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If you’re reading this article, there’s a pretty good chance that your computer is acting a bit strange and you suspect that you might have a virus. The main thing you need to remember is to stay calm. This isn’t the end of the world. A lot of people would have you believe that a computer virus can actually physically damage the hardware components of your computer. I’m not sure whether this is true or not but I can tell you that I’ve cleaned many viruses from computers and I’ve never seen any hardware damage.

Viruses tend to do things like trick you into giving someone your credit card number, collecting personal information about you, deleting or corrupting files, or just making your computer do funny things. Many viruses are able to prevent you from running virus scans or installing anti-virus software. If you have this happening, you’ve got your work cut out for you. I’m preparing an article on advanced tactics for removing viruses and when I finish it, I’ll link to it from this article.

The first thing you need to know is that you should be very cautious about installing so called “free” virus removal tools. In many cases, these “free” scanners are actually viruses! In other cases, they are what are called “ScareWare” programs. What happens is that you download these so called free programs and run a scan. Almost immediately the program will start saying that you have dozens or even hundreds of viruses. When this phoney scan completes, the program will tell you that your computer is horribly infected and that they will happily clean these viruses if you’ll only pay for their Premium Version. One of two things happens in this scenario. The first is that you give them your credit card number and they immediately drain your entire account. The second is that you give them your card number, and the program appears to immediately remove the hundreds of viruses that were never actually on your computer. In either case, if you fall for this scam, you have been swindled out of your money.

The good news is that there are actually some very reputable free computer scan and virus removal tools and I’m going to tell you about a few of them today. Keep in mind that the time to install antivirus software is BEFORE you actually need it so that’s what I’ll talk about first. There are two virus protection programs that I can recommend because I’ve used them quite extensively. The first is the one that I’m most familiar with and it’s called AVG. AVG has both a free version and a premium version but I’ve always used the free version and been quite happy with it. Click here to download AVG free virus protection software.

If you decide to download this program, you will actually only initially download a small file. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that you are finished with the download but you’re not. You’ll need an Internet connection to continue. When you click on the file to start the installation of the program, you’ll notice that the actual program will begin to download. Even with a high speed Internet connection it will take quite a while for the full program to download and install on your computer.

After the program has finished downloading and installing, you’ll want to look in your task menu and click on the AVG icon. This will bring up the AVG interface screen. The first thing you should do is click on the button labeled “Update Now”. This will update the database of known viruses on your computer so that the software will be more likely to catch any viruses that may be hiding on your computer.

It’s important to keep in mind that new viruses are unleashed everyday which means that it’s vitally important that keep your antivirus software up to date! With the free version, you can actually configure the software to automatically update every day at a predetermined time. I highly recommend doing this and scheduling the software to automatically scan your computer for viruses at that time as well.

Next, you’ll want to scan your system. I suggest that you use the option called “Scan Whole Computer”. It will take quite a while for this free computer scan and virus removal process to complete. The software usually takes a couple of hours to fully scan my system. The key is to remember to be patient. Sometimes it will seem like the program is frozen and not doing anything but it’s probably just scanning very large files during these times.

At the completion of the scan, you will be informed of whether your computer is clean or infected. If your computer is infected, you will have a couple of options. You can heal the computer from the virus and move the infected file to the “Virus Vault” or you can delete the virus from your computer. What you choose to do is up to you. Both options will solve your problem.

I should point out that anytime I have a computer that becomes infected with a virus, I like to run the scan, heal the virus, restart the computer, and then run a scan again just to make sure it’s actually gone.

Now, let’s talk about the other free virus protection program that I like. The name of this program is avast. Click here to download the free avast antivirus software. Like AVG, avast has a free version and a couple of premium versions that you have to pay to use. I’ve only used the free version and it has always served me well. Actually, the only times I’ve really used avast were on some Windows XP machines that I couldn’t get AVG to install on because they were already infected with a virus. For some reason avast installed without any problem and successfully removed the viruses.

The interface of avast is a bit difficult to use in my opinion. Actually, I’m just not as familiar with it as I am with AVG. The avast interface looks similar to music or DVD player software. The same rule applies when I’m using avast to scan and remove viruses. If I find something, I restart the machine and immediately scan it again. There have been a few occasions where the first scan found a virus but missed a second virus that was only discovered because I ran the second scan.

The last option I would like to tell you about isn’t a virus protection program. It is rather an online virus scanner. I use this tool quite frequently as a way of double checking AVG or avast. In my experience, it’s not uncommon for one virus protection tool to miss detecting a virus that another will catch. The name of this online scanner is Trend Micro HouseCall. Click here to scan your computer with HouseCall.

To use this scanner, you’ll need to download a small file to your computer that will act as the virus scanning interface. After you download it, the program will automatically update. I believe it’s actually saving a database of the names of known viruses to your computer when it’s doing this update.

After it has finished updating, you’ll have the option of choosing which parts of your computer you would like to have scanned and whether you would like to do a fast scan or a thorough scan. I always choose to have the program scan my entire computer and even though it takes quite a bit longer, I choose the “thorough scan” option.

When the scanner has completed, it will actually remove any infections that it finds for free. Just like with the other programs that I’ve discussed in this article, I like to restart the computer and run a follow up scan just to make sure the system is really clean.

There you have it; three good free virus scan and removal tools. If you found value in this article, please help me out by telling your friends about my website. You can either email them a link to it, tweet about it on Twitter or share the link to it on Facebook. Anything you’re willing to do would be very much appreciated.

One of my most recent articles is called How To Find My IP Address On Windows 7. If you have the time, I would appreciate it if you would read it over and share your thoughts on it with me. If you’re looking for another good tip, you should read How To Get Bluetooth On Your Computer For Free.

Sources:

  1. http://free.avg.com/us-en/download-free-antivirus
  2. http://www.avast.com/index
  3. http://housecall.trendmicro.com

I receive compensation due to affiliate links or endorsements on this website: Disclosure of Compensation