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How to tell if your computer has a virus?

Mitch Avatar By: Mitch | Last updated December 18, 2022

computer coding on a screen


Computer viruses are malicious code or software designed to cause damage, disruption and/or unauthorized access to a computer system. A virus is often spread through email attachments, downloads and flash drives, making it easy for innocent users to become infected without knowing. But without knowing the signs of a compromised computer you might not even know that you have been infected. 

Though there isn’t one foolproof way of protecting your computer from viruses, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the chances of getting infected. Knowing the signs of infection will help you quickly identify any malicious software in your system before it further damages your data files or hardware components. Find out what a virus is, how to remove one if you get one, and ways you can prevent infections from happening in our easy to follow guide.

If you don't want to read the full explanation, you can quickly check out our list of the best internet security programs we have reviewed. Either way, we hope that we can help you stay safe, and your system clean.

Signs of a virus infection in your system

First things first, let's look at what symptoms your system might be displayed if you have been infected with a virus. Sometimes you might have annoying pop-ups, slow performance, and data corruption that seem to be coming from out of nowhere. Sadly these are all common symptoms of an infected computer and are pretty annoying when they start impacting your computer. The biggest signs of an infection are when your system starts to feel really bogged down. Many times malicious programs will execute programs in the background which take up your system's performance. Redirects to random sites are another sign that you might have a bad program running on your system as well. 

But it's not always so obvious; many viruses exist that can remain undetected for weeks or even months before they do any damage. Some infections stay silent in the background and copy your passwords and data, all while your computer seems to be in good condition. This is why you might want to look more into the continual maintenance that you can take to ensure you don't have infections silently attacking your system.

How to get rid of a virus from your computer

Ok, now you've got to the point where you are pretty sure you have a virus on your system but what can you do now? Like most things in life, prevention is better than treatment, but it isn't the end of the world if you have an infection. We would first suggest either installing an antivirus program or updating your current one.

Antivirus programs detect, block and remove any malicious software that might be present on your computer’s hard drive. They constantly monitor activity and scan files for signs of danger, alerting you if anything suspicious is found. Most antivirus services are powerful enough to detect even the newest threats, so it’s important to have one installed to ensure maximum security and peace of mind.

Now that your Antivirus program is updated or installed, we suggest running a thorough or deep scan. This will sometimes require a restart of your system to ensure it can get to as much of the memory as possible. Once this is completed, you should be able to remove the virus that has been identified.

How to prevent infections

Preventing infections is the best step to keeping your system secure. Taking the right steps to ensure you don't get infected can save you time and hassle, and knowing the best prevention methods will make it easier to see if your computer has a virus in the first place so that you can take action quickly and avoid any long-term damage.

The most important thing is to stay ahead of the newest infections by regularly updating your software and running anti-virus scans on your machine. Ensure all your programs have their latest updates will prevent exploits from being used to load malicious programs onto your system. It’s also important to back up all important files so that you won't lose anything valuable even if something goes wrong, as sometimes infections can be so bad that you lose files and need to reformat your system.


Protecting your computer is the best thing that you can do to prevent your system from getting infected, but sometimes you just open an email without thinking and before you know it your system is infected. Mistakes happen, and it isn't the end of the world but the sooner you can get rid of the virus the better off yo will be.

Regular steps to ensure your device is secure will help you avoid potentially dangerous viruses and malware threats. The first step towards protecting your device is understanding the most common signs of a virus infection. By being aware of symptoms such as sluggish performance, pop-up advertisements, or changes in hard drive activity, you can quickly identify when something may be wrong and take the necessary steps to remove the virus.

Additionally, keeping up with regular maintenance tasks such as running anti-virus scans and updating software can help prevent future infections. If you follow these steps you should be pretty safe while you are online, but always remember to try to keep your security software up to date and do regular system scans.