How to Find Malware on My Computer

by Gregory Hamel

Malware is a catch-all term for any type of malicious computer program, including viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and adware. Connecting to the Internet--and in particular downloading files or opening email attachments--puts a computer at risk of contracting malware, since it will be continually communicating with other computers that may be infected with malicious programs. If your computer isn't working as it normally does and you suspect it is infected with malware, you will need special anti-malware tools to detect and remove the threat.

Open your antivirus program and install all updates. If you don't have antivirus software, you can download and install a free program such as Avira AntiVir, Avast or AVG Free.

Perform a full system scan using your antivirus program with the maximum level of thoroughness. Some antivirus programs allow you to set how thoroughly you want it to scan your computer; for routine scans you may not need a thorough scan, but you want to be as thorough as possible when you suspect that you have malware.

Delete or quarantine any malware threats that are found during the scan. The various options available will depend on your antivirus software.

Restart your computer and perform another full-system scan with maximum thoroughness.

Open your anti-spyware and adware removal program and download all updates. Ad Adware and Spybot Search & Destroy are two popular and free spyware removers.

Perform a full-system scan with the spyware removal program, and delete any threats that are discovered.

Restart your computer and perform another scan with the spyware detection tool.


  • check Malware is sometimes designed to hide itself from antivirus programs or copy itself upon restarts or running certain executable files. Performing several antivirus and anti-malware scans after several computer restarts can help catch most malware threats. If your current antivirus program is not detecting malware, you should consider deleting it and installing a different antivirus program. Do not run two antivirus programs at the same time as they may interfere with one another. Try using several different spyware and adware removers to determine which program is the most effective in detecting malware on your computer.

About the Author

Gregory Hamel has been a writer since September 2008 and has also authored three novels. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from St. Olaf College. Hamel maintains a blog focused on massive open online courses and computer programming.