How to delete viruses from PC without formating

Who I am
Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
Author and references

Preliminary information


Before even moving on to practice and understeing how to delete virus from PC without formating, let me give you a couple more information on this topic. The threats, nowadays, go far beyond the so-called virus: although the latter remain the cause of most computer malfunctions, there are other malicious programs that tend to undermine the correct functioning of the operating system and of the entire PC application park.



These include, for example, the spyware, that is small software able to send personal data to cybercriminals, or, again, the adware, that is, programs that display advertisements (or even install advertising software) in an unpredictable and completely reom way. Initially, the term antivirus referred only to programs capable of detecting and eradicating viruses, while the term antimalware it was mostly used to mean software aimed at protecting other types of threats, such as spyware and adware.

Today, however, this differentiation is less and less used: antivirus are able to detect and eliminate other types of malware, while antimalware can also identify and destroy viruses. Consequently, to date, the words "antivirus" and "antimalware" are used almost as if they were synonymous, with very few exceptions.

Also, I would like to point out a couple of related to the use of such antivirus. As for the programs that are installed within the operating system, I would like to advise you to do not use two different solutions at the same time: the functioning of one could influence, and not a little, the correct execution of the other, giving rise to unforeseen situations e, at times, even to some false positives.


As regards, however, the use of antivirus that can intervene on infected system files, I invite you to be very careful about the operations to be undertaken: deleting or moving to quarantine of such files, can make the system unusable operational e force to reset or format your computer anyway. Always proceed with this in mind.

Having made these necessary premises, we can finally get to the heart of the matter: below I will show you the most effective solutions to get rid of viruses (e malware in general) both from within your operating system, and from a CD or a USB stick. .


Windows Defender (Windows)

Windows Defender is an integrated antivirus solution "steard" in Windows: in fact, it is a perpetually running program that can perform, in addition to continuous system monitoring, also cleaning operations on virus-infected files and folders.

Run a virus scan with Windows Defender, su Windows 10, it's very simple: first, open the menu Start/Start Screen by clicking on the icon in the shape of pennant located at the bottom left, presses the button (I.e. placed inside, then presses the button Update and security and select the item Windows security.



At this point, click on the itemVirus and threat protection, then on the link Run a new advanced analysis attached to the window that appears on the screen, put the check mark next to the item Comprehensive analysis and pulsing on pulsating Start analysis to immediately start the investigation procedure and any cleaning of infected files. At the end of the analysis, Defender shows a summary window with any threats detected and any operations undertaken (or to be undertaken) on the files involved.

If you feel you need to investigate files outside the operating system, you can use theAnalisi di Windows Defender Offline: in this way, it is possible to find the most insidious malware possibly hidden in the system files and remove them from the PC using the latest definitions downloaded. This type of analysis requires an automatic restart of the computer and generally takes about 15 minutes.

It was used Windows 8.x, to invoke the Windows Defender management window, you need to go to the menu Start/Start Screen e type the word in the dedicated search bar Defender, then click on the first proposed reont. The rest of the procedure to follow is almost identical to the one seen together for Windows 10. If, for some reason, the antivirus was disabled on your computer, I invite you to refer to my guide on how to activate Windows Defender to solve the problem.


Avira Free Security (Windows/macOS)

If you are looking for a simple and immediate solution thanks to which to eliminate viruses from your computer without formating it, but also to optimize the system and protect your online privacy, I can only advise you. Avira Free Security.

The Free Security Suite by Avira, a historic signature in the IT security sector, brings together in a single software package everything that can be used to better enjoy your digital life: a real-time protection system against viruses, ransomware and other malware (recognized as one of the best ever even by the well-known antivirus comparator AV Comparatives); a VPN to browse online anonymously, disguise your geographical position and protect yourself on public Wi-Fi networks (with 500MB of free traffic per month); a secure browser and many tools forPC optimization.

Everything is offered through an extremely intuitive user interface without advertising banners and - perhaps more importantly - without selling user data or sharing it with third parties (e.g. state bodies, Big Tech or advertising networks).

Avira Free Security is free and has no expiration date; however, to access the complete set of tools agolable within it, you must subscribe to one of the paid plans among those agolable: Internet Security (starting from 6,95 euros / month or 64,95 euros / year, for 5 devices), Premium (starting at € 9,95 / month or € 99,95 / year, for 5 devices) or Prime Family (starting at € 12,95 / month or € 129,95 / year, for 25 devices).

To download Avira Free Security on your PC, connected to the official website of the program and click on the button Download now. Then open the file .exe you got and click the button first Yes and then Accept and install. Avira will position itself in the lower right corner of the screen and will download and install all the components necessary for its operation from the Internet.

At the end of the setup, choose whether or not to run one Smart scanning of the system (I recommend yes) and you will thus be able to obtain a complete report about privacy issues, performance, virus, app obsolete and network threats possibly present on the PC. Then click on the button Fix problems, to correct everything, or on Show details, to choose the individual problems on which to act. Please note that the free version of Smart Scan only deletes unnecessary files and registry entries.

For the rest, you will find all the functions of Avira Free in the tabs located on the left. For example, the card State contains a general overview of the system status (security, privacy and performance) and allows you to perform Smart scans while that Safety contains buttons to start a new virus scan, adjust protection options (the free version of Avira only allows you to activate real-time protection against viruses, ransomware and other malware), manage the firewall and check for updates for installed programs (via the Software Updater tool).

The board Privacyinstead, it contains the tools for web protection (the Avira Safe Shopping browser extension, useful for protecting yourself from fraudulent sites and wild tracking), the VPN, the password manager, the Shredder (to delete files safely), the tool to adjust system privacy settings and a secure browser link Opera with already integrated Safe Shopping extensions, Avira VPN and Avira password manager. The board Performancesfinally, it allows you to access the utility Avira System Speedup for system optimization that allows you to free up disk space, speed up your PC, optimize battery use, update drivers, search for duplicate files and run a series of advanced tools to optimize startup and much more.

Some of the tools included in Avira System Speedup are only agolable in the paid versions of Avira. 

Bitdefender Free (Windows / macOS)

If you want to take into account the value for money, among the best solutions to clean your computer from viruses and malware there is certainly also Bitdefender: it is a program that has a relatively low impact on system memory, an extremely intuitive interface and one of the highest threat detection rates ever.

Bitdefender is agolable in two versions for both Windows that for MacOS: the first is free and includes all the basic functions to protect the system (on Mac, however, it does not have the real-time protection module); the second is paid and offers advanced features, such as a VPN, password manager, and secure browsing with payment protection.

How do you say? Don't want to spend a single cent? Don't worry: for the purposes of this guide, the free version of the program is more than enough: the only requirement to use it is to simply register for the Bitdefender service, as I'll show you shortly.

To install Bitdefender Free on Windows, first connect to the program's website and click on the button Download it for free to immediately start the download of the setup file (eg. bitdefender_online.exe). Once this is done, launch the file you just downloaded, press the button Yes to start the installation procedure, wait for the download of the necessary files to complete, put the check mark next to the item By clicking Install you agree with the Subscription Agreement Privacy Policy, remove the check mark from the box Send anonymous usage report to avoid sending anonymous statistics on the use of the program e, finally, presses the button install to start the initial scan process and finalize the program setup.

For MacOSinstead, you can download Bitdefender Virus Scanner directly from Mac app Store, which can be called up via the icon in the shape of A placed in the bar Dock (or by clicking on this link if you are reading my guide from the Mac you intend to analyze).

Once the program is installed, you can call it from its icon created on the Windows desktop or from the folder Applications Mac. Now, if you use the Microsoft operating system, press the button Sign in to Bitdefender to quickly create a Bitdefender account, fill in the proposed form with the required information (nameemail address e Password), put the check mark next to the item I accept Terms of service and then presses the button Create.

The game is practically done: press the button System scan to start a scan immediately, and to view real-time scan details, double-click on the progress percentage (eg. System scan in progress 3%). At the end of the analysis, Bitdefender will show a summary window containing the threats detected and any actions taken to eliminate them. If any steps are not clear to you, try to conont my guide on how Bitdefender Free works.

If you are using a Mac, instead, click on the button end to access the main Bitdefender window, click on the button Check for critical paths, metti il ​​segno di spunta accanto alla voce More protection and click on the button Allow access. Then select the icon Macintosh HDclick on your button Allow access to allow the antivirus to access all folders on the Mac and wait for the computer scan to complete.

The software will detect both macOS and Windows threats (which have no adverse effects on the Mac, however). In fact, given the low spread of viruses on macOS, you could also avoid installing an antivirus like Bitdefender and turn to specific solutions for Mac malware

Comodo Rescue Disk

Wait, are you telling me that the solutions shown above are not for you, since your problem is much more serious than it seems and viruses are well hidden among the files in use by the operating system? Then Comodo Rescue Disk is the solution for you: in very simple terms, it is a variant of Comodo Antivirus that can be loaded on a CD or on one USB pendrive e performed, after booting from one of these two media, "outside" the installed operating system, so as to be able to analyze the files in complete freedom and flush out all the malware hidden on all the disks installed in the computer.

To proceed, first connect to the Comodo Rescue Disk web page and click on the button free Download to download the file immediately (eg. comodo_rescue_disk_xy.iso) on the computer. Once this is done, you can burn the ISO you just downloaded to a CD or create a bootable USB stick from it: if you don't know how to do it, I suggest you conont my guides on how to burn ISO files or how to create a bootable USB stick. , depending on your choice.

In any case, once you have created the most suitable bootable media, insert it into your computer, restart the machine by accessing the configuration screen BIOS / UEFI (you can do this by following my instructions on this) and set the CD player or the USB port, always based on the choice you made previously. If you need help completing this procedure, I recommend that you take a look at my guide on how to set up the BIOS for further help on this.

If everything went well, at the next reboot Comodo Rescue Disk will be loaded and its home screen will be shown: then press the button Accept to accept the license terms, wait a few seconds for the system to start completely and press the icon without hesitation Full Scan to download the latest malware definitions, if Internet connection is agolable, and then perform a full scan of all disks installed on your computer.

At the end of the scan, Comodo will show a summary window containing any threats detected, the actions taken e, if necessary, the request for action to be taken in the case of particularly delicate files (generally, it is possible to clean the files, move them to quarantine or eliminate them completely). Be careful at this stage, since, by deleting files essential to the installed operating system, this could later fail to boot and force you to restore or format your entire computer.

If, at any time, you need to surf the Internet, configure the network or perform any other type of basic operation, you can make use of the integrated tools (e.g. the browser Midori) accessible through the menu Applications, located in the upper left corner of the screen. When you have finished using Comodo, all you have to do is go to menu Applications > Logout, click on the button Reboot System and disconnect the CD / USB stick from the computer immediately after reboot.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

If Comodo Rescue Disk did not fully meet your expectations, you can turn to a very similar solution offered instead by Kaspersky: exactly like the solution seen above, too Kaspersky Rescue Disk works “outside” of the operating system installed on the computer, it can be started from CDUSB pendrive and offers a series of tools useful for analyzing and detecting viruses and malware inside disks (e, above all, system files).

Unlike Comodo, however, Kaspersky offers a much simpler, more intuitive and accurate interface, which can also be used by those who are new to the computer world; on the other he, however, Kaspersky Rescue Disk is much larger than Comodo: it measures more 550 MB, about 10 times more than the previous solution!

How do you say? Isn't the weight of the software a problem? Perfect, then let's get to work immediately: first, connect to the Kaspersky Rescue Disk website, close the initial window relating to the request for feedback and press the button Download Now to immediately download the image file (eg. krd.iso).

Once this operation is complete, burn the image to CD or transfer it to a USB key using the methods indicated in the previous section, connect the created media to the computer, set the boot from CD / USB, wait for the message to appear on the screen Press ESC to load Kaspersky Rescue Disk and press the button ESC of the keyboard within five seconds of its appearance.

Once this is done, on the next screen, select the item English and presses the button Submit on the keyboard, choose the voice Kaspersky Rescue Disk. Graphic Mode, press the button again Submit e wait for the operating system hosting the antivirus to be fully loaded into memory.

Once this phase is completed, if everything went well, the complete antivirus interface is displayed on the screen: first, put the check mark next to both boxes shown in the initial window, press the button Accept to accept the license terms, wait a few seconds for the Kaspersky engine to initialize.

At this point, to start a full system scan, press the button Start Scan; if, on the other he, you want to select only certain disks or add external volumes to the scan, press the item Change Parameters and put the check mark next to the disks / folders to be analyzed (or click on Add Object… to add new elements), and then press the button Start Scan. At any time during the scan, you can access the files moved to quarantine or the temporary summary of threats by pressing, respectively, the buttons Report located at the top right.

At the end of the scan, Kaspersky will show a summary screen with the threats detected, the actions taken or any requests about the operations to be carried out: in general, it is usually possible to clean up the files (chub), move them to quarantine (quarantine) or delete them (delete).

If you need it, you can access the contents of the disks installed on your computer at any time by clicking on the button Volumes, browse the Internet by clicking on the icon Firefox or take advantage of the tools offered by Kaspersky (terminal emulator, screenshot, file manager, etc.) by accessing the main menu of the system via the button in the shape of a K located at the bottom left.

When you have finished using Kaspersky, all you have to do is restart your computer by clicking on menu K > Leave > Restart.

How to defend against viruses

If you have reached this point, it means that you have mastered the methods for delete virus from PC without formating and that you have managed to achieve the goal you set yourself at the beginning of this guide. Before you finally leave, however, let me give you some tips so that you don't have to find yourself in this uncomfortable situation again.

  • Do not disable system protections - Windows and macOS operating systems use built-in protection systems - respectively, the filter SmartScreen and the tool GateKeeper - to prevent the execution of potentially harmful programs. Always keep these tools active, even if, in practice, they may cost you a few more clicks.
  • Install resident security software - especially on Windows, it's important to make sure your system is protected and threats are tracked down before they even run. Therefore, I recommend that you rely on an antivirus solution that can protect the operating system: in this regard, I invite you to take a look at my guides to the best antivirus for Windows and the best antivirus for Mac.
  • Always run trusted software - download and install only programs from certified sources, such as the Microsoft Store and the Mac App Store, and carefully avoid the execution of pirated software: the latter is a practically boundless vector of viruses, spyware and threats in general.
  • Beware of "bundled" software - Numerous free programs carry unwanted programs or spyware with them in order to profit from installations completed by users. Always pay attention to the messages proposed during the installation of the programs e, above all, to the check marks set: where possible avoid the installation of sponsored software, toolbars and other similar junk programs.
  • Use common sense - Viruses and malware cannot be transmitted only through the installation of an infected program: simply open a harmful email attachment, insert an infected USB / microSD key into your computer, connect an untrusted device or perform a thouse other "risky" moves to end up with some rather unwelcome surprises. In this sense, try to use the greatest degree of prudence possible: do not connect to the computer devices of people you do not know, do not open attachments whose origin you do not know e, above all, always keep your antivirus software up to date. You will see, the computer will thank you!

Article produced in collaboration with Avira.



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