Detecting and removing malware from your system is an essential skill that is necessary for maintaining any computer. The process of how to remove malware is not complicated once you understand how to do it. Once the malware is installed, it can begin to affect various parts of the system.
Signs and Symptoms
Learning about the common signs and symptoms of malware will lead you to an effective and efficient solution. Malware can damage your hardware, corrode your files and even crash your system. There are a variety of signs and symptoms that indicate the presence of malware on the computer. For example, the browser may freeze, or the computer might slow down.
Common Types of Malware
It is important to learn the different kinds of malware that can trick you into installing them onto your computer. There are benign forms of malware such as pop-up ads, and these are easy to remove. Malicious malware can cause extensive damage to files, and it may require you to reinstall the entire operating system in some cases.
Examples of the most common types of malware include:
- Trojan horses
Phishing scams are a common problem for both Mac and PC computers. Phishing a process where the malware gets installed after a website redirects the visitor to an infected page. The malware can start to install itself automatically onto the system, and it can be difficult to stop.
Some phishing scams try to trick the visitor into voluntarily installing it onto the computer by presenting the software like an anti-virus solution to a virus that doesn’t exist. If this fake solution gets onto the system successfully, it can cause a variety of problems, so must be removed as soon as possible. This type of malware is insidious because it tries to get the user to provide credit card information and other personally identifying information.
Common Signs of Malware
Here are some common signs of malware infections:
- The computer begins to slow down noticeably.
- Your personal information is stolen, and mysterious charges appear on your credit card.
- Your Internet browser suddenly changes your homepage.
- Unusual amounts of pop-up ads begin to appear.
There are several methods that can be used for removing malware from a computer. Depending on the method you use, there might be some slight differences in the way you remove the malware from a Mac computer compared to the procedure utilized for a Windows PC. This is especially true if you are using the Restore Point method described below. For most types of malware, the following procedures should suffice for both Mac and PC computers.
Remove Malware on Mac Computers
Mac computers are known for having an intense internal system that is designed to protect against malware. Examples include XProtect and File quarantine. However, these internal features do not address the problems presented by many harmful pieces of malicious software. The types of malware threats that are being generated are always evolving, adapting and changing. The internal protection offered by the operating system and Mac components might prove insufficient.
If this is the case, follow these steps:
- Go to a trusted website to get the malware remover. Cnet.com is a popular site with user ratings, reviews and reliable software downloads and products.
- Download MalwareBytes for Mac, or select your preferred anti-malware product.
- Install the anti-malware software, and allow it to scan your system. It will remove any malware during the scan.
It is critical to exercise good judgment when installing any anti-malware software onto your computer. If you are in doubt about the safety of any product, consult with a trusted friend or professional who is familiar with the safest anti-malware products available.
Remove Malware on Windows Computers
Windows PC is more vulnerable to various types of malware than Macs, but the process of removing the malware is similar. In addition to the following steps below, make sure that you run an anti-virus program like Microsoft Essentials in the background.
- Select a malware or anti-virus software from a trusted source like Cnet.com.
- Install and run the program.
- Clean up any unnecessary files from your hard drive using Disk Cleanup, which can be found in the Windows start menu.
Other Types of Malware
If these steps do not work, you might be dealing with a more aggressive type of infection. Go to the start menu on the PC, or use the Mac Finder to search for the time machine option. This is similar to the Restore Point on Windows. Follow the directions to restore the system to an earlier point in time. This will fix many problems that are not resolved after downloading MalwareBytes.
Re-Installing the OS, Backup, and Restore
If the system restore or time machine options fail, you might need to re-install the operating system. If this happens, always backup your files onto an external hard drive before erasing the hard drive and re-installing your OS. Try the restore methods first.
Time machine on the Mac can backup these files if you have an external hard drive connected by a USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire port. You also need Time Capsule installed. When you connect the external drive, you will be asked if you want to back up your files. You will be able to control the frequency of these backups. The process is similar to a Windows PC. Go to the start menu, and type “backup and restore” into the search field. Follow the prompts provided by the system, and this will restore your computer to an earlier point in time.
It is also important to try to prevent the malware from getting on the system in the first place. This requires the application of the health care principle known as the universal precaution. This means that you should always expect that non-trusted websites are dangerous. It also means that you should always avoid opening email links from suspicious sources, and never click on the link directly. Instead, copy and paste it into the universal resource locator, or URL, at the top of your screen. As an added precaution, always run a registry cleaner, like CCleaner, on your system right after removing the malware.