Remove Viruses, Trojans and Malware from Windows (Free Guide)

If your computer slows down, your screen is inundated with annoying ads, your browser settings change, or there’s a weird increase in your system’s Internet activity, then it is possible that you have malware installed …

If your computer slows down, your screen is inundated with annoying ads, your browser settings change, or there’s a weird increase in your system’s Internet activity, then it is possible that you have malware installed on your computer. This guide teaches you how to remove all types of Malware for free by following easy step-by-step instructions.

Windows Malware

What is Malware?

Malware, or “malicious software,” is an umbrella term that describes any malicious program or code that is harmful to systems. Hackers use malware for any number of reasons such as, extracting personal information or passwords, stealing money, or preventing owners from accessing their devices.

Malware includes computer viruses, ransomware, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, adware, malicious BHOs, rogue security software, and other malicious programs; the majority of active malware threats are usually worms or trojans rather than viruses.

Below you can find a short description for the most common types of malware:

  1. Trojan Horse
    A Trojan Horse is a type of malware that pretends to be something useful, helpful, or fun while actually causing harm or stealing data. Trojans are often silently downloading other malware (e.g. spyware, adware, ransomware) on an infected device as well.
  2. Worm
    A computer worm is a type of Trojan that is capable of propagating or replicating itself from one system to another. It can do this in a number of ways. Unlike viruses, worms don’t need a host file to latch onto. After arriving and executing on a target system, it can do a number of malicious tasks, such as dropping other malware, copying itself onto devices physically attached to the affected system, deleting files, and consuming bandwidth.
  3. Spyware
    Spyware is a type of malware that’s hard to detect. It collects information about your surfing habits, browsing history, or personal information (such as credit card numbers), and often uses the Internet to pass this information along to third parties without you knowing. Keyloggers are a type of spyware that monitors your keystrokes.
  4. Ransomware
    Ransom malware or ransomware is a threat that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files and demands a ransom payment in order to regain access.
  5. Rootkits
    The term “rootkit” comes from “rootkit,” a package giving the highest privileges in the system. It is used to describe software that allows for the stealthy presence of unauthorized functionality in the system. Rootkits modify and intercept typical modules of the environment (OS, or even deeper, rootkits).
  6. Adware
    Adware, short for advertising-supported software, is arguably the forerunner of the modern-day PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program). Adware is typically a standalone program that displays adverts to the end-user in a variety of forms: inside the program itself, or via pop-ups, slide-in adverts, browser pop-ups, inserted adverts, or altered website content. The revenue generated by the adverts is how the program the adware is attached to is paid for, meaning the end-user receives their desired tool or service for “free.”

Is my Windows computer infected with malware?

It’s not always easy to tell if your computer was compromised or not, because these days cybercriminals are going to great lengths to hide their code and conceal what their programs are doing on an infected computer.
It’s very difficult to provide a list of characteristic symptoms of an infected computer because the same symptoms can also be caused by hardware incompatibilities or system instability, however here are just a few examples that may suggest that your PC has been compromised :

  • You may receive the error “Internet Explorer could not display the page” when attempting to access certain websites
  • Your web browser (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome) freezes, hangs or is unresponsive
  • Your web browser’s default homepage is changed
  • Access to security related websites is blocked
  • You get redirected to web pages other than the one you intended to go to
  • You receive numerous web-browser popup messages
  • Strange or unexpected toolbars appear at the top of your web browser
  • Your computer runs slower than usual
  • Your computer freezes, hangs or is unresponsive
  • There are new icons on your desktop that you do not recognize
  • Your computer restarts by itself (but not a restart caused by Windows Updates)
  • You see unusual error messages (e.g., messages saying there are missing or corrupt files folders)
  • You are unable to access the Control Panel, Task Manager, Registry Editor or Command Prompt.

To check your Windows computer for malware and remove it for free, please use the guide below.

How to remove malware from Windows (Virus Removal Guide)

The below instructions are for Windows users, however, we also have an Android Guide and a Mac Guide which should help clean up your device.

This malware removal guide may appear overwhelming due to the number of steps and numerous programs that are being used. We have only written it this way to provide clear, detailed, and easy-to-understand instructions that anyone can use to remove malware for free.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.

To remove clean-up a malware infected Windows computer, follow these steps:


STEP 1: Start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking

In this first step, we will start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking to prevent malicious drivers and services from loading at Windows start-up. We’re using Safe mode because it starts Windows in a basic state, using a limited set of files and drivers. Use the below tabs to select the instructions for your operating system version.

Windows 10 or Windows 8Windows 7
Before you enter Safe Mode, you need to enter the Windows Recovery Environment (winRE). To do this, follow the below steps:

  1. Press Windows logo key + I on your keyboard to open Settings. If that doesn’t work, select the Start button, then select Settings.
    Go to Windows Settings to remove malware
  2. When the Windows Settings window opens, select Update & Security, then click on Recovery.
    Recovery window in Windows 10
  3. Under Advanced startup, select Restart now.
    Open Advance Startup to remove malware

Now that you are in Windows Recovery Environment, you will follow these steps to take you to safe mode:

  1. On the Choose an option screen, select “Troubleshoot“.
    Windows 10 - Start in Safe Mode with Network to remove to remove malware
  2. On the “Troubleshoot” screen, click the “Advanced Options” button.
    Windows 10 - Start in Safe Mode with Network - Step 2
  3. On the “Advanced Options” page, click the “Startup Settings” option. In Windows 8, this option is labeled “Windows Startup Settings” instead.
    Windows 10 - Start in Safe Mode with Network - Step 3
  4. On the “Startup Settings” page, click the “Restart”.
    Windows 10 - Start in Safe Mode with Network - Step 4
  5. After your device restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Select option 5 from the list or press F5 to enter Safe Mode with Networking.
    Boot in Safe Mode Windows 10 to remove to remove malware
  6. While your computer is running in Safe Mode with Networking, we will need to download, install and run a scan with Malwarebytes (explained in Step 2).
  1. Remove all floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs from your computer, and then restart your computer.
  2. When the computer starts you will see your computer’s hardware being listed. When you see this information start to press the F8 key repeatedly until you are presented with the Advanced Boot Options.
    F8 Safe Mode
  3. In the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode with Networking and then press Enter.
    Safe Mode with Networking screen
  4. While your computer is running in Safe Mode with Networking, we will need to download, install and run a scan with Malwarebytes (explained in Step 2). In some cases, victims may have issues while trying to start the computer in Safe Mode with Networking, if this happens, you can try to scan your computer with Malwarebytes in normal mode.

STEP 2: Use Malwarebytes to remove trojans, viruses and other malware

In this second step, we will install and run a scan with Malwarebytes to remove trojans, viruses, and other malware from your computer.

Malwarebytes Free is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

  1. Download Malwarebytes Free.

    While your computer is in Safe Mode with Networking, download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes)
  2. Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.

    When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the MBSetup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.

    Double-click on MBSetup installer to install Malwarebytes
    You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the Malwarebytes installation.
    Windows asking for permission to run the Malwarebytes installer

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.

    When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes setup wizard which will guide you through the installation process. The Malwarebytes installer will first ask you on what type of computer are you installing this program, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
    Malwarebytes setup: Click on Personal Computer step 1

    On the next screen, click “Install” to install Malwarebytes on your computer.
    Malwarebytes Setup: Click on Install

    When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen. Click the “Get started” button.

  4. Select “Use Malwarebytes Free”.

    After installing Malwarebytes, you’ll be prompted to select between the Free and the Premium version. The Malwarebytes Premium edition includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and ransomware protection, however, we will use the Free version to clean up the computer.
    Click on “Use Malwarebytes Free“.
    Click on Use Malwarebytes Free to continue with the install

  5. Click on “Scan”.

    To scan your computer with Malwarebytes, click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for malware.
    Click on Scan button

  6. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will scan your computer for adware and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Malwarebytes scanning for malicious programs

  7. Click on “Quarantine”.

    When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.
    Review the malicious programs and click on Quarantine to remove Total Antivirus 2020

  8. Restart computer.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes will ask you to restart your computer.
    Malwarebytes requesting to restart computer to complete the Total Antivirus 2020 removal process

    When the malware removal process is complete, your computer should start in normal mode (if not, simply restart your device to exit Safe Mode) and continue with the rest of the instructions. Now that your computer is out for the Safe Mode, we recommend that you run another scan with Malwarebytes to make sure all the malware that was detected is removed.


STEP 3: Use HitmanPro to scan for malware and browser hijackers

In this third step, we will install HitmanPro to scan the computer for malware and browser hijackers.

HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner that takes a unique cloud-based approach to malware scanning. HitmanPro scans the behavior of active files and also files in locations where malware normally resides for suspicious activity. If it finds a suspicious file that’s not already known, HitmanPro sends it to its clouds to be scanned by two of the best antivirus engines today, which are Bitdefender and Kaspersky.

Although HitmanPro is shareware and costs $24.95 for 1 year on 1 PC, there is actually no limit in scanning. The limitation only kicks in when there is a need to remove or quarantine detected malware by HitmanPro on your system and by then, you can activate the one time 30-days trial to enable the cleanup.

  1. Download HitmanPro.

    You can download HitmanPro by clicking the link below.

    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Install HitmanPro.

    When HitmanPro has finished downloading, double-click on “hitmanpro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “hitmanpro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows) to install this program on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    Double-click on the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide
    You may be presented with a User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow HitmanPro to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.

    Windows asking for permissions to run the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts.

    When HitmanPro starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below. Click on the “Next” button to perform a system scan.
    Click Next to install HitmanProHitmanPro final installer screen

  4. Wait for the HitmanPro scan to complete.

    HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for malicious programs. This process will take a few minutes.
    HitmanPro while scanning for malware - Help Guide

  5. Click on “Next”.

    When HitmanPro has finished the scan, it will display a list of all the malware that the program has found. Click on the “Next” button to remove the malicious programs.
    HitmanPro scan summary. Click Next to remove malware - Help Guide

  6. Click on “Activate free license”.

    Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial and remove all the malicious files from your PC.
    Activate the free HitmanPro license keyEnter your email to complete the HitmanPro activation - Help Guide
    When the process is complete, you can close HitmanPro and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 4: Use AdwCleaner to remove adware and malicious browser policies

In this fourth step, we will use AdwCleaner to remove malicious browser policies and adware from your computer.

AdwCleaner is a free popular on-demand scanner that can detect and remove malware that even the most well-known anti-virus and anti-malware applications fail to find. This on-demand scanner includes a lot of tools that can be used to fix side-effects of adware or browser hijackers.

  1. Download AdwCleaner.

    You can download AdwCleaner by clicking the link below.

    ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download AdwCleaner)
  2. Double-click on the setup file.

    Double-click on the file named “adwcleaner_x.x.x.exe” to start AdwCleaner. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    AdwCleaner Setup File
    You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    AdwCleaner and Windows User Account Control Pop-up

  3. Enable “Reset Chrome policies”.

    When AdwCleaner starts, on the left side of the window, click on “Settings” and then then enable “Reset Chrome policies“.
    Enable Reset Chrome policies

  4. Click on “Scan Now”.

    On the left side of the window, click on “Dashboard” and then click “Scan Now” to perform a system scan.
    AdwCleaner Scan Now button

  5. Wait for the AdwCleaner scan to complete.

    AdwCleaner will now scan your PC for malicious files. This process can take a few minutes.
    AdwCleaner Scanning for Find.defaultsearch.info virus

  6. Click on “Clean & Repair”.

    When AdwCleaner has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found. Click on the “Clean & Repair” button to remove the malicious files from your computer.
    Click Clean to remove Find.defaultsearch.info

  7. Click on “Clean & Restart Now”

    When the malware removal process is complete, AdwCleaner may need to restart your device. Click on the “Clean & Restart Now” button to finish the removal process.
    Click Clean & Restart Now to remove Find.defaultsearch.info virus
    When the process is complete, you can close Adwcleaner and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 5: Double-check for malicious programs with Emsisoft Emergency Kit

While the previous scans are more than enough, we’re recommending Emsisoft Emergency Kit to users who still have malware-related issues or just want to make sure their computer is 100% clean.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit is a free and powerful on-demand scanner that can be used to remove viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, worms, and other malicious programs.

  1. Download Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

    You can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit by clicking the link below.

    Emsisoft logoEMSISOFT EMERGENCY KIT DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit)
  2. Install Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

    Double-click on the EmsisoftEmergencyKit setup file to start the installation process, then click on the “Install” button.
    Click on the Install button

  3. Start Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

    On your desktop the “EEK” folder (C:\EEK) should now be open. To start Emsisoft, click on the “Start Emsisoft Emergency Kit” file to open this program.
    Click on Start Emsisoft Emergency Kit

    You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    Allow Emsisoft to run on your PC - UAC

  4. Click on “Malware Scan”.

    Emsisoft Emergency Kit will start and it will ask you for permission to update itself. Once the update process is complete, click on the “Scan” tab, and perform a “Malware Scan“.

    Perform a Malware Scan with Emsisoft Emergency Kit
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit will now scan your PC for malicious files. This process can take a few minutes.
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanning

  5. Click on “Quarantine selected”.

    When the Emsisoft scan has finished, you will be presented with a screen reporting which malicious files were detected on your computer. To remove the malicious programs, click on the “Quarantine selected“.
    Click on Quarantine Selected to remove the malicious programs

    When the malware removal process is complete, the Emsisoft Emergency Kit may need to restart your computer. Click on the “Reebot” button to restart your PC. After you restart your computer, you can close Emsisoft Anti-Malware and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 6: Remove browser redirects and pop-ups from the browser

ChromeFirefoxMicrosoft EdgeInternet Explorer

Remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Google Chrome

To remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Google Chrome, we will remove the browser extension and then check the settings.

  1. Remove malicious browser extension.

    In the top right corner, click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three vertical dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “More tools“, then click on “Extensions“.

    Go to Extensions and remove malicious extension

    The “Extensions” screen will be displayed with a list of all the extensions installed on Chrome. Scroll through the list until you find an unknown or suspicious extension, and then click on “Remove” to remove it.

    Remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Chrome

  2. Change the search engine to Google.

    In the top right corner, click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three vertical dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “Settings“.
    Open the Settings menu

    On the left side of the window, click on “Search engine“, then click “Manage search engines…“. In the opened list look for unwanted search engines, when located click the three vertical dots near the URL and select “Remove from list“.

    Find BeastMusic Search and remove it as default search engine

    Next, find Google Search, click the three vertical dots and select “Make default“.

  3. Check the homepage and new tab settings.

    In the top right corner, click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three vertical dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “Settings“.
    Open the Settings menu

    In the “On startup” section, disable malicious extension, then select “Open the New Tab page” as your preferred setting.
    Remove browser hijackers and pop-ups as startup page

If your browser is still being redirected to malicious sites or are you seeing pop-ups after you’ve performed the above steps, we strongly recommend resetting Google Chrome to its default settings. To do this, type “chrome://settings/resetProfileSettings” in your browser URL bar, then click on “Reset settings“.

Remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Firefox

To remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Firefox we will reset the browser settings to its default. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history, and open tabs.

  1. Click the menu icon, then click on “Help”.

    Click on Firefox’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Help“.
    Click on the Firefox Menu button then select Help button

  2. Click “Troubleshooting Information”.

    From the Help menu, click on “Troubleshooting Information“.
    Click on Troubleshooting Information button

  3. Click on “Refresh Firefox”

    Click the “Refresh Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
    Click on the Refresh Firefox button

  4. Confirm.

    To continue, click on the “Refresh Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
    Click again on Refresh Firefox

  5. Click “Finish”.

    Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on “Finish“.

    Your old Firefox profile will be placed on your desktop in a folder named “Old Firefox Data“. If the reset didn’t fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created. If you don’t need this folder any longer, you should delete it as it contains sensitive information.

Remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Microsoft Edge

To remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Microsoft Edge we will reset the browser settings to its default. This will reset your startup page, new tab page, search engine, and pinned tabs. It will also disable all extensions and clear temporary data like cookies. Your favorites, history and saved passwords will not be cleared.

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    In the top right corner, click on Microsoft Edge’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “Settings“.”.
    Open the Settings menu

  2. Click on “Reset Settings”.

    On the left side of the window, click on “Reset Settings”.
    Click Reset Settings option

  3. Click on “Restore settings to their default values”.

    In the main window, click on “Restore settings to their default values”.
    Click on Restore settings to their default values option

  4. Click “Reset”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, click on the “Reset” button.
    Click Reset to reset your browser

Remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Internet Explorer

To remove browser hijackers and pop-ups from Internet Explorer we will reset the browser settings to its default. You can reset Internet Explorer settings to return them to the state they were in when Internet Explorer was first installed on your computer.

  1. Go to “Internet Options”.

    Open Internet Explorer, click on the gear icon in the upper right part of your browser, then select “Internet Options“.

  2. Select the “Advanced” tab, then click “Reset”

    In the “Internet Options” dialog box, select the “Advanced” tab, then click on the “Reset” button.

  3. Click on “Reset”.

    In the “Reset Internet Explorer settings” section, select the “Delete personal settings” checkbox, then click on the “Reset” button.

  4. Click on “Close”.

    When Internet Explorer has completed its task, click on the “Close” button in the confirmation dialogue box.
    Close your browser and then you can open Internet Explorer again.


Your computer should now be free of malware. If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove malware from your device, you can ask for help in our Malware Removal Assistance for Windows forum.