How to Properly Scan Your Computer for Malware

Get rid of your computer from Trojans, viruses, spyware, etc.

Thoroughly and correctly scanning your computer for viruses and other malware such as Trojans, rootkits, spyware, worms, etc. is often a very important troubleshooting step. A “simple” antivirus scan will no longer suffice.

Many forms of malware cause or present as seemingly unrelated problems with Windows and PCs, such as blue screens of death, DLL file issues, crashes, unusual hard drive activity, unknown screens or pop-ups, and other serious Windows problems. check your computer for malware when working to fix many problems.

If you can’t connect to your computer, see the section at the bottom of this page for help.

These are general steps to scan and remove malware from your PC and should also apply to Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8 (including Windows 8.1), Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

How to scan your computer for viruses, trojans and other malware

Properly scanning your PC for viruses and other malware is easy and can take several minutes or more. The more files you have and the slower your computer is, the longer the scan will take.

Should you back up your files before running a virus scan? See the section at the bottom of this page for a discussion of this.

Download and run the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. There are two versions to choose from depending on whether you’re using a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows (find out which one you have):

32 bit

64 bit

This free malware removal tool provided by Microsoft won’t find everything, but it will search for specific “common malware,” which is a good start.

You may have already installed the Malicious Software Removal Tool. If so, be sure to update it with Windows Update so it can check for the latest malware.

One way to speed up the scanning process is to delete temporary files so that the antimalware program doesn’t have to scan all that unnecessary data. Although it is not common, if the virus is stored in a temporary folder, you can even remove the virus immediately before starting the scan.

Update your antivirus/antimalware software installed on your computer.

Avira free security on Windows 10

Before running a full virus/malware scan, you should ensure that your virus definitions are up to date. These regular updates tell your antivirus software how to find and remove the latest viruses from your PC.

Definition Updates usually It happens automatically, but not always. Some malware will even specifically target this feature as part of its infection! Look for a To update button or menu item to start the process of checking and updating your antivirus program.

Don’t have an antivirus installed? Download one now! There are several free antivirus programs available, such as AVG and Avira Free Security, and many can be used on a free trial basis, so there’s no excuse not to run one. On that note, stick to an. It may seem like a good idea to run multiple antivirus programs at the same time, but in reality it often causes problems and should be avoided.

run a finished antivirus scan on your whole computer.

If you have another non-persistent anti-malware tool (that doesn’t always run), such as SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes, run that too when you’re done.

Screenshot of SUPERAntiSpyware

SUPER Anti-Spyware.

Don’t just run the default quick system scan, which may not include many important parts of your PC. Check that you are scanning each part from Every hard drive and other storage devices connected to your computer.

Specifically, make sure that any antivirus scan includes the Master Boot Record, the boot sector, and all applications running in memory. These are particularly sensitive areas of your computer that can harbor the most dangerous malware.

Can’t connect to your computer to run a scan?

Your computer may be infected to the point that you are unable to log into the operating system effectively. These are the most serious viruses that prevent the operating system from starting, but you should not worry because you have some options that will still work to get rid of the infection.

Since some viruses load into memory when the computer first starts up, you can try booting into safe mode if you’re using Windows. This should stop any threats from loading automatically when you first log in and allow you to follow the steps above to get rid of viruses.

Make sure you start Windows on Safe mode with networking if you have not yet downloaded the tool from step 1 or if you do not have an antivirus program installed. You will need network access to download files from the Internet.

Another option to scan for viruses when you don’t have access to Windows is to use a free bootable antivirus program. These are programs that run from portable devices, such as disks or flash drives, that can scan a hard drive for viruses without starting the operating system.

More help with virus and malware scanning

If you’ve scanned your entire computer for viruses, but think it’s still infected, try a free on-demand antivirus. These tools are great steps to take when you’re pretty sure your computer is still infected, but your installed antivirus program hasn’t detected it.

Malwarebytes free virus scanner


An online antivirus scan with tools like VirusTotal or MetaDefender Cloud is another step you can take, at least in situations where you have a good idea of ​​which file(s) might be infected. It’s less likely to fix the problem, but it’s worth trying as a last resort – it’s free and easy to do.

VirusTotal scan results

If the virus doesn’t seem to want to be removed by our suggestions, consider disconnecting from the Internet so the malware can’t communicate with a remote server and further infect your computer. Just make sure that if you do this, you first download and update everything related to the antivirus program, then just log out for the duration of the antivirus scan.

Not sure whether to quarantine, delete or clean the virus? Follow this link for more information on what these terms mean. You may regret permanently removing a “virus” if it is actually a harmless hoax.

You also always have the option to erase your entire hard drive and start fresh with a fresh OS, but you don’t only if you can’t remove the virus from your computer. For obvious reasons, wiping the hard drive will erase all your files. However, it is a solid method of getting rid of viruses that can’t seem to be cleaned by antivirus tools.

Should I make a backup before running virus scans?

Backing up your computer before a scan might seem helpful. After all, you don’t want your documents, videos, photos, etc. important are removed with viruses.

Although making a backup can be useful before a virus scan, be very careful than you back off The last thing you want is to back up all your computer files and then delete the viruses, so they stay in the backup and come back in a restore!

Unfortunately, unless you know exactly what’s infected on your computer, you won’t know what’s safe to keep and what’s best left on your computer to scan for malware.

One thing you can do to make sure your most important files are backed up is to only copy those items to an external hard drive or back them up online, but leave most of your files where they are. However, virus scanning alone is unlikely to corrupt your files.

Another way to look at this is to back up anything you want and then run a virus scan on your computer. If anything is found, note which files are infected, then delete or scan the backed up files as well to make sure the threats are gone from both the originals and backups.

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