Whether you think you might have a virus on your computer or devices, or just want to keep them running smoothly, it’s easy to do a virus scan. How to check for viruses depends on the software and device you have, so we’ll go through everything you need to know to run a scan effectively and keep your computers, phones and tablets in tip-top shape.
Do You Need a Virus Scan?
First, let’s cover a few of the telltale signs your device might have a virus. Is your computer or device acting sluggish or having a hard time booting up? Have you noticed missing files or a lack of storage space? Have you noticed emails or messages sent from your account that you did not write? Perhaps you’ve noticed changes to your browser homepage or settings? Or maybe, you’re seeing unexpected pop-up windows, or experiencing crashes and other program errors. These are all examples of signs that you may have a virus, but don’t get too worried yet, because many of these issues can be resolved with a virus scan.
What Does a Virus Scan Do?
Each antivirus program works a little differently, but in general the software will look for known malware that meets a specific set of characteristics. It may also look for variants of these known threats that have a similar code base. Some antivirus software even checks for suspicious behavior. If the software comes across a dangerous program or piece of code, it removes it. In some cases, a dangerous program can be replaced with a clean one from the manufacturer.
How to Check for Viruses
The process of checking for viruses depends on the device type and its operating system. Check out these tips to help you scan your computers, phones and tablets.
On a Windows computer
If you use Windows 10, go into “Settings” and look for the “Updates & Security” tab. From there you can locate a “Scan Now” button.
Of course, many people have invested in more robust antivirus software that has a high accuracy rate and causes less drain on their system resources, such as McAfee Total Protection. To learn how to run a virus scan using your particular antivirus software, search the software’s help menu or look online for instructions.
On a Mac computer
Mac computers don’t have a built-in antivirus program, so you will have to download security software to do a virus scan. There are some free antivirus applications available online, but we recommend investing in trusted software that can protect you from a variety of threats. Downloading free software and free online virus scans can be risky, since cybercriminals know that this is a good way to spread malware.
Whichever program you choose, follow their step-by-step instructions on how to perform a virus scan, either by searching under “help” or looking it up on their website.
On smartphones and tablets
Yes, you can get a virus on your phone or tablet, although they are less common than on computers. However, the wider category of mobile malware is on the rise and your device can get infected if you download a risky app, click on an attachment in a text message, visit a dangerous webpage, or connect to another device that has malware on it.
Fortunately, you can protect your devices with mobile security software. It doesn’t usually come installed, so you will have to download an application and follow the instructions.
Because the Android platform is an open operating system, there are a number of antivirus products for Android devices, that allows you to do a virus scan.
Apple devices are a little different because they have a closed operating system that doesn’t allow third parties to see their code. Although Apple has taken other security precautions to reduce malware risks, such as only allowing the installation of apps from Apple’s official app store, these measures aren’t the same as an antivirus program.
For more robust protection on your Apple devices, you can install mobile security software to protect the private data you have stored on your phone or tablet, such as contacts, photos and messages.
If safeguarding all your computers and devices individually sounds overwhelming, you can opt for a comprehensive security product that protects computers, smartphones and tablets from a central control center, making virus prevention a breeze.
Why are virus scans so important?
New online threats emerge every day, putting our personal information, money and devices at risk. In the first quarter of 2019 alone McAfee detected 504 new threats per minute, as cybercriminals employed new tactics. That’s why it is essential to stay ahead of these threats by using security software that is constantly monitoring and checking for new known threats, while safeguarding all of your sensitive information. Virus scans are an essential part of this process when it comes to identifying and removing dangerous code.
How often should you run a virus scan?
Most antivirus products are regularly scanning your computer or device in the background, so you will only need to start a manual scan if you notice something suspicious, like crashes or excessive pop-ups. You can also program regular scans on your schedule.
Of course, the best protection is to avoid getting infected in the first place. Here are a few smart tips to sidestep viruses and other malware:
- Learn how to surf safely so you can avoid risky websites, links and messages. This will go a long way in keeping you virus-free.
- Never click on spammy emails or text messages. These include unsolicited advertisements and messages from people or companies you don’t know.
- Keep the software on your computers and devices up to date. This way you are protected from known threats, such as viruses and other types of malware.
- Invest in comprehensive security software that can protect all of your devices, such as McAfee LiveSafe.
- Stay informed on the latest threats, so you know what to look out for. The more you know about the latest scams, the easier they will be to spot and avoid.