A dozen tools for removing almost any malware

Fred Langa

Need to get a system clean of malware and/or verify that it’s completely malware-free?

Use one or more of these free tools to clean up even the worst malware infections — and keep PCs clean.

Here’s a typical scenario for a veteran computer user. Having established best-security practices on your PC, you’ve been free of malware infections for a long time. But every so often, a friend or family member says those dreaded words: “I think I might have a problem with my PC.” Typically, by then the infection — a bogus antivirus popup, for example — is well established.

If it’s been a while since you had to clean someone’s machine, it can be difficult to remember the best techniques and apps for restoring a system to good health. We suggest you keep this story handy for future reference — bookmark it or print it out. It should provide all the information needed to remove even the most tenacious malware infestation.

“Hi! I think I have a virus. Can you help?

A Windows infection shows up in many ways: strange system behavior such as excessive, unexplained activity; odd warning; or that aggressive popup you can’t remove. Sometimes the infection is more subtle: It feels like Windows or installed apps just aren’t working as they should. Or maybe the system seems to be working fine, but you’d still like to verify that malware hasn’t taken hold and is working silently in the background.

Whatever the signs, experienced Windows users typically resort to one or more anti-malware scanners/cleaners. Unfortunately, it can be far easier to detect malware than to remove it. Thoroughly cleaning a system might require the use of multiple AV products, multiple scan/clean cycles, and even Linux-based tools running outside Windows.

Best AV practices also include proactive planning — preparing for infections, rather than scrambling for the right malware cleaner after the fact. With just a little work — literally a few minutes — you can equip yourself with the tools needed to rid a PC of most malware or verify that a system isn’t actually infected.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2013-04-11:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.