How to get rid of a computer virus

Updated February 21, 2017

Computer viruses come in many forms and can cause various kinds of damage to your system. Fortunately, most viruses are easily dealt with and effective methods for eliminating them are often developed as soon as the viruses are discovered. If you think your computer may be infected, take any necessary steps to clear your system and avoid infecting other computers.

Visit your virus-scan software manufacturer's Web site and install any virus updates that are available. Then run the software. The software may not be able to delete the virus, but it may be able to identify it.

Search the Web for information regarding your specific virus by typing the name of the virus or its associated file into a search engine followed by the word "virus." For example, "Melissa virus," "BubbleBoy virus," etc.

Download and install any patches or other programs that will help you eliminate the virus. Or follow any instructions you find on deleting the virus manually.

Run another virus scan to make sure the virus has been dealt with properly.


If you think your computer was affected with an e-mail virus that mails itself to people in your e-mail address book, contact those people and tell them not to open the messages or attachments. Web based email usually has built in virus scanning so viruses never reach your machine.


Generally, deleting the file that caused the virus isn't sufficient to eliminate the problem, since many viruses can create new files or corrupt existing files. Your best bet is to use anti-virus software or specific online instructions. Avoid sending out any e-mails until you have properly eliminated the virus. Many viruses can attach themselves to outgoing messages without your knowledge, causing you to unwittingly infect the computers of your friends and colleagues.

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