Email Folder

Cybercriminals use legitimate accounts to attack people with spam emails from accounts belonging to unsuspecting users to make them appear more legitimate which results in recipients being more likely to click on them. It is important to invest in a reliable password manager that can prevent spyware from tracking your details when you log into your accounts.

In case you notice suspicious emails in your outbox or receive reports from other people about your account sending spam emails, the first corrective action is to log out of all devices and then change passwords and enhance security using two-factor authentication. The biggest culprits are spyware either installed as an extension in the browser or a suspicious app on the computer that loads alongside the browser and tracks browsing data. They can all be removed using the aforementioned procedures.

Sudden Loss Of Disc Space

Insufficient Disc Space On A Windows Screen

Worms are a type of computer virus that consumes space by filling the drive with unending versions of their replications. These viruses don’t show up in regular file-explorer searches, and they can even hide in system-restore files and show up after you reinstall the operating system.

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The best way to remove them is by updating Windows Security and then doing a full scan of the computer after rebooting the PC in Safe Mode. When scanned in safe mode, viruses will be exposed allowing the operating System’s security to detect and delete.

Rapid Battery Draining

A Screenshot if Low Battery Notification On Windows

When a computer has viruses, the system gets overloaded with processes causing the CPU to work harder which in turn causes battery-draining conditions such as overheating and increased fan speed. They cause even the most durable batteries to fail quickly.

The best way to catch them is to launch the Task Manager or activity monitor and isolate programs taking up most PC resources. Shutting down the process in the task manager and then uninstalling the program in safe mode will solve the problem.

Mysterious Disappearing Pop-Up Windows

Mysterious Dissapearing Windows Pop Ups Screenshot

When viruses run stealthily in the background, sometimes they bring pop-up windows on the screen that then disappear immediately. If such windows show up, it is important to take stock of all the processes running on the computer by going back to the task manager and stopping them.

Users should also check the programs on the computer to ensure that only legitimately installed and updated apps including idle PC games are running on the computer. Any unsolicited process in the background should be shut down in the task manager and the program removed in safe mode unless it is clearly labeled as system activity.

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