Have you been noticing that your computer isn’t working like it used to? Are there weird things going on with it that you can’t really explain?
These could be signs of a computer virus. If your computer is infected with a virus or malware, your personal information is at risk. Your identity could be stolen, your personal files could be deleted, and you can put your friends and family at risk as well.
But how can you know whether you have a virus or not? We’ve compiled a list of the most common signs of malware and computer viruses that you’ll see. You can compare this list to what’s happening on your computer to determine whether you have a virus or not.
What Is a Computer Virus?
A computer virus or malware is malicious software or programs that can “infect” your computer without you knowing or giving permission. They attach to certain programs or files in your computer and they can usually “self-replicate” and attach to other programs and files in your computer once it’s in.
They can perform a variety of malicious actions, usually ones that include stealing your information, deleting your personal data, or infecting other computers through yours.
Let’s get into the signs that you have a virus on your computer.
1. Computer Is Slow to Turn On
Taking a long time to turn on is one of the most common symptoms of a computer virus. Viruses and malware can make booting up your computer take significantly longer than usual, and it’s something you’ll probably notice right away.
However, it could also be a sign of a number of other issues, including hardware problems, insufficient hard drive space, or even just a sign of an old, failing computer.
2. Computer Is Slow in General
Besides the startup, a virus can make your entire computer run slowly. This could include slow running programs, slow Internet browsers, and general lag time that wasn’t happening before.
As with a slow startup, this could be a symptom of a number of other things. Check out other potential issues (like storage space, RAM memory, etc) before jumping to the conclusion that you have a virus.
3. Constant Crashes
If you’re doing something on the computer and the program, or the entire computer, keeps suddenly crashing for no reason, this could be the result of malware.
Many PCs will experience computer crashes followed by what’s known as the blue screen of death. If it isn’t a virus causing these crashes, then it’s a serious technical problem.
However, it is a very common symptom of viruses and malware, so that could very well be the culprit.
4. More Pop-Ups Than Usual
We all get pop-up ads once in a while. But if you notice a large uptick in the amount you’re seeing or the frequency at which you see them, a virus could be at fault.
These could be in the form of pop-up ads or pop-up messages (usually saying something suspicious like “you’re out of hardware space” or “you need to buy [insert product here] to clean your computer”).
The issue with these is they can seem innocuous, but they can infect your computer further if you click on them. Be wary of any pop-ups, and take note if you notice them much more often.
5. Changed Homepage
Some viruses can change your homepage from the one you chose to a different one. It can also add to your toolbar, at icons to your desktop, and more.
If you notice significant changes like this that you didn’t do yourself, and you know no one else using your computer did it, it’s probably a virus.
6. You’re Getting Unusual Error Messages
When trying to do normal computer activities, like naming/moving files, downloading software, etc, you might notice strange error messages preventing you from doing so or warning you of some error.
This could be a harmless bug in your computer, or it could be because of malware activity. Once you rule out bugs by making sure all your software is updated to the newest versions, you can conclude you might have a virus.
7. Unexplained Network Activity
If you or other people aren’t using the Internet, but you notice that your network’s activity is quite high, this could be the work of a virus. A virus can use your network to send and receive information, which would make it look like you’re using the network much more often than you are.
8. Strange Messages and E-mails
Some malware programs will hijack your e-mail or your social media to send messages to your contact list. You might remember Facebook viruses that would take over your profile and post on people’s walls or message people with suspicious links.
If your friend or family tell you they got a weird message from you, or you notice that there are sent e-mails from your account that you didn’t send, this is a big red flag.
9. Sudden Lack of Storage Space
Viruses can take up a lot of space on your computer. Between software, added files/programs, etc, viruses will fill up any available storage.
If you had plenty of space and suddenly your computer is full, a virus could be the reason. This can cause the slowdowns that we mentioned earlier as well.
10. Disabled Security System
You might be wondering how you got a virus if you have an anti-virus program installed. Some malware programs are so crafty that they can disable your security system.
Take notice if your security system is down or no longer “on” when you never turned it off, as this is a sign of a computer virus.
Signs of a Computer Virus: Bottom Line
While these aren’t the only signs of a computer virus, they are some of the most common that occur when your computer is infected. The good news is, most computers can be saved from a malware infection.
If you need help repairing your computer or need help diagnosing the issue, don’t hesitate to contact us.