How to start a virus removal business in a down economy –

In a down economy, more people are looking to repair their computers before purchasing a new one. This means more opportunities for you, the aspiring entrepreneur. In this article, we look into how to start a computer business focused on virus and spyware removal.

Why Focus on Virus Removal?

If you're considering starting a computer business, consider that it's very hard to make good margins reselling hardware. Although it might be fun to build custom computers, the market for this service disappeared long ago. By contrast, if you learn to provide services that do not require parts, then you can get started more quickly with less risk. Services that don't require parts include virus and spyware removal, installations, tutoring and (in most cases) data recovery.

You can create a profitable business by providing any of these services, but virus and spyware removal services often command top rates because finding a virus on one's computer creates a situation that is often:

  • urgent, requiring help now
  • frightening
  • complicated (thanks, rootkits!)

Further, it's a good service to be able to provide because viruses aren't going away any time soon. As long as free software can easily be installed (this is going to be for a while, folks), people will infect their computers.


For the computer technician, marketing is typically the most difficult aspect of running a business. Fortunately, you can perform a lot of your advertising online (relying on completely free advertising if you're doing this part-time). Don't waste money on newspaper print ads; they don't work for this type of business. Get your web site up, and start buying traffic using a PPC system, (making sure to bid very low initially, especially if you are new to this). Meanwhile, generate links to your new business through online business listing services, including the Yellow Pages, Google Local, and Yahoo Local - they all have free listing services, and carry a lot of weight.


Don't make the common mistake of undercharging. Once you're a professional, charge accordingly. Show congruence in all aspects of your business by dressing, acting and speaking professionally, as well as charging professionally. When your client has a computer virus, he is generally willing to pay more for the best service. Check up on the local rates, and get a sense of what others charge. Learn to provide quotes over the phone; that way, you can tell how many customers you are turning away because of your rates, and you can charge appropriately for their situation, while quickly adopting your pricing structures to meet demand as you learn what the market will bear. (How difficult is the job? How far away are they? Use your ability to provide custom quotes to your advantage.)

Virus Removal Techniques

Much of the virus removal process is automated. However, customers will usually have already exhausted the easiest options (they will have likely already tried a few virus scanners, unsuccessfully). This is where your knowledge of virus removal techniques will set you apart from the other guys while giving you the opportunity to deliver on your customer's expectations, saving their computer and hopefully earning word of mouth referrals and testimonials.

Protect Yourself. Protect Your Client.

Cover yourself by first having your client release you and your business from any liability resulting from data loss, while limiting your liability to no more than the cost agreed upon for the repair. Next, give both you and your client piece of mind by agreeing to first back up his computer to an external USB hard drive before any work is performed. Use backup software that does the job without requiring you to boot into Windows. I am not a lawyer, so consult your own lawyer to draft an appropriate waiver of liability and any other necessary documents. Also discuss your operating procedures with your lawyer (including, but not limited to, all of the above and below steps).

Learn on Your Machine in a Lab First

The below steps are best tested in a laboratory environment, quarantined off from the world. This special environment doesn't have to be that complicated: in its simplest form, it consists of a computer disconnected from all networks. Although we won't discuss how to acquire a virus here, suffice it to say that you will need to obtain virus samples to install on this quarantined test machine, and you will need to handle them with extreme caution. Run through "catching a virus" and removing it a few times. Try different malware components. Most importantly, get your process down cold before fixing anyone's computer.

Remove viruses before booting into Windows

Tools can be obtained that will allow you to scan an infected computer without having to boot the infected Windows installation. BART and free bootable Linux distributions will come in handy.

Next, run a few good scanners in Windows.

After the initial bootable scan tool has removed the first round of malware, it's time to boot into Windows to remove the remaining culprits. Antivirus software packages include "serviceman" licenses, which grant you the permission you need to run them legally. A few antivirus and antispyware programs should be run at this point.

Give the system an old-fashioned manual check.

Inspect the web browser for hijackers. Use tools that facilitate the exploration of background processes and their legitimacy. Use similar tools to inspect for illegitimate start-up entries.

Learning More:

If the following article by interested you, consider visiting our site for our online guide to starting your own computer repair business.

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