How To Tell If Your Computer Has a Virus

Many of us have had to deal with a computer virus at some point in our lives. They’re definitely not the most fun thing to deal with, and depending on how serious it is, you could potentially lose access to your computer!

What exactly is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a software program that needs a host to replicate and spread. It is typically acquired through downloading malicious files with the intent of spreading itself across various devices. Most viruses have similar traits: replicating, taking up power and space, and attaching to executable files.

Many people use “virus” and “malware” interchangeably. But they are not the same because “malware” is the umbrella term. To illustrate, a computer “virus” is classified as “malware” while a computer “worm”, which is not a virus, is also classified as “malware”.

Traits of a Virus

  • Replicating itself – this allows it to infect a greater part of your computer, in addition to other computers
  • Taking up power and space – this slows down computer startup and programs.
  • Attaching to executable files – these regular files that help your computer function will become corrupted and eventually cease running without the viruses help.
  • Hiding dormant in a file until triggered to execute its malicious code – they will often remain present without symptoms.
  • Using polymorphic code – this means the virus can change each time it infects a new host, causing it to become more difficult to catch with anti-virus software.
  • Requiring user action to spread – computer viruses can’t spread to other hosts on their own, it requires user action such as opening up an infected file or email.

How to Tell if Your Computer is Infected

If your computer’s been acting up you may be infected by malware. There are a few tell-tale signs that indicate whether the problem is caused by malware, or if it’s just a general computer problem. Here are 6 common signs that your computer might be infected.

Pop-up Ads

When you’re browsing the internet, are you seeing messages telling you that there is an error on your computer and advertising you to call for support? These phone number will usually link you to a “technician” who will ask to connect to your computer and subsequently make any changes they wish.

While some websites contain pop-up advertisements; news sites, social media, and the like shouldn’t. If you are seeing similar messages on those sites, you are likely infected with adware.

Here is an actual example:

Scanners Running in the Background

Does your computer tell you that you have hundreds of new viruses every day? Lots of malware will masquerade as a “Clean my PC” product.

If your supposed antivirus is telling you that you have thousands of viruses every day or is trying to charge you additional fees, you might have accidentally downloaded a virus.

Here is an actual example:

Phantom Emails

Have you been getting confused responses from friends and family about emails you don’t remember sending? Don’t worry, you’re not losing it. Your email has probably been infected with some sort of virus; viruses often spread through email attachments. If you receive a strange message from a friend with an attachment, double check with them before opening it.

You’re Locked Out of Your Computer

When you turn on your computer, does it tell you that you’ve been locked out by the FBI or some other government agency? You weren’t doing anything suspicious on the computer so there’s no reason to be locked out. This is a common strategy used by viruses called “ransomware” to extort money and information.

Learn more about ransomware.

Suddenly Your Computer is Very Slow

Did your computer suddenly slow to a crawl overnight? You might have a virus. These problems are especially suspicious if you haven’t recently installed new programs on your computer.

Computers can slow down over time due to the junk and clutter that collects. If your computer doesn’t have a virus but is still slow then you should try System Mechanic! It’s an easy way to stop frustrating errors, crashes, and freezes by clearing junk from your PC to make it work noticeably better.

You can get an exclusive discount because you’re a FixMeStick customer here. Let us know what you think!

Nothing at All

Modern malware can hide deep in your system and may not give you any clue it’s there. Programs like keyloggers will store your passwords, online banking information and credit card information without your knowledge. You could be unknowingly at risk for identity theft. Scanning for viruses, with an external device like the FixMeStick, makes certain that you don’t become a victim.

How to Remove Viruses and Keep Your Computer Safe

Ready to clean your computer? Check out our comprehensive guide here about how to remove viruses and malware from your computer.

Have a question about a potential virus? Leave us a comment below.


  1. Wayne Denis nd/or WID Investments -

    I have misplaced my latest version of FixMeStick on a flash drive. How can I determine if I still have a subscription and f so, when I will expire?

    • Linda -

      Hi Wayne, thanks for reading our blog. We sent the information regarding your account to your email address. Please check your email, thanks!

  2. Wayne Tubbs -

    If I get the Fix Me Stick for $9.95 what all does that cover?

    • Linda -

      Hi Wayne, the $9.95 is the cost for a trial subscription. This allows you to use the FixMeStick for one month. If after the one month you do not want to continue your subscription, simply contact us and we’ll cancel it. No need to send the stick back to us!

    • Linda -

      Hi Daniel, thanks for your interest! Please note that FixMeStick is only compatible with Intel-Based Macs from 2006 to 2017. Macs that have a T2 security chip (usually purchased after 2017) will not work. To find out if your Mac has a T2 security chip, click here.

  3. Joe Grant -

    I downloaded hp support assist to use an hp printer . now it will not uninstall. help please!
    thank you

  4. Rocheroyl Lowery -

    I moved from one state to another and in the move lost both of my I FixMeSticks ! Are they replaceable.

    • Linda -

      Hi Rocheroyl, thanks for reading our blog and sorry to see that you’ve lost both sticks. We’ve sent you an email with information for the next steps. Please check your email, thanks!

  5. Gigi -

    I have a lifetime fixmestick and is under the impression that it automatically upgrade itself with the newest technology. I am now getting requests to purchase a new fixmestick why?

    • Linda -

      Hi Gigi, I wasn’t able to locate a FixMeStick account listed under your email address. Could you send the serial number printed on the side of your FixMeStick to so we can look into this for you? It’s possible that the FixMeStick isn’t registered or linked to your email.

  6. Archie Pennington -

    Can I use the fix me stick once and then cancel and use it again say in 1/2 year and cancel. I really don’t need nor can afford anti-virus, anti spam, anti etc. and pay everyone a monthly fee.

    • Linda -

      Hi Archie, the FixMeStick works on a subscription model. You can sign up whenever you need it and then cancel it at the end of your subscription. If you’d like to switch to a monthly subscription model please send an email to!

  7. Neil M -

    Hi Linda. I have a Fix Me Stick and want to upgrade to the package offered a month or so ago. It contained Fix Me Stick, a virous protection prorgram, a VPN and maybe additional items. I cannot locate this email advertisement that was sent. How do I sign up for this. Thanks, Neil

    • Linda -

      Hi Neil, thanks for reading our newsletter. We never had this package that bundles all our products and partner products as each have always been sold separately on our website. Sorry about the confusion but do stay tuned to our newsletters for future promotions!

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