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Scan and Secure Steps for Windows Computers

To clean your computer and prevent it from getting additional viruses, you can take the following steps in the order provided below. Please be advised that cleaning or attempting to clean malware from a computer may result in system failure and/or data loss. ResNet's recommends students to check in your computer in at the ITS Service Desk. If you proceed with the steps below ResNet holds no liability for the consequences. In addition, in some cases malware can disable or break features so that one or more of these steps are not possible. In such cases,  please check the computer in at the ITS Service Desk for further assistance.

Step 1

Disconnect your computer from the network by unplugging your network cable and turning off your wireless connection. This will make sure that your computer does not spread viruses to your roommates and neighbors. By disconnecting your computer from the Internet you also prevent further risk that your personal information such as credit card information or personal passwords gets compromised. It will also decrease or eliminate the risk that your computer is not re-infected while you are trying to clean it.

Step 2


As soon as you start your computer press F8 repeatedly (it is OK if the computer beeps) until you get a list of start options. Select Safe Mode with Networking. If you are using XP, disable system restore (This will clear our your restore points, but many viruses and spyware hide within these files and therefore render them ineffective. If you are not using XP, go to step 3). Go to Settings/Control Panel, click on System, and then select the System Restore tab, and check the Turn off System Restore check box.

Step 3


Once in Safe Mode*, run an updated anti-virus software package. First, start a scan using your current antivirus program. Write down the names of the viruses that were found. Download a secondary scanner such as Malwarebytes (recommended and free), on a clean computer and transfer it to your computer. Then run a full scan. Restart your computer and scan again, repeat this process until it does not find any viruses. If you have run the scan 3 times and the malware is constantly coming back then please check the computer in at the ITS Service Desk.

Keep in mind that a secondary scanner such as Malwarebytes does not actively look for threats but provides an alternative to manually scan your hard drive when needed. Never run scans from your primary and secondary antivirus protection simultaneously because they may interfere with each other’s removal process.

It is crucial to keep your operating system and anti-virus software package updated daily to prevent future infections. Current recommendations for anti-virus software can be found here.

*NOTE - Many viruses will go undetected unless you do the scans in Safe Mode.

Step 4


Clear your temporary files, browser's Internet history, cache, and cookies. For example, you can perform these tasks by using CCleaner. Be careful cleaning or removing registry entries as this can severely cripple or break the system.

Also note that this clears saved browser passwords, history and your recycle bin, make sure to save anything you need.

Step 5

If you are using Windows XP, re-enable system restore (If you are not using XP, go to step 6). Go to SettingsControl Panel, click on System, and then select the System Restore tab, and UN-check the Turn off System restore check box.

Step 6

windows update

Verify that your firewall is on and that you have the critical patches for your operating system by downloading all the latest updates for Windows, your browsers, Java, Acrobat Reader and Flash. Following these steps is crucial for maintaining both the functionality and security of your computer and the network. If you have any questions about how to follow any of these steps, please contact ResNet on 858-246-4357 or resnet@ucsd.edu