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Checking For Virus

What is a Virus?|How To Find A Virus|What To Do With A Virus

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A computer virus is a software program that attaches itself to another program in computer memory or on a disk, and spreads from one program to another. Viruses can damage data, cause computers to crash, display offending or bothersome messages, or lie dormant until such time they are set to "awaken." (Microsoft has a detailed description of a computer virus in their Knowledge Base. Click here to go straight to it. Hit your "back" button to come back here).

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A virus can be anywhere on the system. There is no way that I know of, short of getting a current virus program, to find even � of the viruses in existence. There are ways, however, to establish the possibility of a virus on the system (the best way, of course, is to run a current virus scanning program, but make sure it's made for Windows 95. The old programs will mess up Windows 95). Listed below are some good ways to do it specifically in Windows 95:

CONVENTIONAL MEMORY: Boot to a DOS prompt (restart the system, F8, Command Prompt Only) and type MEM/C/P. Under MEMORY SUMMARY, check the CONVENTIONAL MEMORY, TOTAL. The size should say 655,360. If it doesn't, there could be a virus (Disk Overlay tools will lower this size, and QEMM and other memory management products can raise this size as well). If you suspect a virus at this point, try booting off the startup disk and trying this test again. If the system reports the right amount of memory, it could indicate a virus.

COMMAND.COM AND WIN.COM: (located in the root directory) should be EXACTLY 92,870 bytes. You can find this value by going to a DOS prompt and typing DIR COMMAND.COM. For WIN.COM, change to the Windows directory and type DIR WIN.COM. WIN.COM should be EXACTLY 22,679 bytes. If either of these files is lower than the amount listed, there could be file corruption. Extract the file off the CD or disk, copy it over the original, and reboot a couple of times to see if the size changes (If the you notice the size of executable (.EXE) files changing, this is very likely a virus). If either the COMMAND.COM or WIN.COM is over the listed size, it is likely there is a virus on the system.

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So, what happens when the determination is the distinct possibility of a virus? Your best bet is to get a virus protection program. You can download a shareware copy (from a different computer, not the one possibly infected). That way, you aren't going out spending $50+ for a program you may not need. Warning: The shareware versions of virus programs usually don't clean a virus off the system, but it will tell the you if you need a full version. If you don't know how to get a virus protection program, go to a search engine, and type "antivirus" in the search field. These are the most popular virus programs.

Once it has been determined that there is a possible virus on a your system, there are no more troubleshooting steps we can take until you run a virus scanning program for Windows 95. A virus can infect many different parts of a computer, and everything we do to troubleshoot can just make it worse. Viruses live off people rebooting their systems, and every time a system is rebooted, the virus gets deeper into the system.

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