With 300,000+ pieces of malware hitting daily, to say nothing of viruses and ad software, it’s shocking any computer escapes unscathed. At the very least, it’s a powerful argument to keep your anti-virus software updated.
Unfortunately, not all computer viruses prove as obvious as ransomware. At least the demand for money to unlock your files immediately alerts you to the problem.
The good news is that computers often do show signs that they’re harboring a virus. You just need the information to spot those signs when they rear their heads. So keep reading and learn 8 signs your computer has a virus.
1. Computer Slowdown
All computers slow down as they age. The hardware gets less efficient or years of updates and downloads clog up the works. This slowdown happens incrementally and only becomes obvious when you use a newer computer.
A computer virus will also slow a computer, but it’s rarely incremental. You typically see an abrupt slowdown in performance. For example, launching a word processing program now takes forever when it used to happen in a few seconds.
If you see this type of abrupt loss in performance, there’s a good chance you picked up a virus.
2. Browser Homepage Changes
Most people set their browser homepage and never change it. It always opens on a news page or your email service. That makes your browser homepage an excellent litmus test for viruses.
Since you must alter your homepage intentionally, any abrupt change almost always signals a virus is on your computer. The upshot is that redirect viruses mostly prove annoying rather than dangerous. They redirect your homepage so you’ll use a specific search engine and generate revenue.
3. Excessive Hard Drive Activity
Some kinds of programs put a lot of demand on your system’s hardware and software. You see it a lot in high-end audio and video editing, as well as with computer gaming.
There isn’t any need for concern if your hard drive makes a lot of noise during those activities. Sometimes, though, you’ll hear your hard drive making a lot of noise even if you’re not doing anything with the computer.
That noise indicates that some program is putting a lot of demands on the computer. It’s a solid sign that your computer is infected with a virus.
4. Constant Freezing or Crashing
You should expect the occasional computer freeze or crash. It happens more and more as your computer ages.
Memory errors or hardware glitches can trip a freeze or a crash. High-demand programs can also cause them if the program soaks up too many system resources.
Occasional is the key term to bear in mind. If your computer freezes or crashes every time you use it, that’s one of the signs your computer has a virus.
The virus interferes with some key activities in the operating system or hardware, which makes the system crash or freeze.
5. Odd Outgoing Emails
If you’re like most people, you spend most of your time looking at your email inbox. You check for messages from colleagues, family, or notices that a recent order shipped to you.
These days, though, you must also make a habit of checking your sent messages folder as well. More than a few viruses now spread by hijacking your email and emailing everyone on your contact list.
Since the email and inevitable attachment comes from a trusted source, the recipients will likely open the file. If you see outgoing emails with attachments that you didn’t send, you probably got a virus from somewhere.
6. Error Messages
Operating systems grow increasingly sophisticated with every new generation. That means they’ll often spot a problem long before it becomes obvious to you.
Most operating systems also come packed with self-correcting features and basic anti-virus features. Once the system runs through all of those options, it looks for a solution from the system admin: you.
The main way the computer communicates these problems is with error messages. If your computer starts lobbing lots of error messages at you, it’s a good sign of a virus.
Another sign of a virus is the same odd error message over and over again.
7. Security Software Disabled
Hackers understand that the biggest obstacle they face is the antivirus software on a computer. That’s why many viruses and malware start their attack on that very software.
You may discover that your security software simply doesn’t launch anymore. You may also discover that the antivirus software can’t update itself. Many viruses also interfere with your firewall functions.
Once the virus disables or cripples the security software, it can proceed with its core functions.
You should regularly launch your security software and make sure it functions and updates properly. If it doesn’t, assume a virus is at work.
8. Peripheral Hardware Problems
Most peripheral hardware like your mouse, keyboard, or monitor operates as plug-and-play devices. They install a tiny driver on the system or use a pre-installed driver. After that, they almost always work without any issues.
As with other types of problems, the errors with your peripheral devices will show up overnight. One day they work fine. The next day they behave in bizarre ways or won’t work at all.
Peripheral devices do fail sometimes, so you should always test them on another computer. You can lay the blame on a virus if your peripheral devices work fine on another computer.
Pay Attention to Signs Your Computer Has a Virus
There are many potential signs your computer has a virus.
Your computer may slow down abruptly. You may also see odd behaviors from your computer, like excessive hard drive activity or peripheral devices problems.
Watch out for unusual things like sent messages you don’t recall or your browser homepage changing. Pay special attention if your security software stops working or cannot update anymore.
If your computer starts throwing out numerous error messages or crashing all the time, odds are good that your system has a virus.