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PC Help for Dummies: I Think I have a Virus!

written by: KateG•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 11/30/2008

So, you think that you got yourself a virus. Well in this piece we will look at what you can do to make things right again and save your system.

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    Wow, you got a virus! You must have done something pretty bad to end up with that. No, no, I am just playing with you. Getting a virus is a pretty common occurrence and it can happen to the best of us. What you do about a virus can make the very real difference between getting your system healthy again and ending up back at your nearest big box store getting a new machine. If you go with these steps you have a good shot at making things better again.

    Step One: Confirm that you really do have a virus and find out which one it is.

    A lot of the problems that people think are the result of a virus can be caused by other problems so if your system has complaints like it is slow and you think that this is caused by a virus then you have to check. Actually, even if you know that it is you are going to have to do it anyway so that you can get the name of the virus that you are looking at. See a virus is like Rumplestillskin, once you know its name, you have power over it. Your virus scan should be able to get you that name so run it, I’ll wait here.

    Step Two: Look up your solution

    The software that identifies your virus may offer to fix that problem for you automatically. If the system does happen to extend that offer then all is well in the world. You, my friend, have lucked out on an epic scale and you should by all means let the software do the heavy lifting. Go get a drink while it works and you don’t have to read any further if you don’t want to.

    If your system will give you a name, but not a fix, then you will have to do a bit of fieldwork.

    Should your system come with a link to information about the virus then go for it and follow these instructions to eliminate your virus. If however, all you have is a name, you are going to have some research. This means putting the name of the virus, also know as the definition file, into a reliable search. One good site that list definition files and solutions is:


    If the site does not have a specific research feature simply go to google and put in both the URL and the name of the virus. This should find you the correct page. Once you have those instructions, follow them to the letter and don’t improvise. If the instructions are too complex or if none can be found, which does on the odd occasion happen, then you are going to have to take it to a professional to get it fixed.