Anti-Virus Help

Anti-Virus Help

Find answers to common virus questions.

What is a Virus or Worm?
 
How Does My Computer Get a Virus or Worm?
 
How Do I Know if My Computer is Infected with a Virus/Worm?
 
What is Anti-Virus Software?
 
What Can I Do to Prevent Viruses/Worms from Infecting My System?
 
What Should I Do if My Computer has a Virus or Worm?
 
How Do I Know if I Have an Anti-virus Solution Installed on My Computer?
 
How Do I Update My Anti-Virus Software?
 
How Do I Scan My System for Viruses?
 
Helpful Links

 
What is a Virus or Worm?

Viruses, worms, and trojan horses are all different types of harmful programs that are sometimes collectively referred to as "malware" (malicious software). If they get onto your computer and “infect” it, they can cause a variety of problems such as the loss of your data or files and the corruption of your installed software programs so they do not work properly anymore.

Viruses hide themselves in other files, which often makes them impossible to detect just by looking at the file itself. Because of this, you need anti-virus software to detect viruses (see "What is Anti-Virus Software?" section).

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How Does My Computer Get a Virus or Worm?

Two of the most common ways viruses and worms get onto your computer are when files are copied to your computer from e-mail attachments and peer-to-peer file sharing networks or when a worm exploits a vulnerability in your operating system because it is not updated with the latest Windows Update patches.

  • Malware Received from Copied Files - Every time you copy a file to your computer you can potentially get a virus or worm. Since the Internet makes it very easy to copy files from one computer to another, viruses have spread more easily as the Internet has become more popular. Most viruses or worms get on your computer from e-mail attachments. Whenever you open an e-mail attachment, you are basically copying the attachment to your computer first and then opening it, which makes it an easy way to spread viruses. Even if you trust the source of the e-mail, they may not know the file they are sending you is infected. Anytime you download a file (for example by using peer-to-peer file sharing programs), the downloaded file can contain malware.
     
  • Malware Received Due to an “Unpatched” Windows Operating System  - If your computer is connected to the Internet and does not have all of the latest updates for your Windows operating system installed, it can be vulnerable to worms without even downloading anything. That is why having your Windows Automatic Updates turned on is so important. Click here for more information on enabling Automatic Updates in Microsoft Windows XP.
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How Do I Know if My Computer is Infected with a Virus/Worm?

The symptoms of viruses/worms are not consistent so it can be hard to tell if you are infected. Some of the following symptoms may (but do not always) indicate you have a virus:
  • Your system suddenly runs much slower
  • Your system crashes or locks up often
  • Your system restarts often without any interaction
  • You see strange error messages or pop-up boxes
The only sure way to tell if your computer is infected, is to run a virus scan of your computer using an up-to-date anti-virus program (see “What is Anti-Virus Software?” section below). It’s very important to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date since new viruses are discovered daily.

Click here for more information on updating your anti-virus program.

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What is Anti-Virus Software?

Anti-virus software is a program that runs on your system that looks for viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. It can prevent them from getting onto your computer, and it can also remove them if they are already there. Anti-virus programs use lists of known viruses to find them on your system. Since new viruses are found daily, it is very important that the anti-virus software has its virus list updated frequently so it can detect the latest viruses. Most anti-virus programs require you to subscribe to receive their up-to-date virus lists. If you have an anti-virus program installed but it is not up-to-date, your system is vulnerable to all new viruses that are in the wild.

Click here to find out if you have an anti-virus program installed on your computer.

Click here if you have an anti-virus program on your system and would like instructions on how to scan your computer

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What Can I Do to Prevent Viruses/Worms from Infecting My System?

The best way to prevent viruses is to have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your system. The anti-virus software can automatically detect the virus and delete it if you have allowed the anti-virus software to run in auto-protect mode. This means that the anti-virus software will automatically scan when you download, open, or install files. In addition to having updated anti-virus software, you can also prevent viruses from infecting your computer by using caution when viewing e-mail attachments or downloading files from the Internet. Only view attachments from people you trust and only download programs from reputable sources.

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What Should I Do if My Computer has a Virus or Worm?

Anti-virus software will also assist you in the removal of the virus from your system. In the case of a bad infection, you may need to download a special removal tool that is usually provided by your anti-virus software provider.

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How Do I Know if I Have an Anti-virus Solution Installed on My Computer?

1. First, check to see if you already have an anti-virus application on your computer. Help Me Check

Click here for additional help finding anti-virus software installed on your computer.

Click here for help finding installed anti-virus software that did not come with your Dell computer.

2. If you do not have a subscription to a McAfee, Symantec, or Trend Micro anti-virus application, or you are running a limited time trial anti-virus application, your best option is to upgrade your current security software. Dell recommends the following applications:

McAfee
Symantec (Norton)
Trend Micro PC-cillin

3. If you are running an anti-virus application other than McAfee, Symantec, or Trend Micro but you do not have a subscription, your best option is to upgrade your current security software by visiting the website of the software manufacturer of the application you're running. If you prefer, you may purchase a security solution from Dell's Electronics & Accessories website. Dell recommends the following applications:

McAfee Upgrade
Symantec (Norton) Upgrade
Trend Micro PC-cillin Upgrade

Note: Do not run more than one anti-virus program at the same time. If you want to try a new anti-virus program, un-install your current program first. Click here for more information on uninstalling software programs.

4. If you do not have an anti-virus solution on your system at all, Dell recommends the following applications:

McAfee - Internet Security Suite
Norton Internet Security
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security
 
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How Do I Update My Anti-Virus Software?

Running the update service every couple days will ensure that your computer will detect the most recent viruses and install any program updates that may be available.

McAfee
Symantec (Norton)
Trend Micro
 
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How Do I Scan My System for Viruses?

For information on scanning for viruses, click on your specific anti-virus software below.

McAfee
Symantec (Norton)
Trend Micro
 
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Helpful Links

Dell Tech Support Frequently Asked Questions – “FAQ’s”
Dell Technical Support Site
Virus Information from Microsoft External link
McAfee Technical Support Site External link
Symantec (Norton) Technical Support Site External link
Trend Micro Technical Support Site External link
 
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