Malware lurks in all corners of the Internet and can infect your computer with one unwary click. Up-to-date antivirus programs usually help to keep these nasty invaders at bay, but they sometimes can't catch everything. New, sneakier malware programs can slither into your computer's files and evade the scans from even the best anti-virus programs. If you're positive some malware has infected your system but can't find it in your usual scans, you'll need to try a few different things to ferret out the invading program.
Boot In Safe Mode
Some malware hides so effectively you cannot find it through normal anti-virus scans. Booting your system into Safe Mode -- without networking -- can offer an antivirus or anti-malware program access to files it couldn't scan otherwise. Safe Mode only loads the most basic drivers and operating system files, meaning the malware program may not start and evade detection. Boot into Safe Mode under Windows 8 with the Change PC Settings option under Settings. Once the computer restarts, you can select your antivirus program and perform another deep scan to seek out the problematic program.
Use Different Programs
Not all anti-virus programs can find each and every piece of malware in circulation, and sometimes one program misses what another catches. Malware can also infect and compromise your installed anti-virus software, rendering it useless as protection. Scan your system with your currently installed antivirus program at least two or three times to ensure it has scanned and found everything it can. Once that's done, disable your current software and install a new antivirus program and run a few scans. Use a combination of antivirus and anti-malware programs such as Malwarebytes and Spybot Search & Destroy (links in Resources) to ensure thorough examination of every file on your hard drive.
Reach Out For Help
If the malware has hidden so effectively that no scan can detect it, you'll have to seek outside help. Check your computer's Task Manager to see what processes and programs are currently running, and make note of any suspicious entries that may be your invader. Search the exact terms with your favorite search engine to determine the innocence or guilt of the program and to find a solution to remove it. Some malware requires a specific program or sequence of steps to remove, and you can find advice and tips on tech help forums online.
Wipe It Clean
Some malware programs entwine themselves so deeply within your computer files, or copy themselves to the point of total infection, that removal may not be possible. If you've exhausted all avenues of help and still cannot find or remove the unwelcome intruder, you may have to wipe your system and reinstall Windows. For cases of serious infestation, this is the only way to ensure you have eliminated the threat.
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