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Remove Viruses & Malware From Your Computer (Windows XP)

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If your computer is running slowly, or it isn't performing as expected, it may be infected with malware or a virus.

The following are directions for removing malware and viruses from your computer, and/or closing major security holes in your operating system. Please pay attention to the order in which you perform these steps; performing them out of order may cause problems.

IMPORTANT! If you suspect your University-owned computer is infected, STOP. Do not attempt to remove the virus or shut down your computer. Because this may constitute a data security incident, contact your IT Administrator or the OIT Help Center immediately.

Note: If your network connection has been turned off due to virus infection or detected vulnerabilities, please visit or call the OIT Help Center (A109 LGRC Lowrise• 545-9400) when you have finished these steps for disinfecting and/or removing vulnerabilities from your computer.

Step 1: Download/save all files & print this document

Before you can begin fixing your computer, you have to obtain the necessary files (below) and print this document. Your computer will not be connected to the network while you are disinfecting it, so you will not be able to access these files on the Web.

Note: Even if you already have McAfee VirusScan installed, uninstall it, then download and install the latest version.

You can also get these instructions and software on CD from the OIT Help Center by going to A109  LGRC Lowrise with your UCard. Each CD costs $3 and includes additional malware removal software and Windows updates not available directly from the OIT Web site. You can also download an .iso image of the CD free of charge and burn it to disc yourself:

Download a free ISO image of the OIT Anti-virus CD

An ISO Image is similar to a zip file in that it groups several files into a single download that is easier to manage. When you burn this image to a CD, it produces a full copy of the OIT Anti-virus CD from which you can install the software and updates you need to disinfect your computer. See Burn a CD in OIT Computer Classrooms for more information.

Remember to print or save this document!

Step 2: Disconnect Your Computer from the Network

Your computer should not be physically connected to a network (e.g., cable modem, DSL, UMass Ethernet). Unplug your network cable from the Ethernet or phone jack and do not reconnect it until you have finished this process.

Step 3: Disable System Restore

  1. Right-click My Computer .
  2. From the drop-down menu, choose Properties . The System Properties window will open.
  3. On the System Properties window, click the System Restore tab.
  4. On the System Properties window, select Turn off System Restore .
  5. Click OK .

Step 4: Install Anti-Virus Software

Remove All Previously Installed Anti-Virus Software

To effectively remove viruses, make sure you do not have other anti-virus applications (or previous versions of VirusScan) installed on your computer. 

Install VirusScan 8

The anti-virus software provided by OIT comes with the latest virus updates and definitions.

  1. Open VirusScan 8.x (vscan8x.exe).
  2. Install the software using the Installation Wizard.
  3. Re-start your computer.

Step 5: Scan for Viruses

Start Your Computer in Safe Mode

  1. Re-start your computer.
  2. While the computer is starting, press F8 repeatedly.
  3. On the Windows startup menu, select Safe Mode , and then press Enter .

Scan for Viruses

  1. Go to Programs > McAfee > VirusScan Console .
  2. On the VirusScan Console window, double-click Full Scan. The VirusScan On-Demand Properties - Full Scan window will open.
  3. On the VirusScan On-Demand Scan Properties - Full Scan window, select All local drives and click Start (at right). VirusScan will begin scanning your computer for malware. This will take some time, but it is important that you make sure the viruses have been removed.
  4. Take note of the names of any viruses found during your scan . You will need to report this to the OIT Help Center when you call later to have your Internet access re-enabled.

Step 6: Update Service Pack

Do you already have the Service Pack?

  1. Go to Start > Run...
  2. In the Run... dialog box, type winver and press OK .
  3. In the About Windows window, look for the phrase "Service Pack 3". If this phrase does not appear (or you see a lower service pack number), proceed with the service pack installation process (see below). If the phrase "Service Pack 3" does appear, please do not install it again.

Update Windows XP Service Pack

This update ("SP3") includes significant improvements to the security of the operating system and network software such as Internet Explorer and Outlook. You can download this file from the Microsoft Download Center or you can get it automatically through Windows Update (

  1. If you chose to download the file, open the Windows XP Service Pack file (WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe) from where you saved it.
  2. Follow the steps in the installation wizard to complete the update.
  3. When the update, is complete, you will be asked to restart your computer, once your system reboots, Windows XP will be updated.

For more information about Windows XP Service Pack 3, see the Microsoft Help and Support Web site.

Step 8: Enable System Restore

  1. Right-click on My Computer .
  2. From the drop-down menu, choose Properties .
  3. Click the System Restore tab.
  4. De-select Turn off System Restore .
  5. Click OK .

Step 9: Reconnect Your Computer to the Network

If your network connection has been turned off for virus infection, please visit or call the OIT Help Center (A109  LGRC Lowrise • 545-9400) when you have finished disinfecting your computer.