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How to Manually Remove Computer Viruses Without Antivirus Software

How to Computer has an associate degree in interactive media as well as graphic design.

If your computer is acting weird—displaying pop-ups from programs you've never heard of, showing your desktop icons running away from your computer mouse, or suddenly running terribly slow—your computer may be infected. These behaviors are more often than not a sign that a computer virus, worm, or other malicious software has managed to sneak past your firewall and anti-virus program.

You should definitely run a virus scan on your computer to see if the virus or worm can be detected. Nevertheless, as my own experience shows, malicious software can hide from even a well-known anti-virus program. You may end up having to manually search for the invading software and remove it yourself, if you are trying to avoid a system restore, and this article will show you how to do that.

Neither malicious software nor anti-virus programs are created equal. I had previously been attacked by one of the most vicious Trojan horses created, fFollower.exe (well, the most vicious and evil Trojan I've come across).

All of a sudden I got a popup telling me to click to install "Windows Updates." Clicking the popup caused my computer to restart. Then a window opened saying something about "fFollower.exe," whatever that was, with a little picture of a devil. While I was pondering that, the window disappeared, and the next thing I knew, System windows, Internet Explorer windows, and JavaScript windows were popping up so fast that my head was spinning. I almost thought I was in a scene from the Exorcist. The Trojan was creating more and more illegitimate processes, flooding the computer with useless tasks. I could predict the outcome ... a computer running slower and slower until the eventual and inevitable crash.

Time was running out for Ace (my computer has a name), and with every minute that passed, Ace was closer to death. I could just see it.

Fortunately, I had just signed up with a new internet service provider, and I received Norton AntiVirus Online from them. I started the Norton virus scan. I waited. Norton crawled along, and finally reported nothing but a tracking cookie. Evidently, my luck was out.

What could I do? Put Ace out of his misery? Or look online for a solution?

Computer viruses can quickly leave you with no other option then to shoot your computer.

Computer viruses can quickly leave you with no other option then to shoot your computer.

So I searched the Web, and found software called Malwarebytes, which claimed to remove malware, spyware, adware, key loggers, and Trojans that most well-known anti-virus programs failed to detect. That was what I needed, I thought, so I downloaded a free version.

And Malwarebytes delivered. With just the "Quick Scan" option, it picked up a total of 40 computer viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, and other malicious files that Norton Antivirus didn’t even have a clue about. Later I did a full system scan with Malwarebytes and found 13 more viruses, including that evil Trojan fFollower.exe.

The full version of Malwarebytes, which I ended up buying, includes not only scheduled scanning and updating but real-time protection against hackers trying to break through your firewall. This real-time protection has prevented so many hacker attacks on my computer on a daily basis that I can’t even keep track of them.

Another Discovery: Threat Expert

While I was searching online how to get rid of my computer virus, I also found Threat Expert, which anyone who owns a computer should know about, in case your virus protection software fails or is not available. This used to be a web site that analyzes and reports the behavior of computer viruses, worms, Trojans, adware, spyware, and other security-related risks. However, Microsoft bought out Threat Expert and turned it into a downloadable program. These reports are useful for hunting the suckers down yourself, as they tell you the file names and aliases created, processes created, registry keys created, and other information about the virus.

Need to Manually Remove a Computer Virus Without Virus Protection Software?

I am a research junkie who loves to research anything and everything that crosses my path. However, on a computer, researching everything that crosses one's path is risky behavior, and I have suffered the consequences a few times. At times I have manually removed malware, like this Trojan horse, viruses, key loggers, and adware, because I did not have the money to keep my Norton Antivirus software updated as often as the manufacturers want us to.

Before We Start Our Malware Search-and-Destroy Project

Depending on the programming of the virus, spyware, adware, or other unwanted program, it may be possible to remove it yourself from an infected computer. However, it can be a long, tricky process, and it can damage your files if some step does not work exactly as planned.

Therefore, I strongly recommend that before you go through the steps below, you do what you can to back up the information you have in your computer. If you don't have a complete back-up, follow the instructions below at your own risk.

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Ideally you should always have a complete back-up of your computer. The back-up allows you to run a system restore, which will restore your computer to a previous state if all else fails. In addition, a back-up will help you identify any new files that you did not install, which may be malicious.

I also must advise you also that using good virus protection software, like Malwarebytes, to remove malware is faster and safer for your data.

Five Easy Steps to Remove Viruses and Other Malicious Software

Here are five steps you should take to remove a virus from your computer.

1. Know Your Enemy

Any great war general will tell you to know your enemy, get inside their head, think like they do, act like they do, and become their best friend, as this will prepare you to overcome your enemy. So engage with the virus. Keep an eye out for any security messages that pop up, as these usually provide the exact name of the virus that has infected your computer. If it gives you a security message that says "For More Info Click Here," or something else to click on, and it is not asking you to enter personal financial information or install anything, you may want to go ahead and click on it. Be prepared to write down any product name it gives you, or any file name and directory path (example: C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\LocalLow\Temp\Virus). Remember, never give out your personal financial information in these dialogues with malware.

Now if you were lucky enough to catch a security message and get the name of the virus itself, then you can continue on to Threat Expert and get all the information you can on that malicious software.

If you were only able to get a product name, then you need to do a search on it. Most likely, you’ll find out that the product is "fakeware" (malicious software that calls itself an anti-virus program).

In your search, it's a good idea to pursue results that link you to a forum, as you may find the information you need in discussions there, for example the name of the virus infecting your computer.

Once you have the name of the virus and the report from Threat Expert, you can begin the hunt. It won't be a long hunt if you were able to get the directory from the "security" message, because that is where that little malicious bugger is hiding.

2. Block the Virus from the Startup List

You can’t kill the virus unless you put it to sleep first. So to put the virus to sleep, we will end all the processes created by the virus.

A first step is to block the malicious program from starting itself up along with your usual programs every time your computer starts up. You can use System Configuration ("msconfig") to do this. One way to do this is to click the “Start” button on your desktop, type "System Configuration" into the "Search" field, and select “Start System Configuration” from the results. Or find it by clicking "Start," then "Control Panel," then "System and Security," and then "Administrative Tools," and then double-clicking "System Configuration.‌"

System Configuration is great for helping with virus removal, allowing you to keep the virus turned off when you start up again.

System Configuration is great for helping with virus removal, allowing you to keep the virus turned off when you start up again.

System Configuration opens the "General" tab, where you will need to select the circle next to "Selective Startup." Next, move to the “Startup” tab and go through the list there: select all the programs that have an unknown manufacturer and disable them, because programs with unknown manufacturers are almost always malware. Restart your computer to close any currently-running versions of the malware.

When your computer restarts, you will open your Task Manager immediately, which can be done quickest by pressing the "Ctrl," "Alt," and "Delete" keys all at the same time and then selecting "Start Task Manager" from the options that appear. Select the “Processes” tab and then compare the processes listed as running on your computer to the list of virus-created processes you got from the Threat Expert report or other research. Any processes running on your computer that match the ones on the report need to be ended, until all virus-created processes are gone.

4. Seek and Destroy That Malicious Software: Delete Its Files

Now we will go to the directory where the virus is and delete the virus. Tip: viruses like to hide themselves inside your “Temp” folder. If you got the directory path from the security message the virus gave you, then all you need to do is open up your computer's Explorer window and follow the path. For example, if you were looking for "C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\LocalLow\Temp\Virus…" you would click on the "C" icon in Explorer, for the computer's hard drive, then click the “Users” folder, then click the “YourUserName” folder, and so on, until you get to the virus. Now delete any file names that match those on the virus report.


5. Seek and Destroy Some More: Remove Registry Keys

Finally, we will go into the Registry and remove the registry keys the virus put in. To go into the Registry, click the “Start” button on your desktop, click “Run,” type "regedit," and click "OK." Or type "regedit" in the search bar on your Start Menu, and select the Regedit program from your search results. You can find the exact name and directory path of the registry keys created by the virus from the Threat Expert virus report. Delete the registry keys that the virus created—do be careful to delete the exact keys you have in mind, no others—and you should be virus-free.

Congratulations! Now Change Your Passwords

Now that the malware is removed from your computer you need to change your passwords. You do not know what private information of yours the malware may have scraped from your keystrokes, or from the wonderful little cookies you gather from all the web sites you visit, and you don't know to whom the malware may have sold this information. So please remember to change all of your passwords once the virus has been removed.

Is it Really a Malicious Website?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 how to computer


mehdi on June 02, 2020:

hi I have a big problem pls help ; yesterday I looking for 123photo viewer I see a site that say has cracks of it unfortunately I be stupid and downloaded it when I opened it , has no installation and just say hkey_local. ... ___ ok ...I'm afraid of it but any of anti virus don't tell me that is virus I checked it with different anti virus no one find any treats but suddenly I see a new installation;my laptop getting so slower and all time chrome opened itself and go to one site : thebestofthe ..... .com sorry I can't remember full name it has very long name

so I deleteed all new apps but see the temp folder now is getting biger and bigger and every time I try to delete it it's no difference they coming back, yesterday I able to use task manger but today task manger and registry don't work; I do a lot of works install many anti virus but all are useless ... at the end I try to reinstall windows from usb flash bootable but when I go to Uefi the system can't recognize flash ; I restart windows and see all things in my laptop has this tag : .coronavirus and changed type of every thing in coronavirus type ;

finally I use a DVD to reinstall windows but all time it says the : { windows detected the EFI system partions was formatted as NTFS format the EFI system partions as Fat32 AND RESTART THE INSTALATION} I'm pretty sure that virus do this to stop installation so I delete many of partions until i could reinstall the windows

and now I get access to system but all files such movies; songs; documents ,.... All has . coronavirus , tag

I can erase that tag and the files get back to normal but I afraid maybe all files has infected by this virus; are you have a solution or anything that can help? .... are you think all files must be deleted or has a better idea ? please help me I'm so desperate , all time I search windows new virus coronavirus I think that you know what results show ..... please tell me it's can coming back ? !

so afraid it's coming back or it's still alive I just reinstall windows and don't know it's everything right or the virus is still alive ; please help me; sorry it was to long

fernando peter on December 17, 2019:

as per my experience, if you are using the internet and data transferring application then the surely your PC will be viruses for this you have to keep antivirus in your PC other wise you have to keep some basic things like clear history and cache data regular based, and resent the PC after the some time.that is all steps, for more information

Kuldeep on September 12, 2018:

Thanks. Virus removed.

Nwanze Paul e-mail on June 30, 2018:

My PC suddenly has 3 quarter of its screen covering with some multiple colored pixels that claim that part from showing well. Can I conclude is virus that caused it, or does it have screen problem? If it's virus what do I do?

FE ORTEGA on September 10, 2017:


BlueCrfter153 on July 19, 2017:

Same,look like I was infected too my laptop suddenly shut down because of a lot ads apear and then when I open it back it no longer opening and stuck on starting windows.

Ethan on March 16, 2017:

I currently have a virus on my computer that freezes everything on it and I am not able to do anything so without reinstalling Linux and deleting all the data on my computer what should I do because there is no way I am able to do anything on it without it freezing

George on March 15, 2017:

The same thing happened to me but I got MalwareFox instead of Malwarebytes, still worked like a charm.

james on January 05, 2017:

my computer completely froze and has been for a while now i have no idea what happened just all its doing is installing more and more stuff every few minutes, its rearranging things on my desktop and closes my google searches... idk how i got the virus i was just watching youtube

Ian on December 31, 2016:

My problem is that the virus blocks Malwarebytes from finishing installation

The Boss on September 28, 2016:

Solved 100% of my PC's problems

IT Support Asheboro on August 28, 2016:

Thank you very much for sharing the tips on virus removal. I will use the trick

chrisjohnsonmar on August 10, 2016:

I always update my computer and connect 256 encrypted purevpn(dot)com

Yousuf Ahmed on June 29, 2016:

I have a virus called "dataup.exe" and i cant seem to delete it and i cant find the startup thingy in system config. Help!

Linux on June 14, 2016:

Best way is to install Ubuntu Linux noted as the most secure distro for consumer use. I have run Ubuntu almost eight years, it does not use anti-virus/malware programs. It is easy fast and secure and if Free if you can install it yourself. Google runs Ubuntu and they labelled their version Goobunta. It is used all over the net, servers, cloud, iot and more. Go to and read about what all it does. Most all programs are free from its own software center. I have not had any downtime or spent a penny for anything in almost eight years.

how to computer (author) on December 04, 2014:

If you follow the steps to remove a computer virus in this article you should be able to get rid of the popup.exe virus. Also you can search for the location of this popup.exe virus if you open up the window to the computer (the one that shows how much of your hard drive has been used) and type in the search field at the top of the window the name of the virus ~ popup.exe. Once you find the virus just delete all instances of it and that will get rid of it. I hope this has helped you

toalbers on September 01, 2014:

i have a problem called popup.exe and i don't get rid off it anybody help me please...

how to computer (author) on April 10, 2014:

There could be several reasons why a computer shut down and won't load windows when you start up the computer, it could be a hard drive failure or something else wrong with the computer, but I would need more information as to the behavior of the computer. Does the computer get power? Is the computer making any weird sounds? What version of windows are you using? Anything else you can add about the computer behavior could be helpful.

awright on February 23, 2014:

what can u do when computer shut down and want come on the main screen how do you load windows

Tim Anthony on January 08, 2014:

Very helpful and quite useful information. And, yes, being well-known does not always mean the best. There are many harmful and malicious sites on the internet.

Sajani Dangol on November 26, 2013:

Really helpful.

kanak on November 25, 2013:

thanks dude i have did this and removed the viruses from my pc it works

kanak on November 25, 2013:

thanks dude i have did this and removed the virusses from my pc it works

dennis on November 02, 2013:

good article i like your article.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 13, 2013:

Very helpful steps. I am blessed to have a computer junkie son, much like yourself, who meticulously goes about defeating every virus that has managed to infiltrate my computer. But not everyone out there is so fortunate, and that is why your sharing of this information is so helpful. Great hub.

how to computer (author) on July 12, 2013:

Thanks receivetipstricks for your great comment on how you use linux to delet the viruses infecting your computer, and for checking out this hub. Hope you have a blessed day!

Mrinal Saha from Jaipur,India on July 09, 2013:

this is what i use

Spot the virus location , boot into you system using linux and simply delete it.

how to computer (author) on June 26, 2013:

I have to agree Gameccrasher, as some computer viruses are quite tricky, moving files around and labeling them as hidden files, (which if that is the case you should go to the options for the folder containing the hidden files, click on the view tab at the top of the window that opens, then look for and select the option to show hidden files, folders, and drives, and finally apply your changes, so that any hidden files can be seen and removed), but manual virus removal can be done if you have no other options. Thanks for your comment.

Gameccrasher on May 24, 2013:

It is Very Complicated to do in WINDOWS XP especially

how to computer (author) on April 02, 2013:

Thanks Keith for checking out this guide to remove computer viruses, I much appreciate your feedback, and I'm glad it helped you get rid of the virus infecting your computer. Hope you have a blessed day!

how to computer (author) on April 02, 2013:

Glad you found this virus removal guide helpful, and that it makes it easier to know if you have a virus, tlpoague, thanks for checking it out. I too, have to share my computer, because of which, I go through these easy steps to remove computer viruses pretty much on a monthly basis since I have experienced a virus getting past my anti-virus. It also helps me keep my computer running fast and smooth. Thanks for sharing it, I much appreciate it, hope you have a blessed day!

how to computer (author) on April 02, 2013:

Thank you point2make for checking out this virus removal guide, I'm glad you bookmarked it in case you ever need it, though I hope you won't have to use it, as manual virus removal is not on the top of the list of the most fun and exciting things to do. Thanks for the vote up, I much appreciate it, and have a blessed day!

Keith on April 02, 2013:

What a great guide to remove computer viruses and malicious software, the symptoms of a computer virus you mentioned and how to find a virus on my computer was really helpful, I don't think I could have gotten rid my computer virus without this.

point2make on December 04, 2012:

An excellent and comprehensive hub that will come in very handy. I am certainly going to bookmark this hub for future reference. Thank- you very much for the information and your effort. Voted this hub up.

Tammy on December 04, 2012:

I seem to attract these little suckers since my computer seems to be the community one here at home. It drives me nuts to sit down ready to work on HP, or do a little surfing, and I find changes that have been made or programs added that I haven't done. This will make it easier to see if it is a virus, or a little helper wanting to play my comp. Thanks for this helpful information. I will be sure to pass it on.

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