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Top Places To Look When You Suspect You Have A Virus

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 by | Filed Under: Security Help

Viruses love to hide on your computer. Sometimes they sneak past your anti-virus or even disable it. Luckily, you can often discover the virus yourself by performing a manual search. It’s a good idea to give your anti-virus a hand and perform a quick manual check at least once every few weeks. It usually takes less than 10 minutes and it could save you the hassle of dealing with a nasty virus after it’s taken hold.

Add/Remove Programs

PUPs or Potentially Unwanted Programs are often bundled with legitimate software. The original software may have been downloaded from a non-official site or the developer might not have realized the additional software could harm your computer. Start by opening your Control Panel from your Start menu.

Control Panel









Choose Add/Remove Programs or Programs, depending on your operating system. If you don’t see either option, select Programs and Features. This opens a list of all currently installed programs.

AddRemove Programs










Scroll through the list and see if there are any programs that shouldn’t be there. Research any programs through a quick Google search to see if they were preinstalled with your computer. Uninstall any questionable programs that you didn’t install or that weren’t installed by the manufacturer.

Select the program and click Uninstall. Follow any prompts to complete the removal.









Check Browsers

Accidentally clicking the wrong thing or installing software could result in malicious browser add-ons and plugins that track what you do and slow down your computer. Review your add-ons for any installed browsers and remove any you don’t want or use. You may also need to remove these through Add/Remove Programs.

Chrome – Open a browser window, type chrome://extensions and press Enter. Press the trashcan icon to uninstall.

Chrome Uninstall





Internet Explorer – Open IE, click the gear icon at the top right and select Manage Add-ons. Select the add-on and choose either Disable or Remove.

IE Uninstall









Firefox – Open Firefox, type about:addons in the address bar and press Enter. Select Extensions and press Remove to uninstall.

Firefox Uninstall












Check Running Services And Processes

Some viruses hide a little better and the only way you see them is through your computer’s running services. You can see all running services and processes with Task Manager. Start by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del to open Task Manager.

The first tab is Processes. Look through the list and search for any processes you don’t recognize. These should all reflect required system processes or open applications. Enter the exact process name into a search engine to research it.

TaskManager Processes














The most important tab is Services. The description column tells you a little about the service. If you  have any questions about services, search for the exact service name or go to ProcessLibrary or FileNet and search for the name.

TaskManager Services











Once you know more about the process or service, you’ll know whether it’s safe or not, how to stop it from running and how to remove it.

Check Startup

A variety of programs start as your computer boots. Some viruses include themselves in this list. You can block them from starting for easier removal later through msconfig. Do not change any settings while in msconfig or remove any startup programs that are required or you could prevent your computer from booting properly.

If you have Windows 7 or earlier, open your start menu and click Run. Type msconfig.exe and press OK.








Run Command










This opens the msconfig window. Click the Startup  tab. I’m running Windows 8, so my Startup looks slightly different. Windows 7 and earlier users will see a list of startup items. After viewing the descriptions and researching any unknown items, click unwanted programs and disable them.






If you have Windows 8, open Task Manager and click the Startup tab. Right click any program and click Disable to stop it.

TA Startup












Other Tips

After you’ve found specific programs, browser add-ons and processes that shouldn’t be on your computer, you can attempt a manual removal if your anti-virus doesn’t find anything. Searching for “remove program name” will take you through the common steps. You can also search your computer for files with that program name in them. Until you’ve removed all traces, the virus could still come back. 

If your anti-virus isn’t working or finding the virus, try another anti-virus or anti-malware program. Yours may be corrupted due to the virus.



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2 Responses to “Top Places To Look When You Suspect You Have A Virus”

  1. Richard Macmillan says:

    I’ve looked at my add/remove list many times. Most are impossible to know what they do. I tried entering the names on Google to see if I could get more information. It takes a looong time.
    I noticed that you removed Auslogics Duplicate File Finder. How was that decided?

  2. Jerry says:

    Great info, do not have any problems now, but filed it for future, and hope I never have to use it. THANKS…

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