Ten Signs Your PC Is Infected

We often get surprised looks from customers when we tell them their computers were infected after they've brought them in for a tune up. A common misconception is you will always 'know' you have a virus because of something on your screen. While some do lock you out of your system and put up screens, many are 'silent', sitting deep in your computer capturing every keystroke or using your computer for criminal purposes. So here are ten signs your computer MAY be infected:

10) The system is slower than normal. Many factors can affect a computer's performance, but a virus infection will often gobble up processing power and memory. It may also be that your computer needs more memory.

9) Your anti-virus icon has disappeared or indicates the protection is off or disabled (and you can't get it turned back on). Or it can't seem to get new 'updates'. The first thing viruses often do is try to disable/break the installed AV software. A similar sign is Windows Updates no longer install.

8) You can't start the task manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del). You'll often get an error instead of the list of running processes. This helps protect a virus from technicians looking for suspect processes.

7) You notice a lot of network traffic when you aren't using your computer. Look at the router LED for your LAN connection. The WAN/Internet LED will often flash even with your computer turned off, but watch the WiFi and LAN LEDs. If they seem to ALWAYS be flashing – this can be a sign of virus activity. It can also be updates downloading, email accounts being checked, etc. But this tends to be sporadic. But non stop rapid network traffic for extended periods of time are a red flag for virus activity.

6) Random web pages pop up or when you enter a website, you're sometimes taken someplace else. Viruses can often make money for their authors by directing infected users to sites that pay for referred visits. Similarly – your search engine has changed. If you normally hit Google or Bing when you search in your browser, then suddenly end up with results from someplace else – this can be spyware or a virus.

5) You cannot run any programs (except maybe Internet Explorer). This is a sure sign.

4) All your icons disappear or your background suddenly changes or goes black.

3) You cannot get onto the Internet any more. Or you can only get certain places. This can sometimes be a problem with your router or ISP, but often viruses try to intercept all your network traffic and if they fail – you can't get online.

2) Your hard drive has a lot less space. Most users use, on average, 50-75GB of space. If you suddenly see your hard drive using up hundreds of GB and you haven't put a ton of videos on it – a virus may be using your computer to serve pirated/illegal material.

1) Computer utilities suddenly 'appear' on your desktop with names like HDD Checker or a program that sounds like an antivirus. Many infections try to disguise themselves as legitimate programs.

If your computer has any of these symptoms, you should have it checked out. The worst virus is the one you don't know about that is tracking everything you do and type. IT Xpress runs many different virus scans on systems we clean to ensure nothing gets missed.

Share with your friends and if you have other curious symptoms, let us know in the comments!

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