Responding to and Recovering from a Virus

Computer Computer Software Responding to and Recovering from a Virus

Does your computer system seem to run slower than it should? Does it crash often and display error messages you don't recognize? Play musical tunes you've never heard before? If your computer acts like it's inhabited by ghosts, you may have a computer virus or some kind of spyware.

On the other hand, an unhealthy or overloaded system could cause some of these same problems particularly sluggish performance. Your hard drive could just be running out of space, or you could have insufficient memory resources for the applications you're running.

So how do you tell the difference between a virus and a system problem? Generally speaking, if you notice sudden, unexpected behavior, like strange sounds coming from your computer or file names you don't recognize, you probably have a virus.

If you think you've contracted a computer virus, you have several options:

  • Run antivirus software. Antivirus software is available at costs ranging from free to about $50 and is invaluable to your PC's health. Most utilities can be set up to scan your machine's memory continuously and alert you if it finds a corruption. It will also alert you when you try to open an infected file. But scanning isn't fail-safe, so if your computer behaves suspiciously, run the antivirus software over your entire system to find and repair the infected files.

  • Replace files. If antivirus software can't repair the damage, your only choice is to delete the infected files and replace them with clean copies from a recent backup.

  • Run a disk-repair utility. After you start your computer from the boot disk, run a disk-repair utility. Both Mac and Windows operating systems come with a disk-repair utility that you can use for this purpose. Once you get the computer up and running again, scan your entire system with antivirus software.

  • Reformat your drive. If running a disk-repair utility doesn't work, your hard drive may be damaged. In this case, use a disk-repair utility to reformat it and then reinstall your system software from the original operating system disk.

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