How-To Geek

Problems Blamed on Viruses versus Knowledge of Computers [Chart]

What do you think? Highly accurate or…?

Something I’ve noticed about the proliferation of computer viruses… (Larger Version of the Chart) [via Reddit]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 07/27/11

Comments (26)

  1. Knightwing19

    Very accurate. I’ve worked in Tech Support in the past and I don’t know how many times I’ve helped someone with a computer issue and have them no absolutely nothing about their computer.

    Another good one is “I think a hacker is in my computer”. Yeah because you are so important. LOL!

  2. Hatryst

    ….or maybe THIS explains it better: :)

  3. Wayne

    I think it is fairly accurate. I can’t count how many times I have had to tell my mother that people aren’t hacking her WiFi because she sees the SSID of their wireless networks on her computer.

    When her WiFi was first setup, she always lost connection to it as well. She didn’t believe me when I told her it was her microwave and 2.4 Ghz phone causing the problems. Changed channels and ditched the phone. She hasn’t lost connection in a year.

  4. greendiamnond

    what most people don’t know the worst viruses are covert and wont give away that there there by causing problems with your computer and if it is a viruses that is made pacifically to harm it will be obvious and drastic change

  5. Michael

    In my experience, people who don’t know how to use their computer don’t even realize that they have a virus.

  6. Anonymous

    When my computer acts up, it’s more likely that my “anti-virus” software is causing the problems. And if I gave in to conspiracy theory I’d probably think that the anti-virus companies had secret labs where teams of uber-geeks were developing the very viruses that their software protect against (kind of like the drug companies do).

    Viruses are so low on my list of suspects when it comes to poor computer performance that I hardly even give it a second thought – but I DO at least think about it. Bulky/leaky apps (usually due to bad coding), bloated OS’s, poor or non-existent upkeep (like forgetting updates and never defragging) and sheer configuration problems are more likely to be the culprit than any “virus.”

    And if you’re worried about security risks then just look around you! For example, are you using a public WiFi “hot spot”? If so, then shame on you if your bank account gets “hacked.” Or how about that quazi-governmental or even governmental agency?!!!

    My rule of thumb is give as little info as you are “required” to give. And when the required info seems ridiculous (which is all too often) then give bogus info. You may even have to hide behind fancy routing and/or use different MAC addresses too. Reason is that the entity you do business with is much more likely to experience human error with your info and cause you much bigger headaches than any little old virus is going to do.

    People! You have much more to worry about than viruses on your computer. For example, credit card skimming, phone bill “cramming” and entire data bases on some company idiots laptop getting stolen can cause you more pain than any pathetic virus. So virus, shmyrus!

    But since we’re talking about viruses then here’s some simple advice. Run a simple low-intrusive A/V product like MSSE on a regular basis (for your Windows users), consider the source of your apps/data that you get and get in the habit of using good habits. But if you can’t do that then you might want to look into “sand boxing” your system by using a virtual one. I suggest VBox and whatever guest OS you like while leaving the real (aka “host”) OS alone – I hear that’s the idea behind Windows 8.

  7. Andrew

    Virus attack!

  8. Vorlock

    i have many people in my year group that have no idea. Most people are experiencing problems when the ssd drive slides out of place and causes a system boot error, where the bios cannot find the ssd. I find it funny when you shake the laptop and re-choose ssd in the bios it boots. Most people think its a virus because they dont know what “Error: SSD not found unable to boot” means. hahaha. Some people that think their good with computers frighten them even more by saying it is a virus. Then when i fix it they think im a virus killer and then i get asked all sorts of questions that don’t make sense!

  9. Vorlock

    Yeah the ssd does slide out because of really poor build quality. DELL

  10. AbbaDabba

    Gee, that’s about the same graph as pregnant teens and knowledge about biology… the less you know the more pregnant you are.

  11. Kell

    Yeah, well – when things go #$%! with my system, the LAST thing I think of is: Virus!

    When I take my problem to a tech site, the only advice I ever get is: Run a virus scan. Even though, in my post I’ve told them all the virus and malware scans I’ve run and what protection I have installed.

  12. Wuisname

    90 percent of the computers that come by me are infected with spyware, trojens, and viruses because most of these people don’t know better to have virus and maleware protection! They download stupid games and coupon software designed to hack a computer! These hackers don’t need to pray on just the heavy hitters either, they will be happy to steal anyone’s ID to be able to open a credit card in your name, so give me a break and yea there may be many that cry wolf but the virus threat is real people!

  13. Different Michael

    They may “no absolutely nothing about their computer,” but I’m betting they KNOW their own language. ;))) We must be exceedingly careful when we dis others!

    As a person providing tech support, I’m on the fence about this one. First, nothing works, and everyone involved should realize this. Yes, most things work most of the time, but really. Can you see BMW putting a support person on the phone to tell owners, “You lost your steering? Well, I’m glad you got the car stopped without hitting anything. Now, to fix it, all you need to do is turn the motor off and back on again. Yes, with the key.” How can someone whose career is to be expert in their own field keep up with all the issues in ours? We can’t even understand and solve all the problems, hence the proliferation of websites and blogs where we all share our ignorance (okay, okay, sometimes we know the answer!).

    Second, while most of my users are ignorant of the complexities of their computers (more than once I’ve heard on the phone, “Okay, I’ve turned it off and on again but the same screen is still there!” as they wore out the button on the MONITOR!), some have no respect for their responsibilities and constantly visit sites where they get infections. For those, the number of problems caused by viruses is many times anything else.

    I would say it is a “mixed bag.”

  14. Tedo

    I agree completely – I do more damage to my computer than any virus would ever be able to accomplish. I constantly stay behind the curve on knowledge. Expecially when corporate America is slow to adopt new software updates. (XP & OFFICE 2003). My kids have the new versions – it’s like old math and new math, I don’t know where to start on their systems. Probabaly better off if I don’t.

  15. Paul

    Spot on. I find the vast majority of computer problems reported are of the Picnic variety.

    ( Problem In Chair Not In Computer )

  16. Morely the IT Guy

    @Anonymous – if you’re using Norton or McAfee products, you don’t need viruses for your computer to be slow and unresponsive. The last AVG and Avast were almost as bad. Now understand, I am NOT a Microsoft fan, but after switching to Windows 7 and Microsoft Security Essentials (plus a little added protection from HostsFileUpdater and using Chrome instead of IE or Firefox), I haven’t seen issues like I used to.

    And of all the hundreds of computers I have had had to disinfect over the years, only two were running any AV software other than Norton or McAfee.

  17. FHS Admin

    I’d have to admit – it is 100% true. My brother and I used to always clash: I’d constantly tell him he needed virus protection but he said “No! I don’t go to a lot of sites, I can’t get a virus!” Then when he started blaming his problems on a virus – grandted he didn’t want me to hear, I just happened to hear when I wasn’t supposed to – so I then hacked his router and changed the settings, not allowing his MAC address on to further the problem for him so that he decided it a necessity to call me. So when I went over there to fix it, I simply slapped Kubuntu 10.04 on the box (of course this was a while back, lol). I’ve gotten to the point where I tell all my customers – It’s Linux or avast! and most of them don’t trust avast! just because it’s free. No matter what I say they say, “No, a free anti-virus can’t be good!”

  18. Jasonwuzthere

    Yep, that about says it.

  19. theeaglehaslanded

    are your computers are belong to us.

  20. jlreaa

    Luckily here are websites out there that can detect viruses on your computer and for a little$$ they will fix them for you.

    And wasn’t it amazing when Mcafee found a cure for that first virus?

  21. Roaad Dog777

    One of the most makes sense charts I’ve seen in a while,
    I’d like to see one that shows that curve on users who never even run a CHKDSK /F
    to those who add extra bleach and use every fix-up tweaker they can d/l set to run back 2 back
    the whole time their computer is powered-up!.

    R D

  22. squeezeme

    I’m going to agree with different Michael… I don’t know a lot about how my home computers work, but I do my best to learn what I can (when and if I have time). I don’t know what I don’t know, but I bet I could give you a class or two on how to launch an air defense missile or pmcs a HUMMWV or a HEMMTT or survive outdoors for extended periods or detect IED’S or read a map and navigate land without a gps. And if I was arrogant I could make fun of you for being so ignorant too. I see literally hundreds of educated people every year who fail to grasp these concepts, and it’s my job to instruct them so that they understand. If you are a person in tech support, it is your job to instruct and help your customers, right? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you… If it weren’t for them your position would not be necessary. Then what would you brag about?

  23. Jesse McCullough

    I am a IT technician and I have my own business and the number of actual viruses I’ve found to be the cause of the problems my clients run into to be about 1/2 of the total number of calls I’ve gotten to resolve a virus problem. Some of the others were other malware apps that were lurking on the computer. Others were legit programs and services that behaved in away that made them look like spyware or viruses. Some, have been other issues related to computer performance.

    I don’t expect my clients to know the difference, to be honest. They just need to be able to check email, play their games, or log in to their company’s website to do some work. They call me to deal with the problems they encounter while doing that. I do however try to educate them when it comes to basic computer “health care.” I don’t care that they call me up and pay me to spend an hour or two scanning the computer and switching off unneeded services and apps, but they can save themselves time and money if they know what to check first before they call me and tell me there’s something making their PC run slow or keeping their browser from opening webpages.

  24. Larry

    Once i did download a system utility program to try and when i decided to uninstall it it said i had 2 trojans it needed to clean which my AVG never showed i had a trojan…I was going to be required to purchase the program so it could clean it since it was a free 2 try and only showed what problems it found…When i uninstalled it i got hit with the trojans and crashed my puter…I might be wrong but i feel that company put the trojans in the program so u would have to purchase it and if u didnt u got hit…

  25. Dave

    Ever since I quit using Windows and switched to Linux,about 8 years ago,I no longer use Anti-virus software and I have never gotten a Virus, Trojan, Worm or Spyware on any of my 5 PCs.
    I’m talking on-line shopping, banking, emails, downloads galore!
    The Linux Distros I use the most are Ubuntu, Fedora and Puppy.
    Before you bash me, try a Linux Distro. they can be run from the CD or Loaded to Dual-Boot on your PC or MAC.
    Did I mention that the Operating System is free as well as the programs/software?
    Find your Linux Distro at

  26. Craig

    only thing I add to this that the likely hood of them getting virus if higher when you have low Knowledge of Computers the number times i cleaned up fake anti-virus programs thing they installed that changed their proxy setting so they can’t get online(often blaming there isp for this ) etc. all I say for Dave even though Linux is low risk they are virus out there last time I check I think they were no more 60 of them (most of them you have to be pretty stupid to get infected with them true ) but still there a risk so running without an AV is just risk I would not take personally especial if I was using as it lamp system or email sever

    Personally I use windows for my main browsing the net gaming and .net coding and mostly use Linux for php pearl development systems.

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