When a person thinks they might have a virus, it’s a pretty quick road to confirm its presence. A trip to the doctor’s office, a few vital signs taken, a check of the heart and lungs, and your physician can make the pronouncement that you have, in fact, come down with something.
Diagnosing your computer with a similar illness can be a bit tougher. Some signs that you have a computer virus can be a bit more subtle.
Vigilance is a big key to keeping your computer safe and your data protected. There are obviously software options that offer the big picture of our computer’s wellbeing as often as several times a day, but our own interactions with its performance can identify problem areas that might otherwise be missed.
Before we begin the list of computer characteristics that might signal the presence of a virus, check out this list of antivirus software for Windows. These software offerings can offer round-the-clock surveillance and safety for your computer and your personal data and receive updates on new virus threats from international databases to keep your system out of harm’s way.
Beyond a red flag from your antivirus software, here are some basic indicators that your computer might be struggling with infection.
Pop-up ads online aren’t as prevalent as they once were, but we still see them from time to time as we surf the Internet. But when you’re getting pop-ups on your screen while not on a website, there’s cause for concern. The ones that should really put you on alert will try to convince you that your computer is infected and offer a solution by clicking on a link. Never follow a link from a popup like this, they usually take you to a website acting as the virus’s partner in crime, attempting to lure you into either paying money for a non-existent solution or convince you to download a ‘fix’ that is likely more malware.
Slow to Rise
Most days your computer should fire up quickly, load its programs, and let you get to work. If you find your PC acting like a teenager on the first day of school, slow to wake up and get going, you might have a virus on your hands. Viruses usually land in your computer’s registry, which is the folder telling it which programs to start when it boots. Once you’ve confirmed that your RAM and hard disk memory look OK, it’s time to get after rooting that virus out of your registry.
Missing Files List
Viruses aren’t always out to steal your information and cost you money. Some are cruelly mischievous and will delete files, rename them, or move them around. If you can’t find files in the places you last left them, this is a warning bell. The worst instance can be when ransomware infiltrates your computer and encrypts your files, holding them hostage until you pay for a decryption code.
You’re Sending Emails You Didn’t Send
There’s nothing like that sinking feeling when you wake up to 20 texts and emails that your email account is sending false messages. Maybe it’s a plea for a help or a recommendation for a shady hyperlink, but the source is the same: A virus has hijacked your email account and is going through your contact list firing away. Instant intervention is needed. And make sure you send an email blast out to everyone about previous messages; there’s always at least one person who falls for the ruse and gets infected too.