In the world of today, keeping your computer safe is a priority. With all the free software available, there is no reason not to. We know that using an antivirus software with heuristic analysis and real-time protection is essential to protect against malware, ransomware, viruses, and other attacks.
No software can be 100% foolproof.
Even the very best can be compromised. There are always new ways being developed to break through security. That’s a downside to security. It’s hard to protect against something that hasn’t been done yet. When someone finds a new way to break through, a new way has to be developed to protect against it.
Malware can gain access to your network, or even lay dormant until an opportunity to attack presents itself. It could be something that wasn’t detected before the installation of your antivirus software. If it wasn’t detected, then you wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to remove it.
It isn’t easy for an antivirus program to detect every little piece of malware or phishing scheme. Some programs are even designed to look like antivirus or anti-spyware programs. You can unknowingly infect your system thinking you are downloading a program to protect it.
So what can you do. Well you can start by downloading a free malware removal tool. You want to have the strongest team possible protecting you. A free malware removal tool working side by side with your antivirus program is your A-Team. Malware scanners are able to detect threats that your antivirus software may not be able to.
You want to make certain your system is clean before you install any antivirus program. Free malware scanners were designed with purpose of ensuring a clean system before the installation of your antivirus program.
What is Malware Removal: How Does it Work?
Some of you may want to know the ins and outs behind this kind of technology and what makes it different from antivirus software.
After all, don’t antivirus software have real-time protection and scanners?
Here is a summary of what malware scanning and removal entails:
Malware removal tools are built especially to detect different kinds of malware, while antivirus software providers are more concerned will preventing infection than removing it.
There are many kinds of scanners part and parcel of paid and free online antivirus providers, but the two main ones are real-time protection scanners and on-demand scanners.
antivirus programs constantly run in the background as watch guards for malware, and you can only have one of these installed on your PC at a time.Malware removal tools also use real-time protection whereby the software scans all the incoming network data and scans disk files for any threats at download time to block anyone suspicious files or downloads that it comes across.
Anti-malware software can be used solely for detection and removal purposes to clean your system of malware that is already installed onto a computer.The has to be activated to search for malware infections and viruses by scanning the contents of operating system files, the Windows registry, any installed programs.After the scan, a list appears will all the threats found so the user can decide whether to delete or keep the file, or the user can compare the list to a list of known malware components and remove the files that match any on the list.
The second type is what distinguishes a free malware scanner from real-time protection. A user can have multiple programs running at the same time in order to ensure that if one antivirus program misses a variant of malware, another one will pick it up.
So, malware scanners in essence provide Protection, Cleanup and Removal, and Robust Detection.
Advantages of Free Malware Removal
These are the advantages of free malware removal software and why you should use them:
- Offers multiple layers of detection
- A separate (free) tool that is used to clean a system
- Ensures that malware is eradicated from endpoints
- Blocks any known malware from being executed in systems
- Can generally be used at the same time as antivirus providers
- Protects against new and unknown malware (zero-day exploits)
- Provides speedy investigation and remediation of suspicious threats
Drawbacks of Free Virus Removal
This is a once-off tool to use before or alongside antivirus software, so there aren’t many downsides to this technology.
Here are the possibilities to consider:
- Lack of scheduling options
- Large system impact on PC performance
- Not all are compatible with all antivirus programs
- Need to run a few at once because malware developers are constantly creating more sophisticated malware
How Do You Know You’ve Been Infected by Malware
So now that you know the basics of malware and malware scanners, you’re probably wondering what the signs are of an infected system.
How do you know when it’s necessary to launch a free malware removal tool?
Some malware infections are as plain as day while others are stealthy killers; either way, here are some symptoms to look out for:
Some obvious ones
- Social Media Posts: Your accounts generate fake posts that you didn’t write.
- Warning message: Ransomware message or scary warning from security programs you didn’t install.
- Browser redirects: When you search for a specific page but keep getting redirected to a different site.
- New Homepage: When you set your homepage to a specific website but another one keeps popping up as the default page.
- Unwanted Toolbars: These are a row of selectable icons that appear at the top or bottom of a browser window and that you cannot get rid of.
- Nonstop Pop-ups: This is when you close a pop-up and another one appears immediately afterwards. Sometimes pop-ups can appear without being online. If your screen is loaded with pop-ups, your system most probably has a spyware or adware infection.
Some less obvious symptoms
- Slow cursor: Cursor responds slowly to mouse movement
- New icons: These are random programs that suddenly show up on a system or a program a user legitimately downloaded but that was infested with PUPs.
- Slow computer: If a computer is slow and programs take long to load. First check that it’s not because there are too many programs running, there is no more space on the hard drive, or there is little free memory.
- Frozen web browser: If the internet is sluggish and the web browser freezes or is unresponsive, you might have malware. First check that it isn’t just slow WiFi signal or download speeds from the Internet provider.
- Constant Crashing: Some forms of malware such as root kits dig deep into the Windows kernel and attack themselves which causes an unstable system. First check that it isn’t because there are incompatible programs of software or that the hardware needs updating.
- Bounced emails: If a lot of your emails keep returning to your inbox your email either you have been hacked to send spam mail to your contact list, or malware sends out emails using the emails it found on the PC. If the “To” address is null and void, then the “From” address, your email, gets the email back.
Mobile infections to look out for are a weak battery life in that it drains very quickly, and another one could be a large phone bill because of messages you didn’t send or messages from your mobile provider saying that you purchased apps when you didn’t.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell when you’re initially infected, or you’ll never really know because of botnets that run in the background to steal information without affecting the PC performance.
This is why you should run regular scans by both an antivirus software and a free malware scanner!
Steps To Remove Malware
There are several easy steps you need to take in order to check your PC for malware.
The best part is that you can do it all by yourself without needing to be a computer whiz!
There are a few steps you can take before you use a free virus removal tool or free malware scanner.
Listed below are the steps, including the free online malware removal and scanner, for a Windows PC and a Mac OS X operating system.
Try these simple steps and enjoy a malware-free PC.
Step 1: Enter Safe Mode
This step is to help prevent the malware from leaking into or spreading in your private data:
Before you commence with any free virus removal tools or a free malware scanner, you need to disconnect your PC from the Internet and be sure not to connect again until you are ready to clean your PC.
Remove DVDs, CDs and USBs.
Once you have disconnected from the Internet, you need to boot your PC into Safe Mode whereby only the required services and programs are loaded.
Malware executes itself when Windows starts, so entering into Safe Model prevents the malware from loading automatically onto the system.
Windows 7 & 8 have an easy process for booting into Safe Mode, but Windows 10 is more complicated and requires an explanation:
- Click the Start Button and choose the Power Button as if you are going to reboot, but don’t click anything!
- Hold down the SHIFT key and click Reboot. You can hit the F8 button repeatedly as it leads to the menu of Advanced Boot Options.
- Select Troubleshooting when the full screen menu pops up. After that choose Advanced Options and then Startup Settings.
- Click the RESTART button on the next window and wait for the next screen to appear.
- A numbered menu will then appear with startup options; pick NUMBER 4 which is Safe Mode.
Note: If you want to connect to online scanners, which is what this article is about, then you will have to choose NUMBER 5 – Safe Mode with Scanning.
Your PC will noticeably speed up in Safe Mode. It could mean of one two things:
- Your system is infected with malware
- You have a lot of legitimate programs installed that usually start up with Windows.
Your PC will be faster if it is outfitted with a state drive.
Step 2: Delete Temporary Files
Your PC is in Safe Mode ready for malware scan; however, before that, you need to delete any temporary files.
Why do you need to do this?
To speed up the scanning process, free up disk space, and possible get rid of some malware.
There is a Disk Cleanup for Windows 10. All you need to do is select the tool named Disk Cleanup after pressing the Start Button, or you can search for it in the search toolbar.
You might also want to backup your documents, files, photos and videos.
However, do not backup program files as they were probably infected. Programs can be re-downloaded!
Step 3: Download an On-Demand Free Malware Scanner
Now you are ready for the most important part: to download and run a free malware scanner.
Reconnect to the Internet to download and install and software and then disconnect again.
Most standard infections can be removed by free malware scanners, but if you already have an antivirus software installed on your PC, make sure to use a different scanner if you are running a specific malware check or removal blitz because the antivirus protection software probably won’t detect the malware.
If you suspect that your PC has been infected, I recommend that you run an on-demand scan first and then follow it up with a full scan with a real-time antivirus provider.
Follow the instructions and install the program.
Step 4: Run a Free Malware Scanner
Before you go through Step 5 and 6, read the next section of the Best Free Malware Removal Providers.
This step is to detect the possible malware and to annihilate them!
Step 5: Check
After you restart your PC, run a different malware detection scan to check you’re in the all-clear.
Step 6: Fix Your Web Browser
Check that the homepage and connection settings are correct before you launch the web browser.
To do this enter the Control Panel>Internet Options>General Tab>Home Page Settings.
This is to avoid any malware from modifying your web browser homepage, to prevent the malware from browsing your system or displaying advertisements.
Update any new versions for for your operating system, browser, and applications because malware tends to take advantage of older versions.
Also reset all passwords as the malware could have stolen them.
Step 7: Recover Your Files
If Windows does not work properly or the malware may be hard to remove, you’ll have to reinstall Windows.
Copy all the files to an external USB before your wipe out the hard drive. You will also have to export settings and messages from client programs like Outlook.
Now you can reinstall Windows by downloading the installation image from Microsoft, with the disc that came with your PC, or by activating the PC’s factory restoration option if there is one.
Step 8: Keeping Your PC Clean
Now that your PC is nice and clean, make sure that you download an up-to-date real-time antivirus program.
There are plenty of brilliant free antivirus providers out there, so there is no excuse not to be protected!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
You will also need to backup your system and files to prevent losing any important information should another malware attack somehow infiltrate your system.
Run a scan on the backups to make sure no infections were added.
And lastly, keep all your software and Windows version up-to-date.
Mac OS X
In most cases with Mac malware, the malware pretends to be the very tool you want to use to get rid of the malware, as in it masquerades as antivirus or anti-malware software.
Here are some steps you need to undertake before using a free malware removal tool for Mac OS X:
- Quit the web browser you are browsing if you get a warning about a virus, or malicious URL or software. If the browser doesn’t quit for example after pressing Quit on Safari, then force quit the browser by control clicking the Safari icon and choosing Force-Quit.
- After that a user has to go to the Downloads folder and drag any installed files or unrecognizable files into the Trash.
- Then the Trash folder needs to be emptied; control click the Trash Icon and select Empty Trash.
Another process to undertake to remove Mac malware for free if you suspect that you have already installed malware on your Mac is the following:
- Check the name of the application if it’s open.
- Move or close the application window.
- Then press Command+SHIFT+U to open the Utilities folder.
- Once you’re in the Utilities Folder, open up the Activity Monitor and select All Processes.
- Launch the Activity Monitor in the Application Folder under the Utilities Folder.
- Look for the name of the app from step 1.
- Click the Quit Process button on the top left-hand corner and choose Quit.
Best Free Malware Removal Providers
Now we get to the best part!
What are the best free malware removal tools out there?
I have provided a list of the best free malware scanners and tools.
Don’t hesitate to pick the one that suits your needs. You might want to consider other paid versions on the providers’ sites for further protection, whether it be other malware removal tools or antivirus software.
Malwarebytes focuses on zero-day malware detection and removal with its free malware removal tool.
The free Anti-malware scanner and remover is an excellent software that picks up on and cleans malware that other antivirus providers usually miss.
Users enjoy very short scan times, which is a bonus because malware on-demand scans affect PC performance, effective cleanup and repair, and a easy user interface.
This is a wonderful tool to use alongside antivirus software because it is compatible with most of the providers on the market.
For a detailed look into the free and premium real-time protection version of Anti-Malware, as well as the excellent Anti-Exploit product which is the vulnerability-detection tool Malwarebytes offers, have a look at this detailed Malwarebytes review.
All the information provided in this article about the best free malware removal providers and the steps on how to remove malware with free malware scanners may be a lot to chew on.
Rest assured that you can always consult this guide and consult us with any questions you may have.
After all, the team at FatSecurity.com wants you to be covered from all angles when it comes to malware removal and antivirus protection.
And lastly, I know I have said this already, but it is vital for me to note that if you do not have any antivirus software downloaded onto your PC at this given moment, then NOW is the time to choose from our best antivirus providers.