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Tech tips

Here’s what it looks like when a virus takes over your computer

Presented by TotalAV

Presented by TotalAV

Get an annual plan of TotalAV Internet Security for only $19 — over 85% off!

A slow computer can turn you into a detective. You start investigating the clues, trying to find out what happened. You might even Google “How to tell if you have a virus” or “Warning signs your computer is infected.”

A Google search can easily send you down a rabbit hole, though. That’s why we took the time to write a helpful guide you can use to solve the mystery. There are a few obvious signs, like a parade of popups whenever you open your laptop.

But you should also know the more subtle signs of a virus. Not all infections are in your face — some lurk on your system for a while before taking over. Here are some surefire signs your computer is infected with a virus.

1. It’s hot to the touch

When you accidentally download malware, your computer’s internal components start working overtime to handle it. They’re not supposed to work that hard.

The fans are hustling to cool down the system, and eventually, they might wear out. Once they go kaput, your inner circuitry might even melt. Tap or click here to see how to keep your gadgets cool.

If in doubt, whip a thermometer out. Laptops should be between 50 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (or 10 to 35 degrees Celsius). | Photo © Artem Medvediev |

Speaking of which, watch out for strange sounds

Your computer may try to warn you that something is wrong. Although some types of malware can hide warning messages, they can’t overpower the sound itself. If it sounds like phantoms are moaning or bells are ringing, take that as a warning sign.

2. It keeps crashing

Desktop apps that previously worked wonders suddenly stopped working. It might be an issue with the developer, so check out official sources for news of any problems.

You might find out your software and hardware aren’t compatible, which may cause technical issues. If no other customers complain, the problem may lie within your system.

You should be especially worried if you can’t open your antivirus program. Dangerous malware like ransomware digs its claws into your favorite files, stopping you from opening them. Even if you aren’t dealing with ransomware, you may have a nasty virus overtake your system.

Here’s one way to fix the program: Reboot your device in Safe Mode. Tap or click here to use Safe Mode on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

3. Your device restarts itself

Of course, sometimes your computer needs to restart when an update comes out. But you will always get a heads-up before that happens. You can even set the time you want your system to restart.

Not so with a virus. It won’t ask you for permission. There’s no warning whatsoever.

Sudden restarts are a sign that a hacker is installing malware. That’s because you usually need to reset your system to install harmful software. If someone is breaking into your system from afar, they have no qualms about cutting you off in the middle of whatever you’re doing.

4. Videos take forever to load and you have less data to use

By now, you know viruses can make your device hotter because your internal circuits work harder than they were designed to. But your hardware isn’t the only casualty. Your storage space takes a big hit, too.

Although some level of buffering is normal, it shouldn’t happen all the time. Malware brings your internet traffic to a screeching halt through DND hijacking. They’re redirecting your internet traffic to unsafe servers.

Buffering is synonymous with suffering. Sometimes it’s a sign of computer infection. | © Tero Vesalainen |

Compare this to a VPN service, which redirects your traffic to safe servers. When VPNs do it, they’re protecting your privacy so advertisers can’t follow your activity. When hackers redirect your traffic, they’re trying to squeeze as much private data from you as possible. It’s a huge security risk.

That’s why you should check your router’s DNS settings. Free tools like Cloudflare or Quad9 offer advanced hijacking protection. Tap or click here to make your router hacker-proof.

How to stop viruses from breaking into your system

Cyberattacks are on the rise, and the more we rely on our devices for work, school and our personal lives, the more we have to lose. Whether it’s bank accounts, personal data, photos or conversations, there’s just so much to preserve and protect. That’s why we recommend our sponsor, TotalAV.

TotalAV’s industry-leading security suite is easy to use and offers the best protection in the business. In fact, it’s received the renowned VB100 award for detecting more than 99% of malware samples for the last three years in a row.

Not only do you get continuous protection from the latest threats, but its AI-driven Web Shield browser extension blocks dangerous websites automatically, and its Junk Cleaner can help you quickly clear out your old files.

Right now, get an annual plan of TotalAV Internet Security for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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