How to Fix an HKey Virus

By Matthew Caines

Severe HKey viruses can make your computer almost unusable.
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The Windows registry on your PC is made up of root keys and sub-keys. These are known as HKeys (HKEYS_) and are vital to your PC's performance and start-up. Each HKey has a different role; some are responsible for reloading user profiles and preferences, while others are useful in arranging folders and detecting hardware. Therefore, it is important to remove an HKey virus if you suspect you have one. Unfortunately, Windows operating system does not come with a default anti-malware scanner. Instead, you must download one of the many free--yet very effective--anti-malware scanners from the Internet.

Download and install a reputable and respected anti-malware scanner. Malware scanners are programs that locate and pinpoint dangerous files before deleting, disabling or putting them into quarantine. Hundreds of anti-malware scanners are available on the Internet; however, there are a few programs that are more respected and effective than others. Some of the more popular programs include Malwarebytes, Spybot Search & Destroy, Emsisoft Anti-Malware and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. These programs are free to download using the links in Resources.

If your PC's Internet Explorer is unusable--due to the HKey virus--ask a friend or family member to download the setup package to a disc (from which you can manually install it).

Turn off your PC and restart it in Safe Mode. If you have a severe HKey virus, it is likely that your PC is already quite unstable and perhaps unusable. If an important HKey is infected, you may not be able to run programs such as an anti-malware scanner under regular conditions. In Safe Mode, your PC only uses basic and straightforward programs; this way you can run your anti-malware scanner smoothly and without any stoppages.

To put your PC in Safe Mode, turn on the computer and--while the start-up screens are loading--tap the "F8" key several times until the start-up window appears. Select the "Safe Mode" option.

Run your anti-malware program and choose to perform the longest and deepest scan available. A deeper scan will be more thorough and ensure that no file is left unchecked. The scan may take a while depending on how much memory has been used on your PC: Computers with a lot of files and data will take much longer to scan than one with very few folders and files.

Look the results. All good malware scanners will produce a log of every malicious file that was detected on your computer. Scroll down the list until you find a file directory that begins with an "HKEY_" prefix; these are the HKey files on your computer that are affected by viruses and are likely to be causing you trouble.

Confirm the actions that the anti-malware scanner suggests. Certain files, such as core performance files and applications, might actually do more harm to your computer if you remove them. Instead, the scanner may suggest disabling these files or placing them into quarantine. Perform the required actions and then restart you PC back in standard mode to test its performance.