Let me guess: You booted up your computer this morning only to find the blue screen of death. Or you were logging onto a site you’ve visited hundreds of times before and now the FBI is screaming at you to pay them for your online pirating. Or maybe you noticed how slowly your applications are to launch. So you checked your antivirus and yep, you’ve been infected.
After your initial panic, you started searching for a cure and here you are, reading this article. If your computer won’t boot up at all, then you’re reading it on your buddy’s computer, in which case I can’t help you. You’re going to have to load it into the car and take it to a professional. But for you other victims, here’s what you do.
Isolate and Update Your Computer
First, disconnect any other computers or printers in the house. You don’t want to infect them through file sharing.
Now boot up the infected computer in Safe Mode. That loads the minimum drivers necessary and will let you access your applications without interference from start-up programs. Maybe you have a boot disk you’ve prepared for just this occasion. However you do it, get to your systems.
Update your operating software and antivirus. You never know; perhaps they’ve already solved your problem and you just need to implement it.
Malicious Software Removal
Download Malwarebytes. While not an antivirus program per se, it is a very effective malware remover and can repair the registry if necessary. It also provides Help Desk technicians with a log to help them diagnose the seriousness of the problem, should you need to contact them.
Try System Restore. You can reset your computer back to the time before the infection, but remember, this will also delete operating system, antivirus, and browser security updates. You’ll need to update them immediately once you’re free from the virus. While you can lose some information from a system restore, your emails, documents, and photos are not affected.
You can also try an online repair service that removes computer viruses remotely. Assuming you can still connect to the internet, technicians access your systems and work on them while you watch (and squirm). They can also perform a variety of services related to computer repair, but for right now, you’re just interested in getting rid of the virus without sacrificing your data.
What Not To Do
Obviously, there are several things you should never do while you’re infected:
- Don’t sent emails with attachments to anyone.
- Don’t plug a USB drive into your computer (you don’t want the virus to spread).
- Don’t log on to financial, email, or any accounts containing personal information.
- Don’t shop online.
Treat your computer like it is literally sick. You wouldn’t go to work or sneeze all over your friends, would you? Don’t let your computer sneeze all over the internet.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Eventually you’re going to be infected. It can happen to anyone. The best thing is not to risk losing your data in the first place: BACK IT UP. That can be as simple as copying your documents, photos, bookmarks, and email file onto a flash drive periodically. Or you can buy one of those USB backup drives that updates your files automatically.
Peace of mind is having what’s important to you sitting on another drive somewhere while you’re having to reinstall your operating system or let a remote technician fiddle with your internet lifeline.