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Have any of these computer virus symptoms?

If you find yourself wondering if your computer has a virus, you’re not alone. From major data breaches at companies like Yahoo and Target, to rises in identity theft, millions of folks are affected by malicious software.

And, from my work with my PC repair clients, what’s also clear is that most folks can’t recognize when they’re infected.

This article covers 14 common computer virus symptoms you should be on the lookout for.

1. Your computer is suddenly slow

A telltale sign that you’ve got a virus is if your computer’s speed suddenly tanks. It likely means that there’s some malicious stuff running in the background, eating up your computer’s resources.

2. Popups

One of the most obvious symptoms of a virus infection is annoying popups. They can crop up without warning, at random, and can be difficult to close.

It’s especially important to watch out for popups when you’re not inside a browser. Innocent popups can happen when you’re in a browser, but popups on your desktop are cause for concern.

3. Strange start page in your browser

When you first launch your browser, does a strange page show up? Strange pages include:

  • A site you didn’t set
  • A strange search engine

If this happens when you load your browser, there’s a good chance you’ve been infected.

Browser with a start page changed by malware

3b. Strange start page URL

Also, keep an eye on the URL of your home page. Some sites go out of their way to look “normal”, but you’ve actually been tricked into using malware.

If the URL (the link) in the bar isn’t a normal (e.g.,, or it’s blank), but looks something like, that’s malware at work.

Browser with a normal URL bar

The URL bar should look normal, like this!


Infected browser with a URL set by malware

If your URL bar looks like this, you might have malware

4. Strange toolbars in your browser

Check along the top edge of your browser, right above / below the spot where you enter URLs (links). Is there a toolbar there?

Top computer virus symptom! A browser toolbar you didn't install.

If you don’t specifically remember installing that toolbar, you’re likely infected.

5. Software won’t open

If a program you use regularly suddenly won’t launch, that’s a good sign that a virus is blocking it.

6. Software crashes regularly

Same deal if programs you use frequently suddenly start crashing all the time!

7. You can’t reboot your computer normally

Having trouble rebooting your computer normally? If you can only shut your machine down with a hard reboot (pressing and holding the power key until the machine shuts off), you might be infected.

8. There are programs running you didn’t install

Software shouldn’t just install itself on your machine. If it didn’t come with the computer, or you didn’t install it, something fishy is going on.

It is true that some programs sneak in other apps as part of their installations (looking at you Java, McAfee, CCleaner, etc.). And while I definitely think this practice is sketchy, they’re usually installing legit programs.

Excluding those cases, if there’s software on your computer that you don’t recognize, you could have a virus.

9. You’re asked to pay to unlock your computer

This is one of the most definitive computer virus symptoms on this list, by far.

Microsoft, Apple, or other tech companies will never, never, never, ask you for money in exchange for unlocking your computer. If your computer is being held hostage, something is wrong.

If this is happening to you, you need to stop what you’re doing right now and work on removing the virus!

10. Strange startup items

Do strange things happen right after you boot to your desktop? This is a virus symptom, for sure!

Also, if you’re on Windows, check your notification area. Expand it by clicking the up triangle in the bottom-right corner of the screen:

Windows notification area

Are there a ton of programs there?

Try hovering over them until their name shows up.

Hovering over an icon in the Windows notification area to see its name

You can’t see it in the screenshot, but my mouse is hovering over the icon in the top-right corner.

Is there anything you don’t recognize?

Strange stuff here is a good sign your machine is infected.

11. Slow(er than normal) boot

If your computer suddenly takes forever to start up, you could have a virus.

It’s worth noting that, in this case, suddenly is an important word. If your computer has slowed down over time, that may just be normal aging. Or, your machine might need a tune-up.

12. Your computer freezes

Another computer virus symptom is system freezes / crashes. If your machine locks up regularly, it suggests a virus is at work.

13. Your security tools get disabled

If you’re getting alerts warning you that your security tools are disabled, and you didn’t disable the tools yourself, it’s time to check for a virus.

14. Your intuition is nagging you

If that little voice in your head is ruminating about a computer infection, trust it. It can’t hurt to tune up your machine and zap those viruses in the process.

So, you think you’re infected. Now what?

Is your computer exhibiting one (or more) of these computer virus symptoms? It might be time to work on de-gunking your machine.

You might think that you have to pay an expensive tech to fix your machine. But wait! What if I told you that removing a computer virus is actually simpler than you thought?

Let’s start by getting Chrome back into tip-top shape!

Grab my free mini-kit: Cleaning Up Chrome

In this quick tutorial video, I’ll walk you through the essential steps for cleaning up Google Chrome.

Coming soon!

Try my Virus Removal Kit!

My Virus Removal Kit is for anyone who’d prefer to fix their computer themselves. Here are some of the key features:

  • Absolutely anyone can use this kit — zero tech skill required
  • You’ll spend less than 30 minutes learning the method
  • This method works. I’ve been using these steps in my PC Repair business since 2008.
  • Why pay an expensive tech? This kit will save you so much money!

If you’re ready to de-gunk your computer and get back to work in no time, grab my Virus Removal Kit now!

Coming soon!