How to Get Rid of a Computer Virus & Popup Ads

by Robert Sloan

Computer viruses and popup ads are a common annoyance to anyone who uses the Internet. Popups sometimes indicate that the computer is infected with a virus. More and more unscrupulous files are put into cyberspace every day. If your computer becomes infected with a virus and starts displaying popup ads, there are steps you can take to remove the problem. The process can take several hours depending on the level of infection and the size of your hard drive.

Scan the reports generated by your anti-virus program to determine the name of any viruses it has recorded. If your computer has become infected as a result of opening an email, write down the subject of the email. This will help check on things to watch out for when trying to remove the virus and popup ads.

Get the current definition file for your anti-virus program. Most anti-virus programs allow you to update the definition file manually. (The software would be worthless without this function because it would never know about new viruses.) If the definition file has not been updated in awhile, you will only be scanning for viruses that are in the database since the last update. If you have a virus that was released after the last update, your anti-virus software will not know about it.

Stop all network connections to your LAN and the Internet. Remove the Ethernet cable from the network interface card in the back of your computer, if you are on a wired network. If you are on a wireless network, disable the wireless device by clicking on the Internet icon in the system tray and disconnect your session. This will prevent the spread of the virus, and it will keep the virus from downloading more malicious software.

Remove the temporary Internet files from your computer by opening the Internet options applet inside the control panel. Click the "Delete History" button to delete the browsing history. This will aid in speeding up the scanning process because it will not need to scan hundreds or thousands of these files.

Launch a thorough virus scan with your anti-virus software. (Most virus programs give you an option to do a quick scan or a complete scan.) Do the most thorough scan possible. Be sure to scan the local and hard drives in your computer. There is no point in scanning CD-ROM drives or floppy drives. Do not scan remote connections to servers.

Remove viruses and malicious files. When the scan is done, the program will present the results of its findings. Typically, you will be given the option to remove all of the suspect files it has found. Click the appropriate button to remove all these files and let the software finish the process of removing all the malicious content.

Run the scan repeatedly until you get a clean report. Viruses have a way of embedding themselves in multiple places, resisting being removed on single sweeps. The aim of another sweep is to remove any left-over files that remain. It will also remove any files that were locked in memory during the first sweep while the virus was still running. This will prevent those files from reinstalling themselves.


  • check Most anti-virus programs have options to turn on a real-time scanner. This means the scanner is examining everything that passes through your computer for possible threats. It is a good idea to enable this after the scanning is complete to prevent future infections.
  • check Furthermore, most scanners have the ability to be automatically updated. Be sure to schedule regular updates to keep your virus database current.

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About the Author

Robert Sloan is an IT and Web marketing consultant with more than 15 years in the industry. Robert has a B.S. degree in journalism and political science from Texas A&M University, and has been writing for the Web for about five years.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera virus alert image by Pontus Edenberg from