Whether it's through a dodgy link, a weird email or a torrent, sometimes viruses end up on our computers. Unfortunately, if malware has infected your PC it probably won't announce itself to you - you're more likely to see the effects. Here are 5 warning signs that there's a virus on your PC.
1. Weird pop-ups appear, particularly offline
If you keep getting a pop-up that appears on your desktop, be suspicious. Sometimes Microsoft might drop you a line to let you know there's an update available, but the pop ups you should be on the lookout for might look a little more like advertising. They will probably be prompting you to install something, and you might not be able to close the window.
In this case, head to Task Manager to close the pop-up rather than clicking anywhere on the pop-up itself - doing so will probably install a load of big bad software onto your computer. Once you've closed it, load up a couple of different anti-virus programs (like Windows Defender, or Malwarebytes) and run full scans to remove anything nasty.
2. Your computer is running very, very slowly
If you've noticed a sudden, unexplained dip in your computer's performance, there could be a busy little virus running away in the background. There's a few easy ways to check this; check your Local Storage in Settings to see how many GB are being used. If there's very little space left, you're probably virus free - but you should clean up your computer!
If the storage looks normal, head to Task Manager and check the Processes tab to see how much CPU and Memory is being used by your apps and programs. You could also check the Startup tab to see if there's anything running which you don't recognise. If you are suspicious, do a quick Google of the name of a program to find out if it's safe or not. Don't uninstall anything without checking first!
3. Everything keeps crashing. All the time.
If you're trying to open a program, or an app, or a word document, and your computer can literally not handle it at all, it's either a pretty big technical issue or a pretty big virus. If something is draining all of your computer's memory, RAM or processing power, the PC might reach a point at which it simply cannot go on. You might struggle to turn your computer on, or get the blue screen of death.
If you start to notice that your computer is struggling to open things, follow the steps we outlined in this article to speed up your computer. If doing that is too much for your PC, and you can't open anything at all, it's time to call in the experts. Have a chat with your IT support team.
4. Your computer has a mind of its own
We're not talking about the programs that open when you turn on your computer - you can change those in the Startup tab of your Task Manager. But if weird things are happening while you're on your computer; like programs opening and closing, the webcam turning on without your input, that's a pretty good indicator of malware.
If a bot or a person somewhere has a degree of control over your computer, you might be unable to fix the problem yourself. Try running your anti-virus software, but in the event that the program closes itself, or that nothing dangerous is flagged, speak to your IT support team.
5. All your contacts are getting odd messages
If your Facebook friends are asking why you're suddenly so invested in teeth whitening, or your contacts are getting emails claiming that you have a terrible photo of them, your PC may be infected. Some malware will start trying to infect other PCs through your accounts; that way, the virus spreads quickly.
Again, keep doing those anti-virus scans, but also change your passwords on any accounts that have been sending out garbage. Make sure these passwords are all different from each other, so any bots or hackers will find it difficult to get back in. It might be worth letting your contacts know that your computer has been infected, to prevent them from clicking on any links you've sent.
If you think your PC has a virus, give our team a call on 0191 482 0444