Can you remove a computer virus without Antivirus software?

Can you remove a computer virus without Antivirus software?
(Image credit: Lewis Ngugi from Pexels)

You don't have to be a computer genius to remove a virus without the aid of the best antivirus software, but it helps. AV programs often come as standard when you buy any of the latest home computers, so you should have some kind of protection at the start. But they're an extra expense, and many people allow their antivirus sub to lapse at some point. This puts you at risk of catching a nasty computer virus.

The best way to solve this is to resubscribe to some kind of internet security software and scan/remove your computer's HDD for any intrusions and malware. That will usually do the trick. However, if you are somewhat technically savvy, and you really don't want to pay, you can try a few things before opting for premium antivirus  protection.

Why is it so hard to remove a Virus without software?

A hacker, or sometimes a team of hackers, who create computer malware all have at least one goal in common. That is to make it as difficult as possible to remove a virus they create from your computer. Some hackers are very intelligent and spend countless hours brainstorming ways to hide corrupt files all throughout your computer, making removal extremely difficult. In general, you cannot simply use Windows' Add/Remove software tool to get rid of most viruses today. The display icons for the virus may disappear, but the virus will still be running, hidden in the background on your computer, and continuing to wreak havoc on your system.

In order to remove a virus without software, you will most likely need to search online and download a long list of instructions. You will need to know your computer inside and out and have a good chunk of time to dedicate to the manual removal of a virus. However, if the virus that ails your computer is not all that malicious by relative comparison, a few generalized quick steps, listed below, may or may not do the trick.

Can you remove a computer virus without Antivirus software?

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Some quick steps to try to remove a virus...

  1. Hold down the CTRL, ALT and DEL buttons simultaneously – this will launch the Windows Task Manager. Once the Task Manager launched, click on the Processes tab. Look through every single process, which is a program that is currently processing information on your computer. If you see anything that looks unfamiliar, search the file name on the web and see if it's connected with any viruses. If you're confident that a particular file is corrupt, click the End Process button for this file.
  2. Launch your System Configuration utility and click the Startup tab. This lists all the programs that automatically run once your computer is booted. Most viruses launch themselves whenever you load up your OS, so again, look for any odd or unknown programs on this list. If you see a program with a surefire red flag, delete it from this list.
  3. Click the Start menu and go to your hard drive utility. Delete the viral files directly from your hard drive. This may or may not delete the virus in its entirety.

Remove a virus easily with software

If you have a very nasty virus, removing it manually is going to consume a lot of your time. If you are not particularly tech savvy, trying to remove a virus manually could be a waste of time if you're not successful, and it will give you a headache in the process.

The top-rated antivirus suites have a high rate of success when it comes to removing many types of pre-existing infections on your computer. The better packages can also protect you from close to 100% of future threats. Since this software ranges in price from as little as $30 to $60, many users find that using antivirus software to remove a virus is by far the best solution. Check out the latest prices on our top-rated AV packages below.

Ian has been a journalist for 20 years. He's written for magazines and websites on subjects such as video games, technology, PC hardware, popular (and unpopular) science, gardening and astronomy. In his spare time he has a pet tortoise and grows his own vegetables. He also has a passion for cameras and photography, and has written for TTR on these subjects.