How to recover your PC after malware infection [FULL GUIDE]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Because Windows is the most popular operating system in the world, it is a popular target for many different kinds of malware.
  • Recovering a Windows PC after malware infection can be tricky but we have your back: enter in safe mode, use a live antivirus rescue disk and much more.
  • Looking for a specific virus or behavior? See our Malware Removal section for information on specific software or how to deal with them and prevent malware in the future.
  • Covering many other areas as well, check out the How To Guides Hub for easy to understand tech instructions.
fix your Windows 10 PC after malware infection

Malware infection can be a serious problem, especially if the malware keeps spreading through your Windows 10 PC. There are many types of malware, and while some are just annoying, others can be rather dangerous.

If your PC is infected, today we’re going to show you a few tips to recover your PC after a malware infection.

How do I remove malware from my Windows 10 PC? The easiest solution is through Safe Mode. Usually, malware can end up on your PC from your browser or some downloaded files. If that doesn’t work, then use a live antivirus rescue disk and disable suspicious startup items.

For more information on how to do that, check the complete guide below.

How to delete malware from your Windows 10 PC for good:

  1. Enter Safe Mode
  2. Delete temporary files
  3. Scan your PC with an antivirus tool
  4. Check your web browser
  5. Use a live antivirus rescue disk
  6. Disable suspicious startup items
  7. Use Linux Live CD
  8. Reset Windows 10

Solution 1 – Enter Safe Mode

If you have malware issues, you might be able to solve them simply be entering Safe Mode. This mode starts with only basic services and applications, so by entering Safe Mode you can prevent the malware from running.

Entering Safe Mode is relatively simple, and you can do that by following these steps:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click the Power button, hold Shift on your keyboard and choose Restart from the menu.
  3. Full screen menu will now appear. Choose Troubleshooting > Advanced Options > Startup Settings. Now click the Restart button.malware delete on windows 10
  4. After your PC restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Select Safe Mode by pressing the corresponding key.

If you can’t enter Windows 10 at all, you can enter Safe Mode simply by restarting your PC during the boot sequence. While Windows 10 boots, simply press the restart button on your PC.

Repeat this process several times until the Automatic Repair starts. After that, simply follow the steps above to enter Safe Mode.

After you enter Safe Mode, run your antivirus tool and try to delete the malicious files. In some cases you might even have to locate the file and delete it manually.

If you decide to do that, be sure to hold Shift to permanently delete the file from your computer.

Can’t Boot Into Safe Mode? Here’s the guide for you

Solution 2 – Delete temporary files

Users are suggesting to remove temporary files if you wish to remove malware from your PC. Malware sometimes hides itself in Temporary files folder and in order to remove it, it’s recommended to delete temporary files.

This is rather simple, and you can do it simply by using Disk Cleanup tool. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter disk cleanup. Select Disk Cleanup from the list of results.
  2. Now you need to select the drive that you want to cleanup. In most cases, temporary files are stored on your C drive, so be sure to select C: and and click OK.
  3. Wait for a few moments while Disk Cleanup scans the selected drive.
  4. Select the type of files that you want to remove. Be sure to select Temporary files from the list.
  5. Click OK and click Delete Files button.
  6. Wait while Disk Cleanup removes the selected files.

Keep in mind that removing temporary files doesn’t always fix the malware problems, but it won’t hurt you to try it.

Solution 3 – Scan your PC with an antivirus tool

If your PC is infected, the first thing that you need to do is to perform a detailed scan with your antivirus software. Depending on the size of your partition and your search options the scanning process can take a while, so you’ll need to be patient.

After the system scan is completed, you’ll be asked to remove the infected files.

If that doesn’t help, you might have to use a different antivirus tool. Although antivirus tools are a necessity, not a single one is perfect and only one antivirus can’t protect you from every threat.

To do that, simply download a tool such as Malwarebytes, install it and download the necessary updates. After that, disconnect from the Internet and perform the scan.

Wait while the antivirus scans your PC and then remove the infected files. Malwarebytes is one of the most popular tools for removing malware, but you can download and use any similar tool.

In some cases, you’ll have to download and use multiple tools to remove the malicious files.

Best antivirus solutions for Windows 10 to use today

Solution 4 – Check your web browser

Sometimes, malware will hijack your browser and open a certain page instead of your start page. In addition, your default search engine might be changed as well.

If this happens, you need to open your browser settings and restore them to default. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Menu button and choose Settings.remove malware windows 10
  2. Now click Manage search engines button in Search section.
  3. List of all available search engines will appear. Make sure to select your desired search engine and set it as default. If you see any unknown or suspicious entries on the list, be sure to remove them.
  4. After doing that, restart your browser and check if the problem is resolved.

If your default search engine isn’t affected, check the startup pages. To do that, open the Settings tab and follow these steps:

  1. In On startup section make sure that Open a specific page or set of pages isn’t selected.
  2. Click Set pages.
  3. If you see any unknown entries, just click the X button to remove them.
  4. After that, click OK to save changes and restart your browser.

Malware can also disguise itself as a browser extension, so it’s recommended that you remove all unknown or suspicious extensions. To do that, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click the Menu button and choose More Tools.
  2. Select Extensions from the list on the left.malware extensions windows 10
  3. The list of all installed extensions will now appear. Locate any suspicious extensions and click the Remove button next to them to delete them from your extensions
  4. After removing suspicious extensions, restart your browser and check if the problem is resolved.

If the issue still persists, you might want to try resetting your browser to default settings. By resetting your browser you’ll remove all installed extensions, and revert all settings to default. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Menu button and choose Settings from the menu.
  2. When the Settings tab opens, scroll all the way down and click the Show advanced settings.delete malware windows 10
  3. Scroll all the way down and click Reset settings button.remove malware from chrome windows 10
  4. The confirmation menu will now appear. Click the Reset button to continue.

If you want to make this process faster, simply navigate to chrome://settings/resetProfileSettings in Chrome address bar and you’ll see the reset confirmation dialog.

After resetting your browser, all settings and extensions will be removed and hopefully, the malware that infected your browser will be removed as well.

In our example, we showed you how to fix malware problems with Google Chrome, but if you use any other third-party browser the process should be similar. Prevent other browser malware using one of our top Chrome antivirus extensions.

Solution 5 – Use a live antivirus rescue disk

If your computer can’t work properly or if you can’t boot to Windows 10, you might want to consider using a live antivirus rescue disk.

Many antivirus companies offer rescue disks for free, so you just need to download one and burn it to a CD or create a bootable USB flash drive and use it to boot your PC from it.

Companies such as Kaspersky, Bitdefender and Avira offer antivirus rescue disks, so you can download and use any of these or use any other rescue disk that you want.

After booting the PC from the antivirus rescue disk, follow the instructions on the screen to scan and remove malicious files. If you can’t access your PC and download an antivirus rescue disk, we suggest that you download it by using another available PC.

Solution 6 – Disable suspicious startup items

Sometimes malware disguises itself as a desktop application and it will start automatically with your PC. To fix this problem first you need to disable the malware from automatically starting with your PC. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc shortcut to open Task Manager.
  2. When Task Manager starts, go to Startup tab.
  3. List of all startup applications will now appear. If you notice any suspicious items, simply right-click them and choose Disable from the menu.remove startup malware in windows 10

 Task Manager not working as it should? We have your back with this guide

We also recommend that you uninstall any suspicious applications from your PC. As we already mentioned, malware can sometimes disguise itself as a regular application so it’s important that you remove any suspicious applications. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Go to System > Apps & features.
  3. The list of all installed applications will now appear.
  4. Check the list for any suspicious applications that you don’t recognize. Select the problematic application and click on Uninstall.

You can also uninstall applications by using Control Panel. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows key + S and type Control Panel. Hit Enter.
  2. Go to Uninstall a program under Programs and simply select the application you want to remove and choose Uninstall/Change from the menu.delete malware control panel windows 10

Solution 7 – Use Linux Live CD

If the problem with malware still persists, you might want to download any version of Linux and create a Live CD or bootable USB flash drive.

After you boot from the flash drive you’ll be able to access your system. After doing that, you can use Linux Live CD to navigate through your hard drive and delete the infected file manually.

Solution 8 – Reset Windows 10

If the issue still persists, you might have to reset Windows 10. By resetting Windows 10 all your files and applications will be removed and hopefully, the malware will be removed as well.

Before you perform a Windows 10 reset we recommend to create a backup of all your important files. If you can’t access Windows 10 at all, you’ll have to use Linux Live CD to back up your important files.

To reset Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Open the Start menu, and click the Power button. Hold down the Shift key and choose Restart from the menu. If you can’t access Windows 10, try restarting your PC several times during the boot sequence.
  2. You’ll see a list of options. Choose Troubleshoot > Reset this PC > Remove everything. If you’re asked to insert Windows 10 installation media, be sure to do so.Reset this PC remove malware windows 10
  3. Select your version of Windows and choose Only the drive where Windows is installed option.
  4. Now you can choose between two options. Just remove my files option will delete all your files and applications from the drive and perform a quick format. Some of your files can be recovered by special software if you decide to use this option. Fully clean the drive option will delete all your files and applications, but you won’t be able to recover them by using this method. In most cases you can choose Just remove my files option to fix any problems with the malware.
  5. Now you just need to click the Reset button and the reset process will start.
  6. Follow the instructions on the screen in order to complete the reset.

Once your PC is running, be sure to download and install antivirus software and perform a system scan just in case. Before you transfer your backed up files be sure to scan them with your antivirus.

In order to prevent these types of problems in the future, be sure to frequently update your antivirus and download the latest Windows 10 updates.

Malware infection can be a serious problem sometimes. There are different types of malware and while some malware might change your start page or search engine in your browser, others can cause serious problems.

If you have malware issues, be sure to try all solutions from this article. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach for the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about Windows recovery after malware infection

  • How do I fix an infected malware file?

An infected file can be fixed by an antivirus after it scans that file and determines it can be cleaned. Choose any tool from our list of the best antivirus for home users.

  • Can Windows Defender remove malware?

Common malware can be removed automatically by Windows Defender. Some pesky files can only be removed in Safe Mode. Still, there are a number of high-powered malware that require a more powerful tool such as the ones found in our guide of top malware removal software.

  • How do I know if my computer is infected with malware?

The most common symptoms are:

  • random popups after starting the computer
  • sluggish behavior: slow start, slow response time, high HDD/Network activity
  • lack of storage space
  • spam-sending from local email account(s)

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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