Sometimes your computer contracts a virus and there’s no way you can tell. Other times the warning signs are detectable, ranging from subtle to glaringly obvious. Here are 11 signs and symptoms of a computer riddled with viruses, malware, and other nasties.
1. Loss of speed: when your programmes or browser is loading slower, or not at all, or the hard drive is running constantly, run a security scan to make sure that these are not just the workings of an aging computer but in fact, a virus.
2. Home-page redirects: when you open Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer the first page you see is called your ‘home page’. One of the symptoms of a virus is when the home page suddenly changes to a different website, without you changing it yourself.
3. Mid-browsing redirects: this takes place during ambles through the internet. You click on a link or scroll through a page only to suddenly be taken to a completely different site. This often happens once every 10-20 pages visited, and is a sign of a virus.
4. Downloading slows to a crawl: if your broadband speed is super slow (and once again, you don’t have multiple programmes running off it/ haven’t reached your monthly quota) then it’s a sign a virus may have jumped on board.
5. Pop-ups in strange places: as we use the internet we become used to the everyday pop-ups and windows that appear when visiting certain sites. However, when pop-ups happen frequently on regular as well as questionable websites, and even start showing up on your desktop, you have a virus.
6. Unusual error messages: computers can sometimes display some odd error messages, and often they’re legitimate. However, if you are ever suspicious of one, copy and Google it to determine whether it’s real or a viral fake.
7. New icons: always be suspicious of desktop icons or new add-ons to programme windows you don’t recognise. Pay attention especially if they appear and disappear, and run a scan to make absolutely sure it’s not caused by a virus.
8. Anti-virus software disappears and/or firewalls disabled: viruses are sneaky in that they can disable your computer’s security systems. If one of these is shut down, check to make sure it’s not just a software failure. If all of them are down then get your computer checked out ASAP.
9. Strange languages: the language installed on your computer when you buy it is the language it should keep, unless you change it yourself. If the language suddenly changes that should be a warning sign to you that something funny is going on.
10. Major decrease in free space: if you find suddenly your hard drive has little to no space on it (and you haven’t installed any large programmes lately), then it’s highly likely to be due to a virus.
11. Unresponsive computer: some viruses were created with the nasty ability to lock you out of your computer. When this happens try starting your computer back up in safe mode and running a scan.
Protecting yourself against viruses is imperative since so much sensitive information is stored on personal and business computers. The best way to do this is to make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date, running regular scans, and never clicking dodgy links or visiting questionable websites.
If your computer displays one of the above signs of a virus, run an immediate scan. If you are still worried then bring it in to Advanced Computers, and our technicians will cure your computer of any digital sniffles it may have picked up.