Running a regular protection scan doesn't always fix problems with spyware, viruses or malware, as sometimes these invaders burrow deep into your computer. They may then activate whenever you start up, or hijack your anti-virus programs and stop them from doing their job. If you're having problems running a scan with Spybot Search and Destroy, put your computer in safe mode first so that it only loads essential programs.
Press "Windows-R" to open your system's Run dialog box in both Windows 8 and 7. Type "msconfig" (without the quotes) in the search box and select "OK" to open the System Configuration tool.
Select the "Boot" tab and check the "Safe boot" box. Make sure that the "Minimal" button checks itself when you do this. Select "Apply" and then "OK." A box opens telling you that you must restart your computer to apply the changes you've made. Select "Restart" and wait for your computer to reboot in safe mode.
Open "Spybot Search and Destroy." Select "System Scan" and then click "Start a scan." If the program lists malware in its results at the end of the scan, select "Fix selected." Close the program.
Use the "Windows-R" key combination and the "msconfig" command to return to the System Configuration tool to reverse the startup command you made earlier. Make sure to uncheck the "Safe boot" box, apply your changes and restart your computer. If you don't do this, your computer will continue to start up in safe mode.
Tips & Warnings
- If you're running Windows 7, you can also get into safe mode when you start up your computer. When you see something appear on the screen, repeatedly tap the "F8" button, say once every second. Your computer will then take you to a boot menu with a safe mode option.
- You don't have Internet access in safe mode. If you need to be online, say to update Spybot before you run a scan, use the safe mode with networking option. To set this up, check "Network" and not "Minimal" when you activate "Safe boot" in the System Configuration tool.
- There is no guarantee that anti-virus and anti-malware programs will work in safe mode if malware has compromised them. If you can't run Spybot in safe mode, consider uninstalling and reinstalling it. To avoid malware issues, you may need to download the program to a USB stick from another computer and install it on your machine in safe mode.
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