Signs That a Computer Has a Virus
Although it is easy to tell when your computer has had a virus for some time, catching one early on requires some diligence. Even small changes in your computer's speed or normal functionality could signal the presence of a virus. While some viruses result in an immediate crash, most viruses implant themselves slowly, and their effects can last for months, which is why early detection is key.
- It can only take a matter of minutes for your computer to become infected with a virus, but the time you have until the virus renders your computer completely inoperable can vary. Typically, it will take about 6 months for an unchecked worm virus to completely shut down a computer. However, you will probably start noticing effects of the virus within 3 to 6 weeks.
- The first thing that is affected by a virus is your processor. Because viruses are independent entities that require the use of a processor, you will notice that other programs that normally run well with no incident will start to chug or will be slow to open. Video and video-game performance will also be affected by the virus' strain on the computer's processor.
- Because the processor's power is being slowly eroded by the virus, the next thing you will notice that may indicate a virus is a loss in speed. Slower web page loads will be most immediate, but over time, programs as simple as word processors will be slower to respond to input.
- Once the virus has progressed very far, different programs will begin to malfunction. Some programs will stop opening, and others will open but freeze or stop responding after a few minutes of use. Programs will freeze, close unexpectedly or even fail to launch as a result of a virus. If you notice these phenomena, the virus in your computer has likely progressed to a point where it is beyond repair, and you will have to reformat your hard disk to get rid of it.
- Although the effects of computer viruses are far-reaching, they can be prevented. Simply installing and running an anti-virus program at regular intervals, as well as using a firewall program, should be enough to keep most viruses away. See the Resources section for links to free anti-virus and firewall programs. It is also helpful to stay away from websites you are unfamiliar with or that you don't trust.