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Ed VanHoose
Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

Help! I’ve got a computer virus!

So there you are surfing the web, looking at the video of a cute puppy playfully attacking a mop when suddenly your screen flashes a warning: “Your computer is infected with a virus! Click here to remove it.” You follow the prompts and install what you believe is a virus removal program.

Only the problem gets worse. Now, every time you boot up your computer, you are greeted with a screen telling you that you must activate the software in order to protect yourself. And, your computer won’t do anything else until you do.

Oh no! You have inadvertently installed a malware/virus on your computer. What do you do now?

How do I remove a computer virus?

A fast way to check for viruses is to use an online scanner, such as Microsoft Security Essentials. Security Essentials is a free online service that helps you identify and remove viruses, clean up your hard disk and generally improve your computer’s performance. Keep in mind that it won’t work for every operating system. Also, Microsoft’s scanner isn’t the only one out there. Most major antivirus companies have something available for a free scan. However, they’re not all free.

Once infected, your computer may or may not connect to the Internet. If you can connect to the Internet try the following steps:

If you have difficulty installing Microsoft Security Essentials, click the Installation video link to watch a full download and install.

If you can’t connect to the Internet, try restarting your computer in safe mode with networking enabled by following these steps:

  • Restart your computer.
  • When you see the computer manufacturer’s logo, press and hold the F8 key.
  • On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode with Networking, and then press Enter.
  • Log on to your computer with a user account that has administrator rights.

You should now be able to access the Internet to follow the steps above to install Security Essentials. However, there are viruses that prevent Internet access even after restarting in safe mode. In that case, it may be time to consult a professional who can try to remove the virus manually. Removing a virus manually can be a technical process that you should only undertake if you have experience with the Windows registry.

There are other tools out there that can help you remove viruses and malware. One common tool used in the industry is called Malwarebytes ( Even if you can’t access the Internet on your computer, you can download a copy of Malwarebytes on another computer and then run it without the need for the Internet.

There is no one way to guarantee your computer will be safe from viruses, and you may find yourself in over your head. When that happens, make sure to seek out a technical professional, and please make sure to do regular backups!

Doing regular backups on your files can help you avoid data loss if your computer becomes infected again.

Oh! And by the way, here’s a link to a video of a puppy attacking a mop:

Everybody has technical issues. Some are interesting. Some aren’t. If you have an interesting technical problem that you want answered in a future edition of Powered Up, please drop me an e-mail. (I might even answer some of the uninteresting ones too.)

Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield. He is a specialist in the IT field with over 12 years of experience working in leadership roles for technology based projects in Illinois and Missouri.





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