What’s Infecting Your PC? A Guide to the Various Types of Computer Viruses

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a computer virus. Well, other than trying to determine what kind of virus you have. There are so many different types of computer viruses it can be hard to tell what you’ve got and how to handle it.

We’re here to help. If you have a computer virus, keep reading to determine what it is.

How Do I Know If My Computer Is Infected With a Virus?

Every computer virus comes with some telltale signs. 

The most common sign is a slow-running computer. Your computer might take a long time to start up, and struggle to launch applications. The mouse pointer may even lag around the screen.

Pop-up ads, especially on your desktop, definitely mean a virus. Some viruses will make applications open on their own, or might delete files entirely. A virus might also install strange files and icons to your computer.

If you notice new files, don’t open them. They’re likely other viruses.

If your computer suddenly stops working altogether you’ve likely got a virus. Any sudden detrimental activity outside the norm could be a virus. If you notice anything like this, give your computer a scan or seek a virus removal specialist.

The Different Types of Computer Viruses

There are countless types of computer viruses out there. There are so many, in fact, it’s hard to keep track of them all. New ones are being made regularly, and some are rarer than others.

The most common viruses are:

  • Direct Action Virus
  • Resident Virus
  • Boot Sector Virus
  • Multipartite Virus
  • Polymorphic Virus
  • Overwrite Virus
  • Macro Virus
  • Spacefiller Virus
  • Web Scripting Virus
  • Browser Hijacker

These virus types make up the majority of viruses. Each one infects your computer in a different way. Some are easy to diagnose and remove, and others not as much.

Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail.

Direct Action Virus

Direct action viruses are built into certain infected files. They are mostly found in .exe and com files. They lie in wait until you launch the program, when they wake up and infect your machine.

Direct action viruses can spread to other files on your PC when launched. They make these files unusable. 

Thankfully, most direct action viruses can be removed with a simple anti-virus program.

Resident Virus

The resident virus infects files similarly to the direct action virus. However, resident viruses don’t need to be activated to start working. They install themselves on your machine, making it harder to trace where you got the virus from.

You’ll need to use some good anti-malware software to remove these guys. They can get pretty bad, especially with time. They’ve even been known to infect anti-virus software, making it inaccessible!

If this has happened, you might need to purchase a new computer.

Boot Sector Virus

Boot sector viruses are kind of a thing of the past. They mostly came from floppy disks. Boot sector viruses infect the master boot record, causing issues starting the computer.

These are very rare now, but are still around. If you get a boot sector virus, you’re going to need to reformat your computer. They’re extremely hard to get rid of.

Multipartite Virus

Multipartite viruses attack a computer in multiple places using multiple methods. It’s like having a bunch of varied viruses all at once. They can affect everything from the boot sector to individual files.

These are some of the most dangerous viruses. You’ll need very good anti-malware software to find and eradicate these. Even then, you might need to see a specialist.

Polymorphic Virus

Polymorphic viruses are like the chameleons of the virus world.

Every time a polymorphic virus is launched it changes its code. This makes it great at evading anti-virus programs. It’s not impossible with great anti-virus software, but it’s best to see a trusted specialist for these bad boys.

Overwrite Virus

Overwrite viruses do exactly that — they overwrite your computer’s code. This destroys lines of code that are necessary for your computer to function. An overwrite code can easily render your computer useless.

The overwrite virus is considered one of the deadliest Trojan viruses. Once destroyed, you’ll have to manually reinstall the components damaged by the virus. That, or reformat your whole computer.

Macro Virus

Macro viruses are pretty sneaky. They’re written in macro language, which is what programs like Microsoft Work use. A macro virus can disguise itself as a Word document, and then infect your device once opened.

Oftentimes, macro viruses will redirect you to virus-filled porn sites when launched. This opens you up to even more viruses. Macro viruses can even infect your contact list and spam your contacts with the same virus!

You’ll want to get a specialist to help you with this one.

Spacefiller Virus

A spacefiller virus, also known as a cavity virus, codes itself into the empty spaces of a file’s code. This makes it hard to detect, as it doesn’t change the size of a file. Thankfully these are pretty rare nowadays.

Web Scripting Virus

These viruses go directly for your web browser’s security system. This lets hackers mess with your browser and easily steal your data. They can spam your social media pages, and send virus-filled messages to your contacts.

These aren’t too hard to remove with the help of a specialist. Even a good anti-malware program can usually help.

Browser Hijacker

These annoying viruses replace your browser’s homepage with an ad-filled one. The page doesn’t harm your computer, but it’s undeniably annoying. The ads attached to the page might lead to further viruses.

These can usually be found and eliminated with anti-virus programs. 

Adios, Viruses

Now that you know about the different types of computer viruses, you’ll be better equipped to sniff them out. If you notice any strange activity on your computer, contact a computer specialist. They’ll lead you down the best path to living a virus-free life.

If you’re looking for a computer repair service in the Tucson area, see what we can do for you. Contact us with any comments or questions.