The Internet is a very dangerous place. If you aren't careful where you're browsing, it is very easy for your computer get infected with a malicious virus. Sometimes, you have to click on a link or actually install something to get a virus, but in other cases viruses can infect your computer as soon as you browse a website. On top of that, if you regularly download files through peer-to-peer networks, then your chances of getting infected increase exponentially. Here are some tips on how to know when you're infected, and how to remove the viruses.
A viral infection can take a number of different forms and show many different types of symptoms. You might start suddenly getting popup advertisements, even when you're not actually browsing a website. Or you might notice that your computer just seems to be performing very sluggishly. With the most malicious types of viruses, your computer may stop working altogether. But perhaps the most dangerous types are the ones that run subtly and steal your account names, numbers and passwords in order to steal your identity.
For the more subtle types of infections, it can be hard to determine if a virus is really the cause. In other cases, even if your computer shows symptoms of viral infection (such as general slowdown), it may not be viruses that are the cause. Since it can be tough to know for sure if your computer is infected, and it can be catastrophic if you don't detect and remove an infection, the best thing to do is to scan your machine regularly. In order for that to be successful, you must also make sure your virus scanning software is up to date and has the ability to detect the most recent viruses out there.
There are a number of free virus and spyware scanning programs out there on the Internet. While most of them are quite thorough, not one program is a catchall, so you may want to run two or three different scanning programs just to be absolutely safe. If you don't already have a virus-scanning program, then you should download one straightaway and install it. Unfortunately, some viruses are very crafty and will actually prevent you from running install programs for virus scanners that can find them. In some cases, you can simply trick the virus program by renaming the installer program for the virus scanner.
Even if you are able to successfully scan and remove viruses, you may find that they come right back the next time you start up your computer. If that happens, then you may have a virus with a rootkit component. Rootkits basically make it so that as soon as your computer is restarted, the virus is reinstalled. Many basic virus scanners can't get rid of rootkits, but there are other free software packages specifically designed to battle rootkits that should work.
If you still have problems, then your best bet is to seek out one of the many online forums that specialize in helping people fight viruses. Volunteers on these forums will walk you thorugh step-by-step to help you cleanse your compute of viruses.
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