I think my computer has a virus


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I think my computer has a virus

Man stands next to his window in the house while looking at his tablet

What's coming up

If your computer starts acting strangely, it may have contracted a virus from a file you've downloaded, either through a website or an email.

In this activity, we're going to look at the process of identifying and dealing with a virus.

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Signs of a computer virus

How do you know you're computer has a virus? There are some common signs to look for:

  • a message on the screen says that files have been locked and you need to pay to unlock them
  • some programs won't start
  • websites open when you don't want them to
  • ads popup and cover your computer screen
  • your computer runs very slowly

Not all of these are certain signs of a virus. But you can still check by running a virus scan. Well look at this in the next panel.

Pop up window showing a virus has been detected
An example of an anti virus scanner window

Step 1 - run a virus scan

If you think that you may have a virus, the first thing you can do is run a virus scan.

Make sure you have antivirus software, and use it to run a scan of your computer. Unless the virus is very new, the software should be able to detect and remove it.

Running a virus scan

Mary is worried that she has contracted a virus on her computer. She is going to do a scan of her computer using an antivirus program from the internet.

Click Continue to watch the video on the next screen.

Step 2 - call the antivirus help line

If you subscribe to an antivirus software program, the subscription may include phone support. (You should check when you subscribe, and make a note of the phone number.)

Call the antivirus software company’s help line, and they may be able to walk you through a remedy.

A phone icon with the text 1800 HELP
A laptop screen with tool symbols on it representing tech support

Step 3 - call computer support

If you don't subscribe to an antivirus program, you may have to call in help. If you have a computer-savvy relative, they can be a good first point of call.

Otherwise you might have to contact a computer help service to help fix the problem. There are thousands of such services all across the country, and a search of the internet or of the phone book should find one near you.


Well done, you've reached the end of the I think my computer has a virus activity.

Viruses can be tricky, especially because it's not always clear that you have one. But if you think there's a problem with your computer, and you think a virus might be the cause, there are clear steps you can take to check:

  • running an antivirus scan
  • calling a hotline
  • calling technical support.

In the next activity, I think somebody has access to my passwords, we look at what to do if you think your password has been stolen.

A couple look at their computer screen while enjoying a cup of tea at home