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How to remove malware from your Windows PC

Clean out and restore your PC to its pristine state.

Step 5: Fix your web browser

Malware infections can damage Windows system files and other settings. One common malware trait is to modify your web browser’s homepage to reinfect the PC, display advertisements, prevent browsing, and generally annoy you.

Before launching your web browser, check your homepage and connection settings. For Internet Explorer right-click the Windows 10 Start button and select Control Panel, then Internet Options. Find the Home Page settings in the General tab, and verify that it’s not some site you know nothing about. For Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, simply go to the setttings window of your browser to check your homepage setting.

IE Home Page SettingsMake sure that your homepage settings are correct before launching Internet Explorer.
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Step 6: Recover your files if Windows is corrupt

If you can’t seem to remove the malware or if Windows isn’t working properly, you may have to reinstall Windows. But before wiping your hard drive, copy all of your files to an external USB or flash drive. If you check your email with a client program (such as Outlook or Windows Mail), make sure that you export your settings and messages to save them. You should also back up your device drivers with a utility such as Double Driver, in case you don’t have the driver discs anymore or don’t want to download them all again. Remember, you can’t save installed programs. Instead, you’ll have to reinstall the programs from discs or redownload them.

If Windows won’t start or work well enough to permit you to back up your files, you may create and use a Live CD, such as Hiren’s BootCD (HBCD), to access your files.

Once you have backed up everything, reinstall Windows either from the disc that came with your PC, by downloading the installation image from Microsoft, or by using your PC’s factory restore option, if it has one. For a factory restore you typically must press a certain key on the keyboard during the boot process in order for restore procedure to initialize, and your PC should tell you what key to press in the first few seconds after you turn it on. It there’s no on-screen instructions consult your manual, the manufacturer, or Google. 

Keeping your PC clean

Always make sure that you have a real-time antivirus program running on your PC, and make sure this program is always up-to-date. If you don’t want to spend money on yearly subscriptions, you can choose one of the many free programs that provide adequate protection, such as Avast, AVG, Panda, or Comodo. You can read more about how to find the best antivirus program for your needs right here

In addition to installing traditional antivirus software, you might consider using the free OpenDNS service to help block dangerous sites. And if you frequent shady sites that might infect your PC with malware, consider running your web browser in sandbox mode to prevent any downloaded malware from harming your system. Some antivirus programs, such as Comodo, offer sandboxing features, or you can obtain them through a free third-party program such as Sandboxie.

When you think that you’ve rid your PC of malware infections, double-check your online accounts, including those for your bank, email, and social networking sites. Look for suspicious activity and change your passwords—because some malware can capture your passwords.

If you have a backup system in place that automatically backs up your files or system, consider running virus scans on the backups to confirm that they didn’t inadvertently save infections. If virus scans aren’t feasible, as is the case with online systems since they usually will only scan a drive attached to your PC or just the C: drive, consider deleting your old backups and resetting the software to begin saving new backups that are hopefully free from infections.

Keep Windows, other Microsoft software, and Adobe products up-to-date. Make sure that you have Windows Update turned on and enabled to download and install updates automatically. If you’re not comfortable with this, set Windows to download the updates but let you choose when to install them. 



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