Computer viruses are so common these days that I don’t know anyone with a computer that hasn’t either gotten a computer virus on their own computer or at least know someone who has. But what is the quickest and wisest way to recover from a malware infection, such as viruses and spyware, without costing too much, losing your data, or having any headaches from hiring an inexperienced technician?
If attempting it yourself, prepare for some frustrations. I would add that the average person cannot truly know if their computer is clean, because they just don’t have the training. There are many reasons why your security software may say your computer is clean when it really isn’t, but I won’t get into that here. I always say to save yourself a headache and call an independent, experienced technician. Just know that we aren’t all the same, just like with Doctors, we all don’t specialize in the same areas. Not to forget that there are good Doctors and bad Doctors.
But how a PC Technician approaches a virus removal job depends on what you explain your expectations and desires are, how difficult the job is, as well as how experienced the technician is.
Virus Removal Expectations
Some people think that a virus is the end of their computer, that they will have to buy a new one and all they want now is their data.
It’s true that a virus infection can render your computer so useless that buying a new computer seems like the only option, but most viruses only affect your software which can either be cleaned or reinstalled.
The mystery for the consumer seems to be where to start, because in many cases, the computer is so unresponsive that the keyboard and mouse do not work. Just know that a good PC Technician should have the resources and training to resurrect computers with even the worst infections.
But some infections are so bad that the Windows Operating System may need to be reinstalled. In these cases, you will get your computer back working just fine, but most likely without all of the same programs and customizations you had before, meaning you will have some follow-up work to do. Hopefully, you still have the original software so you can build your computer back up yourself.
PC Technician Experience
It has always been my preference to maintain the original Windows installation so that the customer can get their computer back with all of the same programs and customizations they had before.
But not all PC Technicians can achieve this while maintaining good performance and stability in a timely manner. An inexperienced technician will almost always opt to run a System Recovery before they get in over their head trying to remove the infection while trying to maintain a stable Operating System.
Hopefully they’ll back up your data first. There is nothing inherently wrong with running a System Recovery, but this is a feature that the computer manufacturers built in as a “User” feature you can do yourself. I admit, sometimes it is all you can do, but in my experience, maybe only 20% of the time. But for inexperienced technicians, they seem to use it 80% of the time.
So when you get your newly repaired computer home, you may find out that your printer is no longer setup, your network settings have changed, your email isn’t setup, your wallpaper has changed, you don’t have all the same programs you had before, and you may even be missing some or all of your data… but your computer works. I certainly wouldn’t like getting all the phone calls about these problems. I call these types of technicians “reformatters”.
How to Spot Reformatters
Anyway, the best way to spot “reformatters” is that they will skip straight to the explanation that they will have to perform a System Recovery.
A shop can turn around a lot of computers by doing it this way, but so can my 12 year old daughter. But take this into consideration when you are comparing services. Don’t ever think for a moment that we PC Technicians are all the same. Don’t think that just because someone charges more or less means that you are getting the same, best or worst service.
But be careful about someone who charges the least. I say this because anyone who knows how good they are will want to be properly compensated for it. They might not be greedy and charge the most, but they certainly won’t want to charge the least. Besides, computer repair involves time consuming labor, and you can only repair so many computers a day.
Question the PC Technician’s Experience Level
If you don’t have any positive referrals to go by, I would question the experience of anyone that charges on the low end. I wouldn’t get too detailed and lengthy like you might with a major purchase though. Just do some quick mental math for your local economy and try to estimate their overhead to see if he or she would be able to make a reasonable living repairing only a few computers a day at that rate. It is an unsustainable business model you will see come and go on Craigslist everyday, and by the way, I am not knocking all Craigslist PC Techs, just the obvious ones.
In some cases, maybe the customer doesn’t care about their data, and all they use their computer for is to surf the internet and check webmail. In these few cases, running a System Recovery may be a good option.
The bottom line is that you should think about your expectations about how well you want to fare when recovering from a computer virus. Choosing the right shop or independent technician may make all the difference. And don’t try to compare us all just by price, we aren’t like a bag of Potato Chips where you can surely find a store that sells the exact same item for less, because when it comes to skills and experience, professionalism and work ethic, we are not all the same, and you will certainly pay for that difference.