I’m often asked to help remove viruses and malware from laptops and PCs. Removing viruses can be a quite complicated due to the viruses ability to alter system settings, and even become invisible to antivirus software. Usually I’ll set aside a good 3-4 hours to ensure I can determine what infections there are and that the virus removal is complete, but this can be more if data backup and recovery is also required.

For simplicity I’ll assume that a backup and restore is not required.

IMPORTANT: If you have important data on your PC or Laptop you should back it up BEFORE carrying out any of the next steps.

I cannot accept any responsibility for loss of data or information should you choose to follow this guide. 

How do you know if you have a virus?

Usually infected PC’s and Laptops have a number of symptoms:

  • Slower than normal operation, especially when connected to the Internet
  • Antivirus Software stops running
  • Spam emails are sent without your knowledge

Some viruses contain “key-logging” software to record you typing passwords or sensitive financial details such as credit card information. These are sent back to a central location on a predetermined schedule. Other viruses turn your PC or laptop into a unwitting dumb bot to attack and distrupt websites and institutions in DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

Regardless of the virus, malware or trojan thats causing the problems I follow the same basic routine to remove it.  Before you start any antivirus removal it’s handy to have a second PC and USB stick for downloads and file copying.

First steps

1. Switch off the infected PC.

2. Beg or borrow a second clean PC or laptop to download antivirus software.

3. Beg or borrow a usb stick to load up with virus recovery software


Download a couple of free portable antivirus tools using the borrowed PC and save them to the usb drive. I usually use at least 2 antivirus tools and an anti-malware tool to remove and double check successful removal.

Some Free Portable Antivirus Tools

Download the following tools and save them to a usb drive.

Vipre Antivirus

McAfee Stinger

Emsisoft Emergency Kit

Clamwin Portable

Sophos Anti Rootkit

Spybot Search & Destroy

Virus Removal Steps


1. Start the PC or Laptop

Boot up your PC or laptop and press the F8 key (at the top of your keyboard) during windows startup. You need to be quite quick doing this otherwise Windows will boot normally.

If successful you’ll be prompted with a black screen asking which boot mode you want to use.

Select “Safe Mode” NOT “Safe Mode with Networking”.

Windows will boot into a basic troubleshooting mode.

If prompted Log in as the main account that was setup first when you bought the PC.

2. Run the first antivirus program

Plug in the USB stick and run your chosen portable antivirus program from the USB drive.

The antivirus program will scan the PC or laptop and report any infections and removals.

After scanning has completed, restart the PC in “Safe Mode” again.

3. Run the anti Malware program

Perform a Malware Scan using Spybot Search & Destroy, again by running it from the USB stick (you can optionally backup the registry before running it).

After Spybot has completed scanning successfully, again restart the PC and boot to “Safe Mode”.

4. Run the second antivirus program

Perform a second antivirus scan using a DIFFERENT antivirus scanner than the first time. Hopefully this should return no virus infections which would indicate a clean machine.

5. Finally

Finally, restart your PC normally and log in to Windows. It should be quicker, and now be free of viruses. If you are still encountering problems there may be a more serious infection that would need further investigation by a specialist.

Prevent future virus infections


Install Microsoft Security Essentials & Keep it updated

Most people with Viruses use Windows and there are loads of commercial antivirus offerings out there. Personally, I don’t think they add any more protection than the Microsoft Security Essentials tool which is free.  On successful removal I usually recommend removing any previous antivirus product and installing Microsoft Security Essentials.

Switch on Windows Firewall

After virus removal it’s critical that the windows firewall is turned on and STAYS ON.

Be Aware

  • Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know, or where the emails are written in an unfamiliar style.
  • Dont’ download and use files from torrents or file sharing websites.
  • Keep your antivirus software updated
  • Keep your firewall on

Hope this helps some people  - if you’re not successful or would like some help feel free to contact me.

– Michael

Eighty : Twenty is a Business & Technology company providing digital marketing & IT support services to companies and private clients in the Northwest of England. Eighty : Twenty can provide Antivirus removal and IT Support services to clients in Preston, Manchester and surrounding areas.