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

If you can still control your machine and have access to the internet, continue reading. If your PC won't function or start up properly or you can't get online jump to How to remove a virus from Windows when you've lost control.

How to remove a virus from your laptop or PC

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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 from Windows when you’ve lost control

In the steps below we'll outline how to create a recovery tool that you can use to boot up your computer when it's refusing to play nicely. You will need access to a second machine and either a blank CD or DVD or a USB drive.

  1. Download the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool
  2. If you’re using a blank disc, insert it into the drive now. Browse to the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool file, right-click NBRT.iso and choose 'Burn disc image'. In the Windows Image Burner select the disc drive and click Burn
  3. If you’re using a USB drive you should download and install the Rufus tool. Insert a USB 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
  4. Insert your recovery disc/drive in the infected PC
  5. Restart or boot up the machine, but rather than letting it start up normally you want to enter the Bios menu. A key on your machine - often F2, though it will be displayed onscreen during startup - will allow you to do so
  6. Navigate the Bios to find Boot options, then select the disc or USB drive
  7. Save your changes and exit the BIOS. Your machine will now boot up from the specified drive
  8. If a boot menu appears on the 'Welcome to NBRT page' select Boot, then follow the prompts to begin a scan
  9. 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
  10. Once you're happy with your selections click Fix, and OK when prompted for confirmation
  11. 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 purchase 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.