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What is a computer Virus?

Mitch Avatar By: Mitch | Last updated March 22, 2023

laptop with computer virus on it


We live in a world that is always changing, so it has never been more important to know about computer security. As technology gets better, so do the bad things that cybercriminals do to take advantage of people who don't know what they're doing.  These criminals often use computer viruses, which are pieces of bad software made to mess up or damage systems and networks. This article will provide an overview of what exactly a computer virus is, as well as how you can protect yourself from them.

We want to make sure that our readers know how dangerous computer viruses can be and give them the tools they need to stay safe online. Computer viruses are not only bad for your personal information, but they can also cost you money if you don't fix them. By educating ourselves about computer viruses, we can give ensure that you are being as safe as possible while you are online.

So let’s dive into this topic together! We’ll look at some of the basics, such as what a computer virus actually is—its features, behaviors, and effects—before moving onto ways to prevent infection and reduce the risk associated with it. With this information at hand, you’ll have all the tools necessary to stay protected against any malicious activity that may come your way. And if you are here looking for more specific information like the best antivirus programs for businesses , make sure you check out our other guide as there are a bit different aspects that must be included in your reviews.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a piece of malicious software that copies itself and moves from one computer to another. It can mess up data, damage files on a machine it infects, or even give hackers access to private information. In short, it’s an unwelcome intruder that can wreak havoc with your PC and do a wide variety of bad things.

To understand what a computer virus is, you first need to know what "malware" is. Malware is any type of software code that is made to change or stop a computer from working normally without permission. Types of malware include viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and ransomware. A computer virus falls into this category as its primary purpose is to copy itself over and over again until it has infiltrated all systems connected by a network or internet connection. We have actually just finished up a full write up on our guide to malware, so make sure you check it out if you are getting interested in your computer's security.

Computer viruses are often spread through email attachments, instant messages, USB drives, or other external media like CDs and DVDs.They may also be unknowingly downloaded from websites when users visit certain web pages where malicious code lies dormant in the background. Once loaded onto a device, the virus will remain active until removed through anti-virus programs, which require timely updates for maximum protection against new strains of malicious code released each day.

At its most basic level: a computer virus is a digital infection that is made by cyber criminals to do bad things like steal identities and steal money.If these invaders aren't stopped, the loss of data alone could cost businesses millions if nothing is done.

Types of Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are just like the common cold, there are lots of different types and they can spread easily. You don't want to get them, and you don't want others to get them. So just like there are colds, flus, and other sicknesses there are different types of infections PCs can get. Either way, you don't want to get sick, and you don't want your computer to get infected.

  • Trojan horses are bad programs that look like they are harmless or helpful but are actually full of code that can hurt your computer or steal information. These often come under a disguise, with harmless titles of images like cute dog pictures, or something that makes you click the image and unknowingly installing the software.

  • Malware removal: Malware is any type of software that is made to hurt computers or get into them without permission. It includes everything from Trojans to ransomware attacks and more. Specialized tools exist to help remove these threats from your system.

  • Adware programs are often put on your computer without your knowledge, usually when you click on pop-up ads while surfing the web. It usually shows ads that you don't want to see and may collect personal information about you so that those ads can be more relevant.

  • Ransomware attacks: Ransomware is malware that encrypts all the files on your hard drive and then demands money (usually through cryptocurrency) in exchange for decrypting them again.

  • Spyware programs: Spyware secretly monitors what you do online and sends this information back to its creator, who could be an individual hacker or a criminal organization looking for valuable data such as credit card numbers or passwords.

No matter which type of virus threatens your security, it’s important to invest in good antivirus software and practice safe computing habits so that you’re better protected against cyberattacks! This is what we will now go over, now that you have a bit more info as to the types of viral infections you can get.  Here is a fun video that goes over some common aspects of computer viruses'

How to avoid getting infected

Now that we have discussed the types of computer viruses, let’s move on to prevention and detection. Any user who wants to keep their data safe from malicious cyberattacks needs to take steps to prevent viruses.

The best way to do this is by installing antivirus software on your device and running regular scans. This will help detect any viruses or malware on the system before it has a chance to cause damage. It can also prevent infections if you have real-time protection, so the virus can't even get into your system. 

Keeping up with security patches that the operating system provider sends out is another good way to avoid getting infected. These are released regularly, so make sure you’re checking for updates frequently.

You should also try to avoid downloading suspicious files or programs, as these could contain hidden viruses. Be aware of phishing emails too, which can trick users into giving away sensitive information like passwords or bank details.

One thing that isn't as much about prevention as a safety plan is to back up your important files regularly. If for some reason you do get infected you might have to reinstall your system, and lose your valuable files. This is why we suggest saving files you can't live without separately, whether it is on an external USB drive or in the cloud. 


As you can see there really isn't anything positive to say about computer viruses. You don't want to get infected, and if you do you want to have a plan on how to fix it. Prevention is the best course of action, and backing up important files is a good plan in case you do get one of these types of malicious programs on your system. 

If you want to find out who we think is the best antivirus program on the market right now, make sure you check out our reviews as we have done a bunch of different tests to see who is the best for our visitors. It is always best to try to avoid viruses' but we know that even the best laid out plans can sometimes be exploited, as hackers will never stop trying new ways to infect everyday users.