How-To Geek

How to Remove Viruses and Malware on Your Windows PC

Whether you saw a message saying a virus was detected, or your computer just seems slow and unreliable, you’ll want to scan for malware on your PC and remove any you find.

While many viruses and other types of malware are designed simply to cause chaos, more and more malware is created by organized crime to steal credit card numbers, online banking credentials, and other sensitive data.

Did Your Antivirus Say a Virus Was Detected?

If you saw a message pop up that says a virus was detected, that’s a good thing. Your antivirus noticed a virus and likely removed it without prompting you.

This sort of message doesn’t mean that you ever had a virus running on your computer. You could have downloaded a file that contained a virus and your antivirus removed the file before it could ever cause a problem. Or, a malicious file on an infected web page could have been noticed and dealt with before it caused any problems.

In other words, a “virus detected” message that occurs during normal use of your computer doesn’t mean the virus actually did anything. If you see a message like this, you’re likely visiting an infected web page or downloading a harmful file. Try to avoid doing that in the future, but don’t worry too much.

You can also open your antivirus program and check its quarantine or its virus detection logs. This will show you more information about what virus was detected and what the antivirus did with it. Of course, if you aren’t sure, go ahead and run a scan–it couldn’t hurt.

How to Scan for Malware (and Remove It)

To check your computer for malware and remove any malware you find, you’ll need an antivirus program. Windows 10 and 8 include Windows Defender, Microsoft’s own antivirus. Windows 7 doesn’t include any build-in antivirus.

Windows Defender is non-intrusive and fine overall, but it’s not the only option. Our favorite antivirus programs are the free Avira antivirus and the paid Kaspersky antivirus, depending on whether you want a free antivirus or you’re willing to pay for one. Windows Defender works as a great secondary scanner (which we’ll talk about later in this piece).

Run a system scan using the antivirus program–it should automatically do this right after you install it– and it will inspect your hard drive for malware. It’ll automatically remove–or offer to remove–any malware it finds. Your antivirus program of choice will also run in the background, checking files before you open them to ensure they’re safe and monitoring your system to ensure no malware is running. Make sure it’s always turned on and running, because if it isn’t, it can’t protect you.

If your antivirus scanner is bloated and slowing down your computer, we highly recommend one of the above–they’re all fairly lightweight and easy to use.

If a Simple Scan Wasn’t Able to Get Rid of the Malware

If you have a very stubborn malware infection, you may need to scan for malware from outside your normal Windows system. To do that, you’ll need to Boot Windows into Safe Mode, which will keep it from loading normal startup applications–including, hopefully, that nasty malware. Run the antivirus from within Safe Mode and it may have more luck removing malware it normally can’t.

To boot into Safe Mode on Windows 8 or 10, press and hold the Shift key while clicking the “Restart” option and then navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Windows Startup Settings > Restart > Safe Mode. On Windows 7, press the F8 key while your computer is starting and you’ll see a boot options menu that allows you to select “Safe Mode”.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to step completely outside of Windows and use a bootable antivirus tool. This type of antivirus tool boots into a clean environment–entirely outside Windows–to find and remove stubborn malware you may not be able to see or remove from within Windows itself.

Windows Defender itself can do this with the “Windows Defender Offline” feature if you’re using Windows 10. You can check out our guide to using Windows Defender Offline here. Other antivirus software can do this too–look for antivirus “boot discs” like the Avira Rescue System and Kaspersky Rescue Disk. You can check out our guide to using Avira’s Rescue System here.

How to Get a Second Opinion From Windows Defender

If you already have an antivirus program installed, but you think you may have viruses it isn’t detecting, you can get a second opinion from another antivirus product. Usually, it’s a bad idea to run two antivirus programs in tandem, since their real-time scanning can conflict with one another. But if you have one running real-time scanning all the time, you can use a second one you for occasional manual scans.

On Windows 10, Windows Defender is perfect for this. Even if you have another antivirus program installed that’s monitoring your system, Windows Defender can occasionally scan on a schedule–or manually scan when you choose–to see if it can find anything your current antivirus is missing. Here’s a guide to enabling and using that option.

A variety of other antivirus providers make one-time scanning tools available–for example, the ESET Online Scanner. These programs will download to your computer and do a quick scan without a long installation process.

If the scanner alerts you to a problem, you’ll want to remove the malware. If you had a virus, your current antivirus may not be up to the job. You may want to uninstall it and install another antivirus product after the process is complete.

You Should Also Install Malwarebytes to Deal With Adware and Other Junk

As we mentioned in our guide to the best antivirus programs, antivirus isn’t enough–you should also have a more inclusive anti-malware program. Not all nasty software is covered by normal antivirus scanners, which mainly search for harmful infections. You may have “junkware” on your system like browser toolbars, search engine changers, Bitcoin miners, and other types of obnoxious programs that just exist to make their creator money. Watch out when downloading programs from the web, so your PC isn’t filled with obnoxious toolbars and other junkware.

But if you have junkware on your system already, you’ll want to remove them.

Most antivirus programs won’t bother touching junkware. To deal with junkware, we recommend getting MalwareBytes Anti-Malware. The free version, even though it’s called a “trial”, is fine, and will last forever–you just won’t get real-time protection. As long as you occasionally use it it to scan your system, you’ll be able to keep yourself free of obnoxious software that isn’t detected or removed by your average antivirus program. We also recommend installing MalwareBytes Anti-Exploit to keep you save when browsing the web.

With a good antivirus program and both MalwareBytes programs, you’ll have a fantastic trio of protection.

How to Wipe Your Computer (and Verify Your Backups)

If nothing can remove the viruses properly–or if the malware so damaged your system that Windows still isn’t working properly after removing the viruses–you can go for the “nuclear option”: reverting your computer to its factory state. You’ll keep any personal files, but your any installed programs will be removed and your computer’s system settings will be reset to their default state.

On Windows 8 and 10, this is much easier–you can just use the “Reset This PC” feature to reset Windows to its factory default settings. You can find instructions for doing that here. If you’re using a Windows 7 PC, your manufacturer probably provides a restore partition you can access by pressing a certain key during the boot process. Consult your computer’s manual for the exact key you need to press for this.

You can also reinstall Windows on your computer by downloading Windows installation media for your computer from Microsoft.

Warning: Just be sure you have a backup of any important files before wiping your hard drive and reinstalling Windows!

If you’ve had to battle with malware once, try to do everything you can do make this the last time. Install a good antivirus program, keep your computer updated, and avoid running potentially dangerous software. Follow our tips to stay safe online to keep your computer–and personal information–secure.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 10/18/12

Comments (47)

  1. NSDCars5

    Any Acer Aspire V3-551G user should press ALT + F10 for factory reset.

  2. Donnie

    For pesky root-kit type viruses and even some of your standard “you got a virus” viruses, I find ComboFix to be particularly helpful in clearing the way for regular scanners. If I have a virus that stops me from running my software, I’ll run ComboFix and that usually fixes that issue. Then run my AV stuff (Security Essentials, generally) and this does the trick most of the time.

  3. LinuxCanuck

    Use Linux. You do not get viruses or even need AV software. I have used Linux for over ten years with an always on connection and have never used AV and I am always using the internet.

    My wife uses Windows and has had several trojans and viruses in that time and does not engage in any risky behaviour. I use a bootable Linux rescue CD like Trinity to fix the problem. There are others besides Bitdefender, such as Avira, Kaspersky, AVG, Dr. Web, etc.

  4. Seabat

    I installed an antivirus program as a backup to my paid program. It is run once a week on demand. Only one nasty has been found and quarantined in the past 8 months. The slimies are LSOs. I use Firefox which allows me to use Better Privacy and Ghostery. No LSOs has installed.

  5. Kevin S.

    I would not recommend MSE too much, last week I had to uninstall it in my mom’s laptop in order to be able to uninstall a malicious toolbar that hick-jacked her search results and changed her home page.

  6. TheFu


    “If you’re not running an antivirus and your computer has become slow and unreliable, it’s possible that you have a virus.”

    Should be:

    “If you’re ARE using Microsoft Windows AND are not running an antivirus and your computer has become slow and unreliable, it’s possible that you have a virus.”

    Mom got a virus a few years ago. Next thing we know, she has 20+ viruses and at least 2 rootkits. I have her turn off the PC. At my next visit, I bring and install Lubuntu 10.04. She was really afraid of Ubuntu, until she sat behind it and saw the GUI and menu. She’d been using all the programs already – Firefox, Thunderbird, Acrobat reader, and OpenOffice looked enough like the other programs that she figured it out quickly. No fuss. I installed Quicken under WINE too. It works.

    That was in 2010. I’ve been patching the system and performing backups from 5 states away ever since. All automatic. Every program on the system gets patched, no need for her to be prompted when she starts Firefox that a new version is available. Patching happens at the OS layer, not application layer. Same for Adobe Flash updates – those happen at the OS layer too.

    In July, the motherboard failed. It was a P4, so it was well passed time to fail. Swapped the HDD into a new system, a Core i7, booted, and everything was back just as before, well everything except the virus infected Windows. It refused to boot, but since Mom hadn’t used it at all in 2 yrs, it was no great loss, except the license isn’t useful anymore. A waste of money. Besides that the system was MUCH quicker. P4 to i7, it should be faster, though not really all that much according to Mom.

    No viruses since and she doesn’t worry about them at all. It is time for an upgrade to Lubuntu 12.04 at my next visit. See, Mom doesn’t like change, so Unity is 100% out, a non-starter. A few other relatives have asked about using Linux since Mom is so happy. FUD has kept them from the switch.

    Come on in. The water is fine. Sure some things are harder or even impossible, but how much time do you spend patching, antivirusing, cleaning, worrying? THAT can all go away. It is a trade off. Even if you just use Linux for email and web viewing, THAT will make a huge difference in your total system security.

    Sadly, if you use Java or any program from Adobe, you can still get a virus on Linux or Mac, so it is best not to use those programs unless you make money from them. While Linux may not have viruses, it can be compromised if setup in a non-secure way. A compromised Linux system can be a terrible thing, since remote access over a text interface can be just as powerful as with a GUI.

  7. KevinD

    “If you saw a message pop up that says a virus was detected, that’s a good thing.” – but only if you are positive that the message came from your own AV software. Most of the recent infections I’ve seen were caused by pop-ups that sneak behind suspicious websites. Most users, not knowing the difference, just panic and click the Fix Now button. What they end up with is some shifty trojan installing a mass of other malware and taunting the user to pay for the full version to get rid of them. I’ve even had a few users who were naive enough to pay for the software! Obviously, it just got worse from there.

    Users should be aware of how their AV software behaves in the event of a virus. Any alerts that do not replicate the same behavior should raise flags of suspicion.

  8. BillS

    KevinD You are so correct! I am actually surprised that anyone without any training can run their Windows Computers and maintain them. I used to have an MCSE and still get confounded sometimes..:) Can you imagine someone with only a AOL……….LOL. The nefarious methods to infect a Windows Computer are so plentiful it amazes me any are still running without some malware. Nice article, too bad the people that really need it will never see it.

  9. fallout330

    Using MSE along with Sandboxie, when needed.

  10. gkennedy

    “Most of the recent infections I’ve seen were caused by pop-ups that sneak behind suspicious websites. Most users, not knowing the difference, just panic and click the Fix Now button.” If they would only press Cntl-Alt-Del and start Task Manager, End the I.E. Session that way, they would not get as many infections. If they click any other part of the “Your infected” screen, they will complete the infection. At least that what I have expiereinced.

  11. julian

    Yes KevinD is right. I think this article should warn people against using most of the opportunities online that offer to scan your drive and so on.

    I’m sure the ESET one is fine (I use ESET), but there are many dodgy ones. Perhaps a list of safe online scanners would be a good post to do in future?

  12. michael

    I dont start the cleaning process with an antivirus software. I go into safe mode, use Sysinternals process explorer and Sysinternals Autoruns. I clean everything manually and then run the antivirus software to clean it up. Done in 15 min with almost all viruses. I may run some root kit software if it is real bad.

  13. WhytteDragun

    The major downside to those computers that have a restore partition on the hard drive is exactly that: it’s on the hard drive. Viruses can and do infect that partition, so restoring from it just gets rid of your files without affecting the virus at all.

  14. Wilma

    Shouldn’t the sentence below read “running at the same time”? Thank you

    “You can’t have multiple antivirus products installed at the same time, so this allows you to scan with another antivirus without going through the hassle of uninstalling your current antivirus.”

  15. StevenTorrey

    When a pop-up occurs that is NOT from your paid for anti-virus program and says “You may have a virus”–click for a free scan–I turn off the computer at the power switch. NOT the power down button, but the power switch. That cuts your power and your connection to the internet immediately and thus prevents the phony-pop up virus detector from completing its nefarious mission. (By contrast, the power down button turns the computer off in stages, thus allowing time for the virus to install itself.)

    When a person gets a virus that demands $39.99 to clean up your computer–NEVER PAY! Simply go into Safe Mode by pressing F8. Look into folders and find any that were downloaded at the time when you noticed the virus. Delete those folders. Do a search in “programs and files” of the name of the virus on the pop-up, and delete those files that show up with that name. Then restore your computer to a about a month previous… That should do it. (I suspect that anyone who has owned a computer for a period of time, will know how to do this automatically.)

    NEVER PAY for those phony anti-virus programs–doing so gives someone your credit card number so they can steal your funds, your identity, or access your computer, or whatever.

    Again, a paid for anti-virus program is worth the expense. The most innocuous site can contain a virus, not just porn sites. So that expense is worth every penny. Especially given how much info is stored on the home computer and especially given how needed the home computer has become.

  16. Eric

    Article is great, but you have covered BitDefender – We use Symantec at worl, I use AVG at home and others use any of an number of other versions – Maybe you could again do the article but this time include pics for each version or do a seperate article for each – I do forward your articles to my co-workers for their info as well as to suggest that they subscribe like I do

  17. Andee

    Lesson learnt: Never buy online using windows.

    Always use Linux for maximum security.

  18. Linda

    When I used Firefox I was constantly attacked with malware and lost my last machine it got so bad. Since I switched to Chorme I have had no serious problems for over two years. I do not understand why so many think that browser is so great.
    As far as anti virus programs
    AVG is useless crap too . Even the paid version and so in Microsoft Essentials. I got a root kit using Microsoft Essentials on one of my machines and always had a host of crap when I used AVG that it would supposedly remove and then it would come right back.

    Using Chrome and Norton has saved my sanity

  19. Randy

    The reason a lot of people like FF for a browser is it is really easy to customize with add ons. I use a x64 version of FF called Pale Moon and I have yet to have problems with malware. I use a PAID antivirus security suite and that is definitely the best way to roll. Free versions of any antivirus are free for a reason. It’s usually a lure to get you to buy the full version when you get infected. You will get a pop up from the free av provider you’re using telling you to upgrade and they’ll be happy to get rid of the malware for you. Just buy a good security suite and you don’t have to worry about that in the first place. Keep it up to date and run a scan regularly. You can also download a portable free version of MBAM or SAS to run scans for spyware or nasties that your security suite might miss. It’s too bad we live in a time when people find the need to cyber-steal our money, but keeping yourself protected is a step to not getting hit. Make yourself an easy mark and thieves will go after you first.

  20. Rick

    IMHO ther is only one true way to deal with any infection and my system drive is always ready for it-nuke and pave. delete the partition, make a new one, format it and reinstall windows. no more virus and if you keep all your important files on the d drive like i do you lose nothing.

  21. Rick

    oh, and the good part is no antivirus software loading up my ram, pinging out and slowing everything that i do.

  22. r

    if I get a virus I first identify it, research it a bit, and clean it out either through my AV or manually.

  23. Eddie

    Have always used the following: Microsoft Security Essentials on a daily basis. For a monthly scan I use Malwarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware and MSERT (Microsoft). So far no issues and it’s all free.

  24. williambaugh

    use windows xp pro and norton.. never (yet) been bitten, and keep all my files on a detachable drive.

  25. Matt Gilbert

    I see linux is becoming more mainstream for the masses and is coming up in discussions such as this. Good. My last Windoze virus / malware was in 2006 and it was my last straw with M$ as well, as I switched 100% to slackware linux and have never looked back.

  26. alexter

    Rick you might want to try ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE.. it takes 15 minutes to restore the image, and around the same time to create a backup.. ditched antivirus for quite some time and never had to worry about it. Install windows, all your programs and configurations and make a backup. A 45GB hard disk endede up as a 20GB image stored on my external drive. Its simple as that.. regards, alexter ;)

  27. Keith

    @TheFu: I know you know your stuff and I suppose you mean well, but often times it’s not the OS that’s the problem, and at other times, the user and the OS are simply a mismatch.

    As for the water being fine, as you put it, it was never fine for me, not for long. Sooner or later, a distro would show the loose bolts and chips in its paintjob, making me very glad that I tried out some of the distros, because they made Windows a real pleasure to reboot into.

  28. gunner

    i’m not particularly sophicated, not a “power user” but i can’t imagine going online without protection after getting a couple of nasty viruses back when i began as a user, in the stone age of windows 95. (yes i still keep my flint axe handy, but haven’t needed to use it for a while.) i usually leave my computer on all the time, but run a “stand down” routine at the end of a session. temp files delete in internet exploder, shut that down and run my malware catcher, virus blocker (paid version) a cleaner utility and finish with a maintenance utility. i’ve seen that bogus “warning” a few times but didn’t bite. for online purchases i use one time cards as close to the purchase amount as possible, and use any leftover balance for charitable contributions, so anyone trying to steal the card gets a dead card. not a perfect system but its worked so far.

  29. midwest guy

    1. Sandboxie
    2. Panda Cloud AV Free
    3. Image system

    Thumbs up.

  30. mikmik

    I use system restore.

  31. Richard Steven Hack

    The “nuclear option” is to call a PC tech support person to come in and clean your system. Now this WILL cost you money. Cleaning a PC can take four hours or more, so make the calculation times the tech support person’s hourly rate to see if that makes any sense for you. I charge a maximum $100 for home user PC support – but I can and have spent up to eight hours cleaning a PC. You wouldn’t believe the level of infection some people have – I’ve cleaned over 1,000 pieces of malware from a single PC!

    Before calling in the big guns, though, you should download Malwarebytes Antimalware, and Superantispyware (both free for home users), install and run them. You might also need to download Rkill (available from Major Geeks Web site) and run it to kill malware processes that might prevent your other antimalware programs from running. There is also Roguekiller which does a similar process.

    Another tool which is very serious at getting rid of malware is Combofix. But beware – this tool CAN damage your OS so it can’t reboot. It also takes a long time to run as it goes through over 50 separate steps. But it is very good at killing common malware. It is updated almost daily and is available from Major Geeks as well.

    Of course, if you can’t get on the Internet due to the malware slowing your machine down or interfering with Internet access, that won’t help. You’ll probably have to call in a tech support person. So you probably should download and install those programs NOW before you need them.

    Finally, don’t use Internet Explorer, don’t use Outlook or Outlook Express, and don’t install Java on your system if you don’t need it. The same applies to Adobe Reader – there are free third party PDF readers that will do most of what you want to do with a PDF. If you do need these programs, make sure they are continually up to date. Download and install PatchMyPC and run it weekly to make sure it updates these critical programs.

    Use Firefox or Chrome as your browser. On Firefox, install AdBlock and NoScript. They’re a nuisance – but also a lifesaver. On Chrome, use ScriptNo.

    And if all else fails because you’re one of those people who really shouldn’t be running a PC because you get infected daily – switch to Linux!

    Linda: AVG is not crap. Based on the independent antivirus test labs, it’s nearly as good as the top few AV programs like Kaspersky – and it’s free for home users. But NO antivirus today can keep out all the malware variants because the malware writers test their malware against the cloud AV services and keep tweaking their code until it passes without being detected.

    That’s why you need at least THREE separate antimalware programs – an AV, an antispyware on-demand scanner (or two) as well as something like ThreatFire which provides active protection against infection.

  32. Big Chuck

    I have a Windowa 7 PC, use a combo of Avast antivirus & Malwarebytes and don’t have any of the problems. Set a schedule for both to scan daily and run a boot time scan weekly….no problems.But if you are having consistant issues here’s a easy solution………..

  33. bedlamb

    @ Wilma
    Shouldn’t the sentence below read “running at the same time”?
    Correct. Only one ‘real time’ antivirus program should run. Other than that, you might have others installed as once-in-awhile, on demand scanners. Malwarebytes, trend micro housecall, esets. Also, if you are having a problem and suspect malware, you can run a ‘live’ repair disk. Avira, microsoft sweeper, and others.
    There’s more to it, but that answers the question. Sorry for droning on.

    @ Eric
    Doing a separate article for each AV product would be impractical. Most of them operate similarly. If you have questions regarding a specific program or suite, you could go to the manufacturer’s site, or to Google.

    Googled MBAM and SAS.
    Malwarebytes and Super-Antispyware.

    @ Big Chuck
    Porn sites make big money, and wouldn’t if they were notorious for malware.
    Top 10 Infected Web site types:
    1. Blogs | 19.8%
    2. Web hosting| 15.6%
    3. Business and economy | 10%
    4. Shopping| 7.7%
    5. Education and reference | 6.9%
    6. Technology, computer, Internet| 6.9%
    7. Entertainment and music | 3.8%
    8. Automotive | 3.8%
    9. Health and medicine | 2.7%
    10. Porn | 2.4%

    What really counts is common sense.

  34. Terry

    I use Spybot Search & Destroy along with my McAfee. Spybot S&D works slick, and if it comes across and imbedded virus, it tells the inexperienced user that if they simply reboot their computer, Spybot S&D will automatically load itself first (thus mimicking running the program in Safe Mode) and eliminate the virus. Using Firefox and the realtime scanning of Spybot S&D, along with my McAfee and Windows Defender, seem to keep out just about anything that tries to get in. Spybot S&D is also free, asking only for a donation if you see fit to help them stay in business.

  35. Rick Sos

    Been using a paid for Avira for years in my main computer and use MalwareBytes for a second opinion.
    MalwareBytes is only launched for scanning. It’s also behind a router. Seems to work well without slowing down my computer. The free Avira works well too but they flood you with popups so they can shove it. I’m switching to Microsoft Security Essentials. I’m running it on one computer that I lent out and installed it on a few others and no problems.
    I use the same combination to clean up my friends computers. Works well.

    But after using my Linux computer for a while, My windows computer feels like a slug.
    It’s time to make Linux my main computer.

  36. Nathan

    Had a virus a while back that avg would stop but then the virus would just go dormant and scans couldn’t find it. But every time avg stopped it the notice displayed it’s directory location. Tracked that sucker down the old fashion way!

  37. Chemical

    Home PC I use Microsoft Security Essentials and common sense when browsing the internet. Malwarebytes provides a weekly on demand scan.

    At work we run Webroot SecureAnywhere. It uses >5MB RAM with no impact on the CPU. There is no need to download daily virus definitions because it’s always connected to their “cloud” servers for zero day threats.

    For an already infected PC I like to run the Kaspersky boot rescue disk. Then reset web browsers / hosts file / TCIP connection. Follow up with AutoRuns and ProcessExplorer and conclude with a scan from Mawarebytes. Infection gone!

  38. doe

    hitman pro > combofix > all

  39. Shoelesslou

    Hey, I’m kinda new at this. Could someone point me in the direction of a good place to learn how to delete the partition, make a new one, format it and reinstall windows.

  40. Thomas

    Malware Bytes AntiMalware is probably the best at the second opinion antivirus. i had a virus a while back that actually infected my computer that norton didn’t catch straight off (yes i use norton 360). by the time it did catch it what it had intended to do was done: disable all administrator rights i had. i couldn’t access registry, use command prompt or anything like that. i was about to resort to a Linux style delete everything and start again. after a 9mb update to the latest definitions AntiMalware fixed absolutely everything.

  41. KevinD

    Thanks for the kudos! I use Ubuntu for casual browsing and general PC use. I normally only log in with Windows for Steam games, Netflix and Audio work. Since I have done this, I have completely stripped Norton and McAfee from my system. Now I just have Malwarebytes free and Spybot S&D installed, neither with background services running. If Windows is a requirement and dual-booting is too cumbersome, I highly suggest that anyone using Chrome or Firefox use the Adblock+ and WOT extensions. Check the user reviews and scan any torrent or software distribution site download before running it regardless of the file type. Always-always-always keep your AV definitions up to date! All of this with a bit of good judgement has kept my machine running smooth and virus free for the past 3 years.

  42. ichido

    Switch to Linux!

  43. BobJam

    There seem to be quite a few Linux folks here that lean toward thinking Linux is immune, or close to it: “Use Linux. You do not get viruses or even need AV software . . .”

    Now granted, Linux may not be as vulnerable as Windows, and viruses directed at Linux are certainly not as plentiful as Windows viruses (though crossplatform malware is becoming more common), BUT THERE ARE LINUX VIRUSES in the wild, and Linux machines do indeed get infected. Again, granted this is a pretty rare circumstance, but it can and DOES happen.

    I am a Linux user myself, but do not suffer under any false sense of security. NO OS is immune . . . arrogant Apple users found that out a few years ago.

    Does using Linux REDUCE your risk of getting an infection? Probably. But there is no such thing as 100% security . . . unless of course you encase your machine in concrete and never visit the Internet. There are Linux versions of some free antivirus programs . . . Avast and Clam (Clam is even in the repository for Ubuntu) are two good examples. Plus, there are two Linux rootkit checkers in the Ubuntu repository.

    Should you run an on-demand scan with these things? Probably you should at least do it occasionally. Avira has a Linux command line version that can be made to run as a TSR/On-Access scanner (“daemon” in Linux lingo . . . actually, any antivirus in Linux can be made a daemon, but the manipulation is complex and probably overkill . . . on-demand is sufficient.)

    But at the end of the day, it all comes down to common sense (I think somebody here already mentioned that.) My favorite sig quote: “Ultimately, the only protection against phishing, forged Web pages, downloading malware, and other threats is the technology located between the user’s ears.”

    As far as getting an infection, I think the best way to deal with it rather than try removal tools, is just to flat out install a CLEAN image or use a cloned HDD (I guess some might call that “nuking”). Swapping out a cloned CLEAN HDD or restoring a CLEAN image may take about 20 minutes. Not bad when you consider using malware removal forums and tools may not only take more time, but you’re never going to know if you “got it all”. Using a CLEAN Image or Clone, you don’t have the worry.

    The only time using malware removal tools makes sense is if the victim does NOT have essential data backed up, and the only chance to save that data is with a malware removal tool. Backup, backup, backup!!!!!

    Is Linux “better” than Windows? Those arguments, just like the browser wars, are perpetual, and each side has it’s studies to support THEIR argument (never mind that most studies are either paid for by Microsoft or Canonical . . . follow the money.) Each OS has its advantages and disadvantages.

    I am just more comfortable with Linux (YMMV), and DO believe it’s more secure (but certainly NOT 100% secure.) Would I impose my belief that Linux is more secure on someone else or otherwise argue it with a Windows user? No. Would I explain what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Probably.

    (BTW, Linux has some nice built-in tools . . . the tar command for one . . . to make images. You don’t need to go out and buy Acronis TI or Norton Ghost.)

  44. João Matos

    The problem is not the Operating System… Is how you use it. In any Operating System you shouldn’t use an account with administration privileges. Many of your problems are gone if your daily account as limited permitions…

  45. Lynn

    System restore can also help. It is the first thing I try!

  46. Joe

    I don’t think you can beat Norton Security Suite from XFINITY (comcast) . It does EVERYTHING, and has all the tasks like registry cleanup, Norton Insight, disc optimization, full scan, quick scan, great Firewall options, etc., etc. Never had a virus with it, and it doesn’t bog down my PC when doing silent tasks in the background during idle time. I HIGHLY recommend it. kind of pricey, but comes FREE with Comcast Internet………………….

  47. whyzguy

    run windows under a user(with small password) and use right click run as for anything that needs admin permission like installing and most problems will disappear. i run 4 machines with 6 accounts(for family members), shared files and devices, remote access, open wifi etc and never has any machine been completely infected. we all visit “questionable” sites and download as we please and we never change or use different passwords for each log in on the net. The antivirus business is just another overgrown “for your security” business backed by big gov who would rather keep from networking. ~imho

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