Nearly everyone will experience some sort of malware infection on one of their computers, but if you know what to do you can remove a virus from your PC or laptop yourself.

If you can still get into Windows and have access to the internet, continue reading. If your PC won't function or start up properly or you can't get online click this link: remove a virus from a non-working Windows PC.

Not sure if it's a virus? Here are a few things that indicate malware is at work:

  • Windows is running abnormally slowly
  • You're seeing lots of pop-up messages that you didn't see before
  • Programs start up that you don't recognise

How to remove a virus from your laptop or PC

If you have antivirus software installed, run a scan. If that fails to detect anything, follow these steps carefully and in order, and do not restart your machine until you've completed every step:

  1. Some malicious programs will actively try and stop you removing them. To combat this download and run rkill
  2. Download and install the latest version of Malwarebytes. Launch the program, then go to Settings > Protecton > Scan for rootkits. Return to the dashboard and click Scan Now
  3. Install and launch Malwarebytes ADWcleaner, then click Scan

How to remove a virus when Windows doesn't work

If you can't get into Windows to run a virus scan, you'll need to create a recovery tool that you can use to boot up your computer. Of course, you will need access to a second PC or laptop and either a blank CD or DVD or a USB drive.

Download the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool

If you’re using a writable CD or DVD, insert it into the drive (of the second computer). Browse to the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool file you just downloaded, right-click NBRT.iso and choose 'Burn disc image'. In the Windows Image Burner select the disc drive and click Burn.

If you’re using a USB drive instead of a disc you should download and install the Rufus tool. 

Insert a USB flash drive (which will be wiped in the process). Under Format Options select 'ISO Image' from the drop-down menu next to 'Create a bootable disk using'. Click the disc drive icon, navigate to the Norton Boot Recovery Tool file and select NBRT.iso. Click Start, then Ok.

Now insert your recovery disc or USB drive into the infected PC

Power on the machine, but rather than letting it start up normally you want to enter the BIOS menu. A key on your keyboard - often F2 but you should see a message on-screen telling you which key to press - will allow you to open the BIOS.

Navigate the Boot options, then select the disc or USB drive as the first drive.

Save your changes and exit the BIOS. Your machine will now boot up from the specified drive.

If a boot menu appears on the 'Welcome to NBRT page' select Boot, then follow the prompts to begin a scan

Once complete you'll be presented with any found threats and recommended next steps. Be sure to 'fix' only genuine threats because your actions cannot be undone.

Once you're happy with your selections click Fix, and OK when prompted for confirmation. Click Reboot when the process has finished

How to stop your Windows computer getting another virus

The best way to keep your computer safe on the internet is to ensure that your antivirus is up to date. Windows 10 has a built-in firewall, and an effective antivirus in the form of Windows Defender. Extra protection is always a good idea though, and the easiest way to get it is to download some security software.

However, take care not to open email attachments unless you are certain about what they contain and who they are from, and to download software only from trusted sources. When you are browsing the web double-check the URL to ensure the site you think you're browsing is the real deal and not a fake looking to steal your login details or trick you into downloading malware.

Check out more tips for staying safe from ransomware.