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Tips for when your anti-virus software does not appear to be detecting or removing malware

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The malware/spyware/virus/adware landscape is constantly changing, and it is safe to say that there is no single all-singing, all-dancing product that is going to successfully detect every threat traversing across the internet at any given moment. Undesirable software is constantly being spread around, whether this is via spam emails, questionable websites, or bundled into (often legitimate and harmless) software via an optional tickbox that less savvy users will breeze past without a second thought. It is certainly not enough to simply rely on your anti-virus software to catch all of these nasties. Sufficient knowledge in regards to prevention is very highly recommended, however that is a topic that deserves an entire post of its own.

What I will cover here are some steps you can try if you believe your PC may be infected with malicious software - which your currently installed anti-virus suite does not appear to be detecting or removing.

NOTE: The focus here is on PCs running Windows.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to the rescue! Firstly, you should download a copy of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, install it, and run through a system scan. This software is free, unless you want to activate real-time protection. The free version is sufficient for the purpose of this article.

Download it here -

Once the system scan has been completed, you may be shocked at how many alerts are reported! Review the results and quarantine the infected files. Restart your PC. If the symptoms you were experiencing that lead you to believe you had an infection of sorts have now stopped, then you may be in luck.

Want/need to go one step further? There are some malware variants that are able to stop you from running these scans, or from even downloading the software in the first place. In these instances, you could try a "Rescue Disk"

Rescue Disks are bootable versions of the scanning software that you can burn to a CD/DVD, or use to create a bootable USB drive. The advantage of using these is that they are run without your system actually loading up your copy of Windows. The rescue disk will have its own operating system that it will load to memory. This way, malware does not have a chance to load up and stop your scanning software.

There are two options I would recommend here. The first option is Hirens BootCD. Hirens BootCD is a basically a miniature copy of Windows, with a bunch of useful software bundled in that will run from a CD or USB drive. It contains a copy of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware that you can run, and also Avira Antivir Personal, SuperAntispyware, and Spybot – Search & Destroy – All of which are great free malware/virus removal applications.

You can view an in-depth guide on how to use this here -

Another option, which is perhaps even easier to use, is Bitdefender’s Rescue CD. This is a very straightforward rescue CD. Once booted, you simply follow the on-screen menu to do a system scan.

Bitdefender have an official guide here -

At this stage there should be a decent chance that you’ve removed the malware that your normal anti-virus software was not able to!
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