At some point, you are going to get sick. Despite taking such precautions as frequent hand washing or carrying around hand sanitizer, sometimes a germ sneaks its way past your defenses and lodges its way in your system. When that happens, you have to fight to rid yourself of the bug and get well again.
At some point, your computer is also going to get sick. You may have the best defenses - virus protection programs, firewalls and such - but it is almost inevitable. Just as human germs vary, your computer may become infected with something minor - like a trojan - or major - like a worm. When something does slip past your defenses and infects your system, there are steps you can take to get your computer healthy again.
Just like you know your body well enough to recognize when it is sick, you need to know your computer well enough to recognize when something is wrong. Is it running slower than usual? Is it responding to your commands sluggishly? Are you seeing unusual pop-ups or odd messages? When your computer exhibits symptoms like these, do not shrug them off or dismiss them because you don't know what they mean. Instead, take immediate action.
If you suspect that your computer is infected, speed is key. How quickly you respond to your computer's symptoms can make all the difference in how critically it is affected. Initially, don't worry about identifying the culprit. That will come later. For now, focus on isolating the problem before it does too much damage.
When you suspect a problem, you will obviously want to use your anti-virus software to run a thorough scan on your system. Before you do that, though, take a few extra precautions.
Is your computer part of a network?
If so, you'll need to disconnect from it immediately. That's to ensure that your infected PC does not pass the bug on to any other computer. Once you're sure your virus protection program has the latest updates, disconnect from the Internet as well. The web is a bug's way of reaching out to its creator to pass along whatever valuable information it can glean from you.
Is your system clean yet?
Next you'll need to carefully examine what your virus protection may have found. Sometimes it takes more than one scan to completely remove everything. So until your program tells you that everything has been removed or quarantined, do NOT get online, send emails, or reconnect to your home network.
Have you checked for updates?
After you've run the virus scan, you will need to reconnect to the Internet to see if any updates or patches are available for your OS (operating system). Sometimes it is a simple update that does the trick. Updates and patches are beneficial in filling in those vulnerable spots your system may have. Now would also be the time to research the bug that infected your computer. Your virus protection program will usually provide this information.
Unfortunately, sometimes there is no fix and your OS will just have to be reinstalled. That's why it is so beneficial to keep your system backed up - just in case. Most of the time though, the bug will be located and removed and you can get back to enjoying your PC. Just like prevention alone doesn't always keep our bodies perfectly healthy, prevention alone also doesn't keep your PC from ever getting sick. It's the combination - prevention, maintenance, and remedy - that will keep you and your PC in good working order.