If you are asking “What is a virus” then it is very important that you read through this article. There are some obvious symptoms that your computer will develop when it gets infected with a virus and to recognize these, you need to know what a virus is. But the first thing I have to mention is that if you had a decent antivirus program installed on your computer you would not have a problem. The virus programs now days are fantastic in crushing any chances of a viruses infecting your computer. There are many ways to protect your computer from viruses, however, knowing what a virus is should be your number one priority.
What is a virus?
What is a virus is a very important question! A virus is a small program that gets into your computer undetected in order to cause havoc. This small software program has either been developed because the author enjoys causing disasters for other people or sometimes for monetary gains. Sometimes a virus is packaged in a file that is called a trojan virus. It is disguised as something else, and once it has gained access to your computer it then releases its intent. Also see What’s the difference between a virus, spyware, Malware, and adware?
Here are some more technical definitions relating to what is a virus from other websites:
Wikipedia – what is a virus?
Microsoft – what is a computer virus?
What is a virus and how does it get onto my computer?
The people that develop these viruses are constantly finding new ways to infiltrate your computer. When one door shuts, another one opens for them. However the most common ways to get a virus on your computer is through the internet. You might download a file that contains a virus, or maybe you might open an email that has one attached to it. Sometimes even visiting a bad website can infect your computer. The worst one of all, however, is when people download illegal cracked software. This software has usually been taken apart and repackaged with a few extras attached. Maybe you download music or videos from the internet. How do you know you are actually downloading the file you intended to. The file may be named to deceive you, and once you open it you will release the virus.
Another common way to get a virus is to see software appear on your screen that is posing as an antivirus program. The minute you press the cross button to close the program or even the scan button, because it is telling you to scan for viruses, you are immediately infected by this virus. If you see a program come up on your screen that you know you did not install, the best way to shut it down is to open up task manager and end the process.
How do I know if I have a virus or not?
If your computer has been infected with a virus you will quickly see odd signs that it exists. Weird things start happening that you cannot explain. Files might move around, odd error messages may appear, programs might start to fail. For example if your virus scanner program stops working then it could have been disabled by a virus. With all this action taking place in the background your computer will also start to run slow and seem like it is busy all the time.
When browsing the internet you might find that you will not able to visits the pages that you choose. You will be redirected to different websites. You computer might also be sending emails to everyone in your contact list without you knowing.
What can a virus do to my computer hardware components?
People think that a virus simply attacks the file systems of your computer, however this is not true. Some viruses are designed to damaged computer hardware components until they are ruined completely.
Many people will argue that a virus only infects software, however all hardware is controlled by various types of software. Infact the entire computer is controlled by BIOS which is software. BIOS controls the temperature of the motherboard. What if a viruses only purpose was to change the temperature control on your motherboard. The motherboard would overheat and fry itself.
In the old days viruses used to be developed to set the read speed of a floppy disk drive to speeds beyond its capability. The Floppy disk drive would overheat and fry from being overworked. Now days Windows Vista has a service called Superfetch that searches your hard drive, finds out what you use the most, and makes it available for you.. If you made a virus to control Superfetch, we could have a serious problem. Most Vista users already have Superfetch disabled on their computer. A virus could enable it, tell it all files are important, keep it searching non stop, and fry your hard drive that way. Now I can here someone saying “yeah right, not with all the security we have around today”. Well you should never underestimate these guys who develop viruses. They can work around anything.
What should I do if I get a virus?
If you suspect that your computer has a virus, scan your computer asap with an antivirus program. If you do not have one or yours is not working, download another one, or get a free scan using the free online virus scanners.
Here is a list of free online virus scanners.
Symantec Security Check, McAfee FreeScan, Panda ActiveScan, Trend Micro, Kaspersky lab, bitdefender, and there are so many more. There is no guarantee that these free scanners will cure your computer but they might just confirm the fact that you actually have a virus.
If you find viruses but cannot remove them you will need to take your computer to a professional before you lose everything. Another option is to format your computer which means you loose all the files on it and re-install a fresh copy of the operating system. You can backup your files first, but please be aware that they might be infected with a virus also.
If you have scanned your computer, found viruses, and successfully deleted them, then now is the time to buy a decent program that will stop this from happening again. See my review of the best Virus Removal Software.
Do not continue to use the computer without taking action because the longer you leave it the further the virus can spread.
What is a virus? What file types commonly contain viruses?
Lets face it, downloading is a dangerous business, especially when you have important files stored on your computer. Any file you download can contain a virus. My rule for downloading is to ask myself “Do I know and trust this website I am about to download from?”
Here are a few examples of common files that could contain viruses:
EXE FILE: If you download a program or anything that requires an install file then it will be an .exe file. When you press on it to install to your computer you could be releasing a virus.
ZIP FILE: People download zip files from the internet that contain any other file type and you will not see it’s contents until you open it. A zip file might have an exe file in it.
SCR FILE: Free screensavers for your computer. They always have something bad in them. Sometimes adware or viruses.
DOC FILE: A Microsoft word document can contain macros and small scripts that are viruses.
If you haven’t got antivirus software installed on your computer you should try Avast. It also takes care of spyware, malware, etc and it is fantastic! You do not have to worry about setting it up because it just stops all problems for you and you will never know it is working away in the background.
Notes on what is a virus:
- There is a lot of confusion about actually “what is a virus” because there are so many different types of viruses out there.
- Most, if not all websites on the Internet agree that a virus is a small piece of software that invade your computer.
I hope you are not still asking “what is a virus” as this can be a very dangerous question.