Assuming you’ve followed my steps on cleaning out an infected computer, you may or may not still have a few weird or unused applications on your system, but most of the task bar nonsense in Windows has stopped. Most of the errors have ceased. You are likely able to boot your computer, if you are, you may notice it is still booting somewhat slowly or there may be a few icons in the startup folder that you don’t recognize, the popups are gone, but the icons remain. There is a possibility that everything is just fine, however, you have a strange homepage or you could still have issues with IE.
After your computer is mostly clean, you should be able to access taskmgr and all of your other system services. Go to Start> in the text box run msconfig.exe, assuming you’re on a newer system, on older systems use the left Windows key + R and then type the same thing in. Go to start up applications and disable everything except antivirus software. If you know that something is fishy or left over bloat, you may be able to delete it later, but first just disable it. This will disable many of the registry pointers that no longer exist and so Windows will not be looking for them to start any longer. This will also stop some of the stuff installed on your computer when you bought it. This is another good thing. It will ask you to reboot, but skip this until a later step.
I’d recommend a further cleaning, if you used Disk Cleanup in the last step by step, you should probably clean your internet history and local storage. Leave the cookies, this is how sites know it’s you, but if you’re paranoid, go ahead and delete them and re login to your social media. It’s time consuming, but hey, it’s not gonna hurt. Also this could clear out a lot of empty file and folder values that no longer exist. I recommend using a third party software called Bleachbit. I used to recommend Ccleaner, but now use at your own risk. Bleachbit will make it easier for you to delete browsing history and local storage data. It will also clear out any new temp files that have accumulated since the last clean and reboot. Windows Disk Cleanup is good, but sometimes it leaves what it deems unsafe to remove. Most of what we’re doing is ridding ourselves of garbage anyway.
Defragment your hard drive. Windows XP through Windows 10 all have built in applications for doing this. Most can be set to run automatically. This is great, set this to auto run monthly on a full defrag and then tell it run a full defrag now. This will move files into an order which pulls most of your applications towards the front of the disk. This keeps the read arm from having to travel frantically searching for one particular file. It is like rearranging a bookshelf after years of clutter. You can find this tool by clicking Start and clicking on the computer tab and then right-clicking on your disk, usually C. Once there, go down to properties and it should bring up a window that lets you CHKDSK and defragment. Run the defragmenter now and while I’m in there, I always set the CHKDSK to run once on the next boot. This will check for any errors on the filesystem. It removes orphaned inodes or pieces of files left behind. Linux does this automatically now, but Windows never has been good about cleaning up its mess.
FOURTH AND FINAL STEP
You will want to remove any leftover toolbars from the machine, any strange icons you find in uninstall software. Anything you found still checked in msconfig earlier, you’ll want to search for it now and remove it. Go to Control Panel and find Uninstall software and click on it, it will bring up a list, but you may have to wait depending upon how much you have installed. My advice is to remove anything that was installed around the same time you got the virus or malware infection. If it is free or says toolbar, it has to go. Rule of thumb, only leave vital Windows software installed and maybe an antivirus, but everything else can go. Even some of the software HP or Emachines installed, though, I might leave some of that and just disable it if I were cleaning your machine. If you need it you can reinstall it later. Leave anything saying modem or Net Framework alone. These are usually Windows software. If you don’t know what it is, leave it for now and look it up on DuckDuckGo. Absolutely never user Google for searching anything.
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, it is now time to reboot. Hopefully this helped someone. This is usually what I do. Sometimes it is a good idea to clean or tune up a machine even when there is no infection, but you’d only do that once a year. Also to change your IE homepage, why do you use IE, but to do so, go to Control Panel or Settings, depending on how new your OS is and find Internet Options. This can easily be achieved by going into IE and finding the tools menu and just resetting IE. Usually by default it is set to something like google.com, but the absolute best way to know that the browser is fixed is to go in Internet Explorer > Tools > Internet Options and on the first tab you might see where you can replace the homepage, but if you wanted to reset which is best, go to the advanced tab and hit reset or restore default.