It’s a remarkably sinking feeling when it happens to you. Your mouse won’t move. New windows take forever to open or close. Quick-responding programs now move along at a snail’s pace; your email seems to be sending messages you  never remember composing; and your system takes forever to start, then keeps on running even when you’re not actively using it.

They are tell-tale signs that your computer is likely infected with a virus or malware. At this point is to activate your antivirus software and hope it can root out the problem.

Don’t have any? Then your best bet is to immediately read reviews of some of the leading antivirus software packages available, and make a selection to get your computer under control.

Most of us have unfortunately seen what a virus can do to our computer in just a few short hours. But why does it happen this way? What processes does the virus take control of in our system that has it staggering along gasping for air?

Here’s a breakdown of exactly what’s happening inside your machine when a virus seizes control.

Blue Screen of Death in Silver Black Laptop

Infiltrating the Registry

The registry is the resource computers look to at startup to determine what programs need to be run. When a virus enters the registry, it is able to control which programs start and which don’t. It also writes code that ensure the virus itself activates upon startup, draining RAM from your hard drive. The less RAM power there is to run the programs you use regularly, the slower they will open.

Working Behind the Scenes

Like a great movie director, a lot of the biggest impact from a virus takes place where you can’t see it. While you computer is dormant or otherwise occupied with rudimentary tasks, the virus is hard at work stealing your passwords, filtering your data into spyware and adware, or encrypting your data in an effort to force you to pay to recover it later. Individually these tasks aren’t all that complex, but when they are being carried out on top of all your normal functions, and it tends to grind your computer’s gears a bit. Think of it like having a secret part-time job that you go to after your 9-to-5 shift is over. Those four extra hours a day don’t seem like a lot by themselves, but when you keep losing those four hours of rest, your full-time performance suffers.

The Ripple Effect

Because it’s a foreign element in your computer system, the virus affects everything it touches. It will modify files into new formats, create duplicates of certain items to use later for purposes such as password theft, and alter settings for graphics and applications. Some of these manipulations are purposeful, some are the random effects of malicious code interacting with otherwise stable programming. You’ll find things like the display on your monitor, your interface devices like a mouse, even the location of routine files and apps changed by the virus’s presence. All of these little quirks and changes require processing power to execute and to maintain. The constant drain of resources has its price on your system, which has less juice left to run the apps and programs that you’re actually using.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.