written by: Finn Orfano•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 6/21/2010
Advice for both consumers and technicians for dealing with virus or malware infected computers.
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Virus and Malware Infections
When it comes to paying for computer maintenance, you may worry about the costs such as how much for computer virus removal. If you are a technician trying to determine normal rates for computer virus removal, there are many things to consider. Either way, the job is as different as the virus or malware you are trying to remove. Sometimes it takes hours and sometimes only a few minutes. Here are some things to consider where you are doing the billing or paying the bill.
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Here are a few examples of pretty common computing scenarios: You can’t get on the web without being inundated with pornographic pop-up windows. Perhaps some security software you’ve never heard of says you have a dozen different viruses, and paying for an upgrade will get rid of them all. When you try to diagnose the problem yourself with utilities like the Registry Editor or Task Manager, something automatically closes them. If you’re having any of these problems, it means your computer is infected with a virus or malware.
If you don’t know how to fix the problem yourself, then you may need to call for help. If you have data that needs to be copied off the hard drive, then you really need help. No matter what the case, it’s going to cost money if you have to pay someone else to fix it. Personally, I wouldn’t pay more than $100.
Don’t let yourself get taken by greedy PC techs. Be sure to get an up-front quote before you let anybody do any work on your system. The reason for this is that most experienced computer technicians should already have a solid idea of what they need to do to get your computer working again. There’s no point in paying somebody more than what a computer is even worth just to get it running again, because I have seen some ridiculous price quotes for otherwise basic services. Haggle if you must, but don’t get ripped off.
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Joe Blow just walked into your shop with a computer that he says is infected. You and I both know that all you really need to do is drop the hard drive in a spare PC and connect it as a slave drive, then let a few different (and mostly free) security programs do a full scan to get rid of most troublesome viruses and malware. The process will take several hours depending on how big and/or how old the hard drive is. You’ve got the customer in a vulnerable spot, but don’t take advantage. That’s not cool.
If you were to charge by the hour, then charge by the actual amount of time you spend in front of the computer, and not for the total scan time of all the programs you use. Maybe you should even decide on a flat rate to charge for virus removal. Sometimes all you have to do is recreate a user profile and copy over the contents of their Desktop, My Documents and Favorites folders. If you get really lucky, they might have a restore disc you can use to wipe the hard drive and reinstall everything.
I recommend that you decide on a base rate to charge, then advertise it and you’d be surprised how many people have infected computers these days. Be sure to clearly identify the symptoms and you’re bound to gain a few new customers. Don’t rip anyone off and you might wind up with repeat business later on.
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If you just spent any amount of money to have a virus removed from your computer, you should look into getting some security software. Most security suites that include antivirus, antimalware, and firewall protection all cost less than what you’d pay a technician to do a one-time cleaning. Besides that, it’s a smart thing to have so that your PC doesn’t get infected or compromised again. Learn from your mistakes, and be prepared for the next attack because new viruses and malware pop up every day.