Have Microsoft Windows or a MAC? We can help!
My computer has been acting weird, but when I do a virus scan it doesn't find anything!
It doesn't matter if you have a pay-for antivirus program or are using a free virus scan program, many of today's evil little malware programs no longer show up on antivirus scans. To be safe, you should have something to find the things anti-virus programs miss. The best product I have found is called Malwarebytes and best of all, it is FREE. Malwarebytes works with your anti-virus program to find the things it doesn't. Many of today's evil programs, like the FBI ransomware, are just programs and act nothing like a virus so you need something else to find them. Just go to our FREE VIRUS SCAN download page and install Malwarebytes, update it and run a full scan. Remove anything it finds and then reboot your computer. Is it better now? If you want to try some other performance improvements, download CCleaner and run it and follow that up with a hard drive defrag. Reboot and hopefully you will be able to notice a difference in your computer. Good Luck and Surf Safe!
Help! The FBI locked out my computer!
Don't worry, this has nothing to do with the FBI. The FBI is not watching your computer and have not taken any action against you. You don't even have a virus. You have a newer form of malware that has been called RANSOMWARE. The purpose of "ransomware" is to hold your computer for ransom until you buy something or pay some made-up fine from the FBI. You are probably asking yourself how you got this thing since you have an antivirus program. To be honest, don't feel bad about your antivirus software: it is not designed to handle this kind of malware. Viruses and worms have distinct patterns and behavior and this newest form of ransomware performs nothing like them. You can scan all day with antivirus software and not find this evil little piece of software. It is designed to act like a regular program so if you have a free antivirus program, it won't see it as a virus. Your free anti-virus program is working just as good as the pay-for versions; you just need a different kind of hole patched. For any kind of software that holds your computer for ransom, whether it is the FBI version or the one that sends pop-ups to your desktop telling you the computer is infected with viruses and you need to go to a website and buy something to fix it, there is a simple fix: Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is designed to patch the holes that your antivirus leaves open. You can find a virus-free link to download Malwarebytes on our downloads page and the recommended free virus protection. Here is what you need to do to fix your computer.
- Restart your computer and press F8 before the Windows logo shows up. If you don't know when to press it, just press F8 every 3 seconds as your computer starts up, it won't hurt anything. Eventually if you did it right, you will get a black screen with white text and a selection of startup options, you want to look for "SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING". You will have to use the arrow keys as your mouse will not work yet.
- As safe-mode starts up, you will see a bunch of white text fly across the screen, don't worry. Give it some time and it will start your computer and open windows. Once you are in windows, download Malwarebytes and install it. Update it and then do a full scan. When it is done, reboot the computer and you should be all set. If for some reason you cannot get to the internet in safe mode, download Malwarebytes on a flash drive from another computer and install it that way.
If you have any issues or questions, check out our video page and find a walk-thru of starting in safe-mode and using Malwarebytes. Good Luck and Surf Safe!
I have a Mac and I need a free antivirus solution.
The MAC lovers would have you believe that MAC's don't get viruses but the truth is, they sometimes are the target of virus makers. Most major antivirus software makers also make a MAC version. If you are unsure where to start, you can find two free virus solutions below to help you.
- ClamXav (takes you to ClamXav site)
- Sophos Mac Home Edition (takes you to Sophos site)
I have a virus and I know the name of it.
If you know the name of the virus infecting your computer and it is a more common virus, your fastest solution may be to download the specific tool (takes you to Kaspersky's site) to help you.
If you don't find the name of your virus on that site, your next option would be to run a full computer scan with an updated antivirus program. If you don't have an antivirus program installed, go to our downloads page to find a free antivirus program to download and install.
I think I have a virus and have no idea what it is or how to get rid of it.
The first option I suggest is trying an online scanner. You can find a nice online scanner here (takes you to Trend Micro's site). This scanner will also delete the virus files unlike many other online scanners.
NOTE: If any of the key operating system files are infected, deleting the files could cause your computer to crash, and you may lose all of your data AND have to get your computer serviced. The chance of this happening is remote but I just wanted to make sure you realize that there is some risk involved. Most antivirus programs are forced with deleting the infected files so if you have anything that you don't want to lose, I suggest you back it up to CD or a USB flash drive before you start cleaning up the virus.
The second option you have is to try and install an anti-virus program. This does not have to cost you money and it is very easy to do. Check our free antivirus downloads page for the programs that we recommend and are free to non-commercial home use.
Pick one of these programs and install it on your computer. When you are finished, make sure it is updated and then let it run a virus scan. You will want to restart your computer when the scan is finished and run a second or third scan. Sometimes it takes several scans to get all the infected files on your computer fixed.
If you have never installed an anti-virus program, you can check out our videos page for free tutorials. They show you step by step how to install these programs and they show you how to update them, once you have them installed.
Nothing I do removes this virus!
Some infections on your computer are not from viruses. There are other forms of bad stuff out there on the internet that don't fit into the virus category and are hard for antivirus software to detect or clean. This stuff is known as malware. Some good examples of this are "Win XP AntiVirus 2009" and "Win PC Defender".
These programs are automatically downloaded and installed with another program, such as "that cool screensaver you saw on that one website." Once these programs are installed, they send pop-ups to your desktop telling you that you are badly infected and the only way to fix it is to go to their website and buy their software. BUYING THEIR SOFTWARE DOES NOT WORK! Don't do it!
The first thing you should try is updating your antivirus program and running a full scan of your computer SEVERAL times. Now why do I say try it several times? The first pass may clean a file that was used to hide other files, the first file got caught but the ones behind it did not. The guys writing these programs design them so some files can be found to make people believe they have cleaned it out. The truth is, they design them like an onion and you have to peel those suckers down to the core to be sure you got all of it.
If you have run several scans and you still think you are infected, then you need to start targeting your efforts in other directions. The next thing I would recommend is using a program called Malwarebytes. You can download this program here (takes you to Malwarebytes site).
If you have installed and run Malwarebytes and still think your computer is infected with malware, then you need to look for other programs such as SpyBot, which you can download here (takes you to Spybot's site).
The last cleaning option is to try an adware remover. I recommend Ad-Aware and you can download it here (takes you to Ad-Aware's site).
Each of these programs will probably catch something different on your computer; this is typical, as no single anti-spyware program is 100% reliable. If you have run several scans with an updated antivirus program, run Malwarebytes, Spybot and Ad-Aware and you still have something on your computer then there is only one way left to guarantee removal: you will have to reload your computer from disk.
This sounds more intimidating than it really is. I found a video showing you how to backup all your files that you can check out first. You will find it on our videos page. After you save all your files, you will want to start the process of reloading your computer. I have also found a video tutorial about doing this with Windows XP, which you will find with our other video walkthroughs.
Before you try reloading your computer, please watch each video all the way through to be sure you are comfortable with each procedure. If you are not comfortable doing this, there are cheaper ways of doing it. If you take it to the local retail electronics store, they will want roughly $200 to do this. I would recommend you find a community or technical college in your area and see if they train computer repair. If they do, ask to speak to the class instructor and see if he could recommend one of his students to do the work for you. Reloading a computer is not complicated to these students and most of them have already done this on their own computers several times before even starting college.
If that doesn't work, try posting on the church bulletin board that you need computer help, or ask friends if they know anyone who does computer repairs. Chances are that if you look around, you will find someone who would be willing to do it for $100 or less.
NOTE: Antivirus companies first find out about a virus and then they reverse engineer it and find out how it works. They then update their software to detect that specific virus and clean it. This causes a window between the time when a virus comes out and the time it takes the antivirus companies to find it, examine it and come up with a defense for it. During this window, you are open to infection and there is little you can do about it. This is why I always stress that you update your software as often as possible; both your operating system and your antivirus program.
I want to prevent future viruses or malware.
Don’t we all… First, grab a copy of Free Virus Protection software from my download page. Then, here is my best advice for preventing future infections:
- Make sure you have an updated antivirus program. Make sure you are manually checking to be sure it is updating. Pair the antivirus software with a malware program like malwarebytes. These two work great together and catch just about everything. Malwarebytes can be found near the bottom of my downloads page.
- Schedule a scan on your computer once per week.
- I am always on my computer Saturday mornings so I leave my computer on all night on Fridays and I schedule 3 scans to run during the night, one at 9:00pm, one at 1:00am and a last one at 5:00am on Saturday morning. Running three scans on Friday night has kept me clean for the last several years.
- Don't download junk! There is a reason why those screensaver sites let you download those things for free. They are infected with spyware to track what you are doing and that spyware opens holes on your computer for other stuff to come in through. After a few months of downloading all that spyware, your computer will be right back to running slowly and giving you problems.
- If you must download something, try it on a test computer. I have a very old computer in my basement and the only thing we use it for is to download things. Once we download something we scan it with the antivirus on the old computer, if it comes up clean I load it on a flash drive and move it over to my regular computer.
- Before I install it, I scan the flash drive when I attach it to my regular computer. If it passes, then I will install it. I know it sounds like a pain but it is not nearly as much of a pain as having your computer infected with a virus.
- Use a personal firewall. Windows comes with a firewall, make sure it is turned on. If you want a different one, try (both links take you to a new site) "Zone Alarm" or "Comodo's Personal Firewall".
- Don't ever download free music from p2p (Person to Person) sites like Morpheus or BearShare. These are popular programs that have a long history of spreading viruses to peoples' computers. If you have a teenager using your computer, this is probably how you are getting infected.
- Make sure your operating system is updated. Any protection program is only as strong as the base program that it is installed on. I'm talking Windows. I have gone over to help a friend and found he had never updated his operating system. Windows is the most popular operating system out there and everyday the bad guys are working on finding holes in it. Microsoft works to patch these holes but you have to do your part and download the patches. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out my video on updating your operating system.
- For the advanced user, you could always run a virtual machine and use that to test downloaded files. I don't trust my kids to use it so I am still using the old computer in the basement to download files. At work, we always download to a VM and test it before it ever goes on a computer on our network. If you want to try something like this, check out my video for step-by-step instructions.
My new computer came with free antivirus software, why is it not working?
I hear this all the time. Most people don't understand that the free antivirus program that came with your computer is a 90 day trial and it stops working after the first three months or it will not update after those 90 days. You are better off uninstalling it and loading up one of the free ones that I recommend on the free antivirus downloads page.
I have also found that the two most popular programs (Norton/Symantec and McAfee) are often targeted by virus makers. They design their bugs to disable these popular programs. We experienced this exact situation at a large medical practice where we were using Symantec's Corporate version of antivirus and updating it daily. We got hit with a bug and the first thing it did was disable our antivirus software. We had to purchase a second antivirus program and uninstall Symantec in order to defeat the bug. It's the same thing with Windows; people think it is bad because it gets targeted a lot, but the fact is, it gets targeted because most people use it. If most people used MAC or Linux, they would get targeted more, and then Windows would be the "safer choice of them all."
Which anti-virus program should I use?
That's really up to you. I suggest one of the free programs I have listed in my free antivirus downloads. They are given free to consumers in the hopes that you will be impressed with their performance and recommend them to the company you work for. The people who make them charge for the corporate editions and that's where they make their money. This is one of the few cases where I can honestly say you get much more than you pay for. I have been using AVG for three years and I have never had a virus. I run my computer everyday and I download stuff at least twice a week and it's still going strong.
I recently switched over to Avast and Avira on my kids computers and I am also very impressed with them. You could use any one of these three programs and be just as satisfied as if you paid $50 for a brand name application. Check out my downloads page for links to download these free virus protection programs.
I think my cell phone has a virus- what do I do?
The first thing you should do is run an antivirus scan. If you don't already have one, I recommend you get one before you run into an issue. There are many antivirus companies out there that also make a mobile version of their software. I've listed a few below to get you started. To find out more information about the products, click on the links below to take you to their site. (There are others available, obviously, but I wanted to keep this list with strictly the free ones)
Generally running a scan will remove the virus. Although there are viruses for mobile devices, they are less sophisticated than computer versions (which means that attacks on your phone require action on your part to advance them- downloading something or visiting an infected site). If you still haven't gotten rid of it, then doing a factory reset on your phone should do the trick.
*Note- Please understand that a factory reset deletes all the data and settings on your phone, and is irreversible. Apps that you have downloaded will no longer be there after the reset- you will need to reinstall them when finished. Backup any and all information you do not want to lose before doing a factory reset!
It's been said before, but it's important enough to mention again: Make sure you are reading all the permissions before you download an app. If you are confused about what is said, then do a little research before installing. It's not enough to just have an antivirus installed on your phone- you need to make sure that you are running scans and keeping it updated as well.
I need a FREE antivirus program that WORKS!
I need to get this out of the way: NOTHING STOPS EVERYTHING.
If your teenager is downloading infected music from free p2p (Person to Person) sites, then you run a large risk that you are going to get a virus, regardless of which program you are using.
Also make sure you are updating it and running scans at least once a week. If you don't, it is like buying a kitchen knife and leaving it to rust in the backyard: when you really need it, it's not going to work. Check the downloads page for free antivirus downloads.
What is the latest computer virus news?
There are several good virus news sites out there; check out our antivirus news page for the latest news and resources.
Will it help if I install two or more antivirus programs?
I'm not lying: A friend once told me he would never get a virus because he had five different antivirus programs running on his computer. This is a myth. Think of it like this: what would happen if you had five chefs in your kitchen all competing for the kitchens resources? It would be bad; just watch an episode of "Chopped" on Food Network to get an idea how this would work.
Virus programs use memory, take up hard drive space and utilize your processor. Some use more than others, and having more than one makes your computer slower. Most antivirus programs work using the same principle: they scan files for known signatures. Having two or more programs scan a file to see if it fits the same known signature does not help to detect an infected file.
I recommend having only one antivirus program installed, update it often and run a scan at least once a week. If you do this and keep your operating system updated, you will avoid 95% of the bad stuff out there.
I have "Vista Antivirus 2013" or "Antivirus Security" and can't get rid of it!
This bad boy is not really a virus, it is what we call "Malware". It is designed to make you think you have a virus so you will buy their product. DO NOT BUY THEIR PRODUCT! It doesnt help. This one is tough for virus scanners to detect since it is not actually a virus. The best thing to use is a great FREE program called "Malwarebytes", which you can download here (takes you to a new site). The first thing you want to do is download this and install it. Once you have it installed make sure to run an update and then scan your computer with it. Malwarebytes is designed to find this exact kind of evil little program and will get you all fixed up. I found a great video that gives you lots of information on youtube; I've embedded it below.
I have "Win 7 Home Security or Internet Security" and don't know how to get rid of it!
This program works exactly like the one above (Vista Antivirus 2013). It is not an actual virus, it is something we call Malware. It is a regular program that shows you false scans and tells you that you have a virus. You really don't have a virus, you just need to get rid of this program. The problem is, these little baddies embed themselves deep into the registry of your computer so they can come back if you try and remove parts of them. The only sure way to remove these evil little buggers is to use a great FREE program called "Malwarebytes". You can download this program from malwarebytes.org (takes you to their site). Once you have it installed and updated, simply run a scan while you go off and have some fun with some friends. When you come back in about 30 minutes it should have found all the little nooks and cranies where this bad program is hiding. Malwarebytes is a great addition to regular antivirus programs. If you don't have it installed yet on your computer, you may want to grab a copy. It is getting a lot of attention and may not be free much longer. It works GREAT!
For more information on this type of issue, please click here.
I just don't feel comfortable using free antivirus software, can you recommend something else?
If you must spend money, do it with a company that will offer good customer service. Below is a link to Consumer Search with the top 5 paid Antivirus Software programs. We have always had good experiences with Amazon and we highly recommend them for your purchases.
Top 5 Best Reviewed Antivirus Software Programs
How do I update my antivirus program?
Is there any money to be made in helping people remove viruses?
I found this page in the link below when I was doing my research. The site looks kind of cheesy but the idea is sound. Go to Google and do a search for the word “antivirus”. There are over 100 Million websites listed! Why so many? Because people are always getting infected. There is definitely job security in the virus removal field. The local electronics store in my area charges anywhere from $125 to $250 to remove a virus AND they don’t guarantee that the virus will not come back. I don’t think you will become rich doing this kind of work but if you do it like me and just use it as a side business, you can make some very nice play money.
I charge $75 if someone drops it off at my house or $100 if I have to go and pick it up. I have been doing it for a while now so my name is out there in my area. I get roughly 3 computers per week. I don’t clean them; I wipe and reload them to be sure the virus is gone. I ask the customer to back up their own files and all I do is wipe and reload with the installation disks. I use a KVM switch and I can do four at a time in my basement in less than 2 hours while I watch TV. If you think you might like to get into something like this, click on the links below and check it out.
NOTE: I do NOT sell these products and I have never met or talked to the people who do. I just came across this site and thought someone out there might be interested in doing something like this. I have never purchased these products. I am just saying the idea is sound and if it looks like something you would be interested in, you should check it out. It only costs a few dollars and if you are looking to make some money on the side, I can say this “cleaning computers thing” has made me some nice play money.
I can not get Norton to uninstall! I think it is possessed! HELP!.
Norton antivirus is a nice product but sometimes this baby just doesn't want to let go of your PC. Its like that nasty wad of gum you step on the sidewalk in the summer, it sticks like its life depends on it! No problem, Norton has a tool to help you remove their software in case this happens. You can click below to find the tool. Good Luck!
One last thing to mention...
There is a lot of bad information out there about computer viruses, free antivirus protection and free virus scan and removal products. I had a friend the other day telling me how bad McAfee is because it allowed the FBI ransomware to infect his computer. No anti-virus product can find the FBI ransomware because it is a normal program and NOT a virus. You need a malware finder like Malwarebytes to stop that kind of thing. It is like saying your screwdriver sucks because it won't help you change a flat tire. Anti virus software is not designed to stop malware, just like a screwdriver is not designed to remove lug nuts. It doesn't matter if the antivirus protection is free, it just doesn't work that way most of the time. I have had friends working in large companies tell me how bad some antivirus products were because several users got infected when using paid-for versions of Avast or AVG. When a user downloads a free screensaver that has a virus packaged inside it, there is not much you can do. When that user tells others in the company where she got that cool screensaver and they start downloading viruses too, it is not the anti virus software's fault. Free programs are often used as a sort of Trojan horse to sneak virus programs past your defenses. It is the users who need training and you should not fault your antivirus program. I have had people buy a new computer and get infected 4 months later and tell me how bad some antivirus product was. When I pointed out that new laptop only came with a free 3 month trial version of the antivirus product and that it stopped working after that, they seemed surprised. They never even checked if the antivirus product was a full version or even checked to be sure that it was updated.
Lastly, I have had people complain to me about computer viruses and then when I look at their computer I find a few disturbing issues. The first being that they never update their computer's operating system. I actually have a friend who called me over in late 2012 and when I checked his computer, he was running the base version of Windows XP and had never installed any of the 3 service packs full of security fixes. I have also found antivirus protection programs that have not been updated to find the latest viruses. This has been fixed by most antivirus makers today by forcing the products to update themselves since many people just don't understand that antivirus programs are only as effective as their updates. Finally, I find peer to peer software like Morpheus and Limewire that allow people to download free music and movies. This kind of stuff on your computer is like wearing a meat necklace and jumping into a lions cage: someone is going to get hurt. Here is a quick summary of important topics:
- Free virus scan and removal products work just as good as paid-for versions as far as virus protection goes. You just don't get the extra bells and whistles like website checking.
- Update your computers operating system. Click on "start" then "all programs" and then look for the "windows update" option and click it.
- Update your anti-virus software and run a manual scan. Schedule a weekly scan if possible.
- Even the strongest security software allows users to do stupid things and infect themselves. Don't steal music or movies from sharing sites.
- No matter what kind of anti-virus protection you are using, paid-for or FREE virus scan, pair it up with Malwarebytes for extra security. Malwarebytes is designed to work WITH your antivirus software and fill the gaps it leaves open.