How to Scan for Viruses: Keeping Your Devices Clean

You likely have a ton of personal information stored on your laptop or desktop and you also probably spend a reasonable amount of time on the internet paying bills, banking, or shopping. Just about everyone does that today.

The internet has simply made things easier. No more having to leave the house to transfer money at the bank and you no longer have to go shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

However, despite how much more comfortable these tasks are now, all of these activities leave you vulnerable to data hacking and identity theft. Given that your computer is comprised of thousands of personal files, you don’t want the wrong person getting their hands on your valuable data. Good thing is that you can scan for viruses and prevent those potential dangers from happening.

How to Scan for Viruses Using Anti-Virus Software

Antivirus software is a must if you want to keep your information and files securely. As an integral part of protecting your computer, tablets, and mobile phones, you always want to make sure you know how to configure your antivirus software properly.

Once you’ve configured your settings appropriately, there are some fundamental rules to follow to operate your software correctly and make sure you keep your computer or mobile device virus-free.

In the event you do find a virus, you can get rid of it fairly easily but the sooner you catch it, the better. If you do find one, there are a few straightforward steps you can take to get rid of whatever virus or threat is found on your machine.

After which, you can follow some simple steps to make sure you double check you don’t have any others. Finally, you can take extra precautions to make sure you aren’t leaving yourself open to more viruses in the future.

1. Automatic Scanning

As mentioned, if you configure your antivirus software properly, you can save yourself from headaches and additional steps in the future. You can do this configuration as soon as you install your software, which means you won’t have to worry in the future about the work your antivirus software is doing.

Configuring the software is quite simple, and this means that you set up specific settings to keep your system safe. By properly setting up your software, you don’t have to worry about manually running scans unless you want to or suspect you have an issue.

To set up your configuration, simply go to the settings in your antivirus software. Following these steps can keep your machine free of viruses and other threats:

  1. You can simply set up an automatic whole-computer scan to take place once a week. You can also set it up to scan more frequently, depending on your personal preference.
  2. Schedule a virus signature update for a minimum of once a week. Again, you can do this more frequently if you want to.
  3. Turn on real-time virus detection.
  4. Set up and turn on email message scanning on both messages coming in and those you are sending out.
  5. Turn on heuristic virus detection.

Making sure your antivirus software is set up to run on its own means that you can put manual scans out of your mind. It also means that you have given yourself the best shot at your software detecting threats.

2. Manual Scanning

Your antivirus software is intended to go through all of your files with a fine-tooth comb in an attempt to find any or all threats. If you configure it correctly, you likely won’t need to run manual scans all that frequently, unless you choose to do so. If you do want to run manual scans, it is effortless to get your antivirus software to scan your computer for viruses.

You can manually run your antivirus software by following just two straightforward steps:

  1. Right click or double click your antivirus icon
  2. In Windows Explorer, right click a directory or file, and select Scan. This will ensure a full scan of your computer for any viruses.

Bonus Tip: Regular Maintenance

Learning how to scan for viruses manually and automatically, as well as running your antivirus software isn’t enough. If you want to ensure your computer stays virus-free, you must make sure the software is in good condition all the time. If configured properly, you can do superficial checks to ensure your software is running as it is intended in order to find any viruses.

Here are the recommended tasks you should accomplish:

  • Check every day to make sure your software program is running. You can do this by checking the system tray for the icon that represents your software program.
  • You should ensure that you check your entire computer periodically to confirm that the scan has completed its search for viruses. We recommend doing this at least once weekly. Then check the status of the scan to see if any infected files were found.

What to Do When You Find a Virus

If you do find a virus on your computer, you can follow a series of basic steps to get rid of it, and they are:

  1. Check the virus alert carefully. Make sure it hasn’t already been removed. Take note of the file name and the name of the virus. You can then go to the website for your particular antivirus software for more information.
  2. Determine if a tool to remove the virus is required to get your computer clean again.
  3. Update your virus signature files.
  4. Scan your computer again for any other viruses.


Antivirus software is a must when it comes to protecting your files and other valuable information. Given that you likely use the internet for several tasks that include very personal information, you want to make sure you are not susceptible to viruses or other internet threats.

Ensuring your antivirus software is up-to-date, running correctly, and configured accurately give you the best chance of keeping your machine virus-free. If you ever do find a virus on your system, do not panic! You can follow the steps above to get rid of it.

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