Several forums and websites offer a page of advice on how to check to see if your computer is infected with malware, and to help keep your computer virus-free and running fast, so I figured I'd be "that guy" since I didn't see anyone post anything here on this subject.
Detect And Remove Viruses
The first step is to verify your computer isn't already infected with some computer malware by running some free online scans by reputable companies. Depending upon the type of computer malware infections you may already have, it may attempt to block installing or scanning with any protection security software programs:
- Free Online Virus Scan - BitDefender Online Scanner
- Free ESET Online Antivirus Scanner
- Free Virus Scan - Kaspersky Lab
- Panda Activescan | Free Online Antivirus | Free Virus Disinfection - Panda Security
- HouseCall - Free Online Virus Scan - Trend Micro USA
Many of the above websites require for you to use Internet Explorer, and to update different software programs such as Adobe Flash or Java. An easy and quick way to download and update these software programs is to run Ninite's multiple installer at:
Install And Update AntiVirus
The second step is to uninstall (remove) any inactive, outdated antivirus you currently have. Most new, store-bought computers running Microsoft Windows come with a trial antivirus, and after the trial expires, it'll still continue to run, but won't download and update any virus definitions for new viruses. To uninstall your antivirus, open Control Panel in your Start Menu in the bottom-left corner of your screen, and then open "Add/Remove Programs" (Windows XP) or "Programs and Features" (Windows Vista/7). Restart your computer and now you're ready to install a new antivirus of your choice. Personally, I recommend either Avira AntiVir Personal (free) or Kaspersky AntiVirus (commercial). A great website that extensively compares antiviruses is AV-Comparatives.org. I won't bash specific antiviruses on here, but I will say this: Just because it's popular doesn't necessarily mean it's good at detecting viruses. Personally, I recommend staying away from anything that has a firewall built-in, such as internet security suites, because they tend to create more problems than they actually prevent. For most of us, the firewall built into Microsoft Windows is sufficient.
Free Anti-Adware/Malware/Spyware Scanners
Once you have a GOOD antivirus installed, it's not a bad idea to install at least another scanner or two that won't interfere with your antivirus. These scanners usually do a better job at finding other types of malware better than antiviruses do, such as adware, spyware, etc. Most of these do not have real-time protection, so you will need to manually update/scan weekly! Download, install, update, and scan with any or even all of these scanners:
- Emsisoft Anti-Malware Free
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
- Spybot - Search & Destroy
- Windows Defender (for Windows XP only)
Scan Before You Open
If you download any "questionable content" from the internet (movies, music, software, etc.), be sure to right-click on the file and scan it with both your antivirus and another anti-malware scanner BEFORE you open it, and don't forget to update them before you scan! There are also a few free online multiple antivirus scanners you can upload small files to that you've downloaded, just to be safe. Most of these multi-scanners will only accept files up to 20MB (20,480kb):
- VirusTotal - Free Online Virus, Malware and URL Scanner
- Jotti's malware scan
- VirSCAN.org - Free Multi-Engine Online Virus Scanner v1.02, Supports 37 AntiVirus Engines!
Other Free Recommended Services And Utilities
A few other free services and utilities I highly recommend are...
CCleaner erases unwanted temporary files (where some malware infections may hide), it has a highly trusted registry cleaner, and a program installer that allows you to uninstall multiple software programs at once (depending upon the programs). Uninstalling any unused software programs and running CCleaner occasionally will help your computer run faster. SpywareBlaster isn't a scanner, but real-time protection that runs inside Internet Explorer or Firefox web browsers. Be sure to update SpywareBlaster frequently because the free version doesn't automatically update.
The below DNS servers offer a free service that block access to some websites that may attempt to install malware, but does require for you to know how to change some network/router settings. I recommend using any of these:
And speaking of web browsers, I also recommend using a different web browser other than Internet Explorer, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera. Internet Explorer uses ActiveX controls, which can used by many malicious websites to install malware on your computer. Although using other web browsers won't keep you safe, but will help reduce your chances of getting a computer malware infection.
Data BackUp And Recovery Discs
I can't stress how important it is to backup your personal data (documents, financial, movies, music, pictures, etc.) weekly onto a flash drive or an external hard drive! Also, if your computer didn't come with operating system recovery discs, then you'll want to make some immediately! Some computer manufacturers require as little as a couple of blank DVDs, and some require as many as 7 blank DVDs! You'll need to refer to the manufacturer's website for info on how make them. If you encounter a computer virus that can't be easily removed, operating system recovery discs allows you to erase the entire hard drive and restart your computer like the day you bought it, thus removing the virus, which is why you need to do weekly data backups so you won't lose all of your personal data.
And lastly, nothing prevents computer malware infections better than common sense. If it looks suspicious, don't click on it! If something pops-up wanting to do a free scan, says your computer's infected, or wants to download/install something, don't click on anything! Immediately close your web browser by holding the ALT key and tap the F4 key. This tells Windows to force-close your web browser. If you can't remember the ALT + F4 keys method, then simply restart your computer. If you're still worried, update and scan your computer immediately. And don't use keygens (key generators) for software programs, because 99.99% of them have Trojans.
An easy and quick way to download, install, or update many of the software programs mentioned above is to run Ninite's multiple installer at:
I hope someone on here finds this informative.