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How to prevent and remove viruses and other malware

What is malware?

Malware is a term that is used for malicious software that is designed to do damage or unwanted actions to a computer system. Examples of malware include the following:

  • Viruses

  • Worms

  • Trojan horses

  • Spyware

  • Rogue security software

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a small software program that spreads from one computer to another and interferes with computer operation. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on a computer, use an email program to spread the virus to other computers, or even delete everything on the hard disk.Computer viruses are frequently spread by attachments in email messages or by instant messaging messages. Therefore, you must never open an email attachment unless you know who sent the message or you are expecting the email attachment. Viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files. Computer viruses also

spread through downloads on the Internet. They can be hidden in pirated software or in other files or programs that you might download.

How to remove malware such as a virus, spyware, or rogue security software

Removing a computer virus or spyware can be difficult without the help of malicious software removal tools. Some computer viruses and other unwanted software reinstall themselves after the viruses and spyware are detected and removed. Fortunately, by updating the computer and by using malicious software removal tools, you can help permanently remove unwanted software.For more information about how to remove a computer virus and spyware, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 2671662 - Microsoft resources and guidance for removal of malware and viruses

1. Install the latest updates from Microsoft Update

Note A computer virus may prevent you from accessing the Microsoft Update website to install the latest updates. We recommend that you set the Automatic Updates service to run automatically so that a computer is not missing any important updates.

3. Use the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

For more information about the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

890830 - Remove specific prevalent malware with Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

4. Manually remove the rogue security software

If the rogue security software can’t be detected or removed by using Microsoft Safety Scanner or the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, try the following steps:

  1. Note the name of the rogue security software. For this example, we'll call it XP Security Agent 2020.

  2. Restart your computer.

  3. When you see the computer's manufacturer's logo, repeatedly press the F8 key.

  4. When you are prompted, use the arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode with Networking, and then press Enter.

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