If you’ve got a computer virus, it is not the end of the world. You don’t even have to feel bad! Even the most savvy computer users will probably get one at some point. Here is what you can do to save your data and fix that virus.
Step 1: Save the data!
If you can boot in to your computer and get some usability out of it you’re in decent shape. The first thing you want to do is copy your Documents, pictures, movies, music, and any other documents you need to keep. I don’t recommend backing up anything in the downloads folder, as you may accidentally copy the file that gave you the virus in the first place.
If you can’t get in to your computer, try accessing your drive via another computer. This would require removing your hard drive and plugging it into another computer as a secondary drive. You would then be able to access the files and copy them just like above.
Step 2: Remove that malicious software!
Depending on the virus/malware, you may be able to just remove it. We find that most of the time it is easier and sometimes faster to just wipe out the computer and reinstall windows. Instead of going that route, I am going to focus on helping you remove the malicious software.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to not do any sensitive activities on your computer. I would highly recommend not doing ANY banking, or even typing in your password to facebook or email. Some malware can record your keystrokes, and the last thing you want is a virus to compromise other aspects of your life.
The next thing you’ll want to do is create a rescue disk. AVG and Kaspersky labs make very good ones. These discs allow your computer to boot into a very safe operating system, where they can scan the computer safely and remove any malicious software without risk. You can get these from https://www.avg.com/en-ww/download.prd-arl. or from http://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/rescuedisk. Remember to burn the CD as an ISO image.
Load the burned CD into your computer and follow the instructions. You’ll generally want to scan the whole disk and repair or delete the bad files (you can usually just follow the recommended option).
Once everything has been cleaned, run the scan again to be thorough. I generally scan with both AVG and Kaspersky.
Sometimes, after using a rescue CD, you will not be able to boot into windows. In this case, try booting into safe mode first by pressing f8 while the computer is booting. If you still cannot log in, you’re almost required to reinstall. The next thing you can try is to install that drive in another machine as a secondary drive and run check disk on it. Before you do that, scan the drive with an antivirus program to be even more thorough. To do run check disk, select the drive on the other computer, go to properties->tools->Error-Checking->check now, and let it run.
If it STILL doesn’t boot, you’re pretty much out of luck and have to reinstall. Hopefully you got the data that you needed off of your computer.
See you all next week!