5 easy ways to tell if you have a virus

Here are 5 easy ways to tell if you have an infection on your computer

1. The Fake Anti-Virus

It says you’re infected with a five thousand viruses. Your C: drive is dead, your firewall is detecting intrusions, your personal data has been stolen and so on.  But it goes on to say, it can take care of all these problems and more, just a soon as you hand over your credit card information. These are the dreaded “Fake Antivirus” infections. These programs are designed to scare you into paying to remove them by displaying big messages that contain scary bits of information. The infection may or may not be removed even if you do pay. A typical fake anti-virus infection may look something like this: pc-overhaul-Internet-Security-2014   pc-overhaul-System-Care-Antivirus-virus pc-overhaul-system-protection-virus   If you don’t remember having bought and installed the antivirus product, and you’re getting an antivirus alert, odds are it’s fake.

2. Browser Changes

Malware and virus infections can make lots of different changes to your web browser. You may notice that your home page has been changed to a page you have never seen before. Malware makers sometimes force this change because they get paid for every “hit” to their page.

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Or perhaps your google or yahoo searches are now redirecting to a strange new site.

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Finally, while many legitimate companies will install toolbars in your browser, such as google and yahoo, or even antivirus companies like Norton, McAfee and AVG, you may notice new toolbars under the web address bar that you didn’t install.

MsgPlus-Toolbar

Unkown toolbars are a strong indication of a malwareinfection.

3. Check the status bar

Down next to the clock in the lower right corner of your screen are the icons for programs that are currently running. Many viruses, especially the fake antivirus malware mentioned above, will have a generic looking icon in the status bar.  Sometimes you will also get a warning in the form of a balloon coming from this area of the screen.   pc-overhaul-spp-tray-alert The warning claims you can fix the virus, all you have to do is use their product. If even a small percentage of users pay for the removal, they are making a lot of money, in addition to getting their hands on your credit card information. pc-overhaul-antiviruspro_geni_message Notice the scare tactics? Real antivirus will simply tell you it found an infection, and maybe offer you option on how you’d like to handle it. pc-overhaul-desktop-01 More scare tactics.   This is what real antivirus warnings look like. They tell you the infected file(s) and ask you what to do with them. No scary details about what will happen to your computer of your files. pc-overhaul-970435_115642661975796_211627727_n pc-overhaul-xzmsH pc-overhaul-warn2   Looking at the icon in the system tray may help you identify a virus infection.

4. Missing Desktop Icons

Your desktop full of all your important icons and folders…

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Is suddenly completely blank.

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It’s rare that a virus actually wiped out your data. Most of the time if your icons, files and folders on the desktop are “missing”, and the start menu does not come up, it’s from a virus infection. Often times these viruses (ransomware) will demand payment in order to “fix’ the problem. Rest assured your files can be recovered without passing your credit card info or your money to these thieves.

5. Pop-ups Galore

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If your computer screen is filled with pop-ups that don’t seem to ever go away, then you have a virus infection. These infections aren’t as harmful as others, but they are sure annoying and they slow your computer down.

I have a virus infection, so now what do I do?

Don’t panic.  Removing a virus infection can be tricky depending on your skill level when it comes to running software and changing some system settings on your computer. Even when the virus itself has been removed, there are often other issues like programs not opening correctly, missing drivers, corrupt Windows Operating System files, no internet connection, and other issues. I strongly recommend contacting me to have your virus professionally removed. If you insist on trying to remove it yourself, then the easiest to use tool out there is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Download and install the program, update the definitions, and run a full scan. If that doesn’t solve your problem, turn to a professional.

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