As experienced computer technicians, we have a lot of experience surrounding the old topic of virus removal (now more frequently referred to as malware: malicious software), and have assisted thousands of customers since 2002 with malware removal from both home and business level computer users.
We get calls and emails daily regarding computer viruses from troubled individuals that want to know what they can do to remove the virus(es) and spyware, or better put, malware (malicious software) from their computer. Our initial reaction is always to ensure their immediate security, so we ask them questions like:
“Is your machine powered on and are you connected to the internet?”
–>We ask this to ensure that the virus is not transmitting their personal data back to its host (the hacker that wrote the malware application). If so, we ask them to at least disable their internet connection by unplugging their Ethernet cable from either their PC or the Router, and if, god forbid, they are still using dial-up, then disconnect the phone line from their PC. This precautionary action will terminate their connection to the internet and cease any possible communication between the virus/malware and their host.
“What are you running for security software? If yes, is it a free version or paid version, and is your license current?” (e.g. anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, etc. software such as AVG, Norton, Avast, Panda, McAfee, CA, etc.)
–> This helps us determine how badly their machine is infected. Let’s face it, none of these security software are infallible, but we try to put our best foot forward when protecting our networks, data and PC’s. If they tell us that they are not running any security software or it has expired, we know, right off the bat, that the machine is swimming with many viruses.
“Are you able to get online?”
–> This helps us determine whether or not a remote session would even be possible, or do we need to physically possess the computer to conduct a proper virus removal. It also helps us determine how badly the viruses have infiltrated the computer.
A PROPER virus removal….hmm…that brings us to the theme of this blog post. Every kid out there with a screw driver and a computer that thinks they know even a little about computer repair, is on the web advertising his or her services (mostly on Craigslist.com and Google/Yahoo & Bing Maps since it is free to advertise there) claiming that they are some kind of expert: BUYERS BEWARE!
- They undercut the market since they do not have any company overhead such as insurance payments and in many cases personal and/or commercial rent/utilities, etc.
- They don’t have any technical certifications and/or very little field experience beyond their own PC’s
- Most of which are still in high school or just barely graduated (if they graduated at all), and even more have zero college or formal education, and definitely no technical training.
- They don’t carry any sort of insurance, so when they botch the job and lose all your data you as a consumer have zero recourse.
- Most importantly: They don’t truly understand Virus Removal and how to do it correctly!
We as a company are constantly interviewing technicians and looking for the best of the best technicians. As such, we have a pretty steady flow of resumes coming in through our IT Jobs recruitment. and we personally review each and every one of these resumes – most of which get tossed out. Occasionally we do receive resumes that look promising and merit at least an initial investigatory phone call – which I myself place. When conducting these initial interview calls, we begin to drill down on the technical aspects of computer repair and networking as a start to begin to judge what the candidates’ true technical knowledge and experience are, and one of the first topics we discuss is virus removal.
10 times out of 10, the candidate will state that they really understand virus removal and it is no problem for them. Then, as the conversation continues, and we ask them to walk us through a typical virus removal process and we discover about 9.5 times out of 10 that the candidate really doesn’t get how to do a simple, or a complex (or thorough) virus removal. It is not as simple as most people think. Typically unless someone has been trained by a technician who really knows what they are doing, they themselves really don’t know the proper tools to use, or how to use them correctly (e.g. the anti-virus software that really work, how to effectively use a hard drive adapter kit so you don’t boot into windows but can read the drive and run virus scans, how to use Safe Mode and Safe Mode with Networking effectively to ensure success, etc.)
Even more importantly, most don’t get that we first and foremost have to be concerned with any sensitive data on the customer’s hard drive as a priority to recover, and then worry about the virus removal process. For most customers the data on their hard drive is a priority. As such, we always prioritize the data recovery and include questions surrounding this topic in our list of questions when we are “getting our arms around” the problem initially.
Lastly, most techs out there will only run one (or perhaps) two anti-virus applications on a computer, find some viruses, remove them, and then think they are all done – when in fact, they have only removed a minority of the malware on the hard drive and most likely still have some remnants of the malware, which are most likely to return in some fashion. These are the techs that will tell you they can do a virus removal in an hour or two. To truly do a thorough cleaning of a hard drive the proper way, you must run at least 4+ applications on your hard drive – which brings me back to the point that to do a proper virus removal takes anywhere from at least 3 hours, to as long as 24 hours depending on the depth of infection, how many files are on the hard drive and how powerful the machine is from a hardware standpoint.
We also recommend running a registry cleaner software such as RegCure to help optimize your PC’s performance and cut down on possible registry errors.
Feel free to call us to answer any questions you have – no obligation for free advice: 1-866-417-3945. It is our goal to help you achieve the peace of mind over your computer system, and the computer services company that assists you with your home or business IT infrastructure.