How do I remove a virus from my Android phone?

Having a virus on your Android phone can be annoying and even dangerous. Viruses can slow down your device, display unwanted ads, steal your personal information, and even gain complete control over your phone. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to detect and remove viruses from your Android device.

How do I know if my Android phone has a virus?

Here are some signs your Android device may be infected with malware or a virus:

  • You notice unusual and excessive pop-up ads
  • Your phone is running slower than normal
  • Your battery is draining faster than usual
  • You see apps on your phone that you didn’t install
  • Your data usage has spiked, even though your usage habits haven’t changed
  • You can’t uninstall suspicious apps
  • Your phone gets hot when you’re not using resource-intensive apps

If you notice any of these issues, it’s possible your device has been infected by a virus or malware. The next step is to scan your device and remove anything malicious.

How can I remove a virus from my Android phone?

Here are the steps to clean a virus off an Android phone:

  1. Install a trusted antivirus app. Look for apps like Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, Malwarebytes, or Lookout. These can scan your device and detect viruses or malware.
  2. Run a scan. Open the antivirus app and do a full scan of your device. This may take 10-30 minutes. The app will alert you if anything malicious is found.
  3. Quarantine or remove threats. Follow the antivirus app’s instructions to quarantine or remove any malware or viruses. You may need to click “remove” or “delete” for each flagged item.
  4. Reboot your phone. Power your device off completely and then restart it. This will clear any malware from memory.
  5. Check downloaded apps. Uninstall any apps you don’t remember downloading or that look suspicious. Viruses can hide in apps.
  6. Clear cache and browser data. Open your internet browser, go to settings, and clear the cache and cookies. This removes potentially harmful files.
  7. Reset your phone to factory settings. This is the nuclear option and will wipe your device clean. Back up any files first, then reset in Settings.

Running a scan with a trusted antivirus app is usually enough to find and remove any viruses or malware. Make sure to delete anything the app flags to fully remove the threat from your device. If issues persist after an antivirus scan, a factory reset may be required.

How can I avoid getting viruses on my Android phone?

Here are some tips to improve security and avoid infections on your Android phone:

  • Only install apps from the Google Play Store. Avoid sketchy third-party app stores.
  • Don’t sideload Android APK files from unknown sources.
  • Make sure you have an active antivirus app installed.
  • Keep your antivirus software updated.
  • Don’t click suspicious links in emails, texts, or online ads.
  • Use secure WiFi connections instead of public networks.
  • Limit which apps have permission to access contacts, messages, photos.
  • Patch your Android OS and apps frequently.
  • Enable Android’s built-in Play Protect malware scanning.
  • Avoid rooting or jailbreaking your device.

Following basic security practices goes a long way in keeping your phone free of viruses and malware. Being cautious about downloading apps and links can prevent infections.

What risks are associated with a virus on Android?

Here are some of the potential risks if your Android device is infected with malware or a virus:

  • Personal information theft – Malware can access and steal contacts, messages, emails, and other private data.
  • Financial theft – Banking trojans and spyware capture credit card numbers, logins, and bank account details.
  • Ransomware – Your phone may get locked down until you pay a ransom to cybercriminals.
  • Hijacked searches and ads – Viruses can change browser settings and show intrusive pop-up ads.
  • Increased data usage – Some malware secretly downloads large files or signs you up for premium services.
  • Higher bills – Fraudulent premium texting/calling can rack up your phone bill.
  • Damaged hardware – Viruses can actually overwork and overheat phone hardware leading to physical damage.
  • Bricking – In rare cases, severe malware can brick your phone making it inoperable.

To avoid these risks, it’s important to act quickly if you suspect a virus and reset your device if necessary. Antivirus software and safe browsing/downloading habits can also minimize your exposure.

What are the best free antivirus apps for Android?

Here are some of the top free antivirus apps for Android:

App Key Features
AVG Antivirus Real-time protection, virus scanner, speed optimizer, app locking
Avast Mobile Security Virus scanner, antiphishing, firewall, app lock, WiFi security checker
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Autopilot security, real-time scanning, malware scanner, privacy advisor
Malwarebytes Malware scanner, ransomware protection, privacy audit, malware blocking
CM Security Virus scan, system tuneup, app lock, game booster, WiFi security

All of these antivirus apps offer core protection features like on-demand scanning, real-time protection, and malware prevention. Avast, AVG, and Bitdefender are well-known names in antivirus software. Malwarebytes specializes in deep malware detection and removal. CM Security combines antivirus with system optimization features.

Should I use the built-in Google Play Protect for security?

Google Play Protect provides basic antivirus capabilities, but experts recommend supplementing it with another antivirus app. Here are some key points about Google Play Protect:

  • Enabled by default on Android devices with Google Play Store.
  • Scans apps daily for malware and risky behavior.
  • Removes dangerous apps from device.
  • Verifies safety of apps in Google Play Store.
  • Can detect and warn about malicious links.
  • Doesn’t offer real-time protection against emerging threats.
  • Provides baseline protection but not comprehensive security.

While Google Play Protect gives a layer of security, it can miss new forms of malware outside the Play Store ecosystem. Specialized antivirus apps use advanced heuristics, perform network monitoring, catch phishing attempts, and provide anti-theft capabilities.

Should I be concerned about factory resetting my phone if infected?

Factory resetting an infected Android phone is generally considered safe, with a few caveats:

  • Back up important data first – A reset will wipe all data.
  • Log out of accounts – Otherwise, someone could access them post-reset.
  • Rare malware survives factory resets – But this is uncommon.
  • Resets remove all viruses and malware – This “nuclear option” starts phone from scratch.
  • Don’t restore from old backup – This reinfects phone.
  • Change passwords after resetting – Additional protection from prior breaches.
  • Log into accounts on clean device – Prevent compromised accounts from spreading malware.

Factory resetting an infected Android phone is usually the most thorough cleaning method. Just be sure to backup data, logout of accounts, and change passwords after the reset for optimal security.

Can I avoid factory resetting an infected Android phone?

In some cases, you may be able to clean a virus from an Android phone without a factory reset. Try these steps:

  1. Boot phone into Safe Mode – Viruses can’t run in Safe Mode.
  2. Run a scan with reputable antivirus app – Quarantine/remove any threats found.
  3. Delete recently downloaded suspicious apps – Viruses often hide in apps.
  4. Clear browser cache and data – Gets rid of malicious files.
  5. Check running services – Stop any unknown background services.
  6. Uninstall unnecessary device admin apps – Malware can exploit these privileges.
  7. Reset app preferences – Fixes any unwanted changes made by malware.

If the virus persists after taking these steps, then a factory reset is likely required. But for relatively minor infections, scanning with antivirus software and deleting the malware can be sufficient.

How can I recover data after a factory reset?

If you need to recover data after factory resetting an Android phone, here are some options:

  • Restore from Google account – Contacts, apps, and settings sync to your Google account.
  • Use backup services – Apps like Samsung Cloud, Apple iCloud, etc. if enabled.
  • Extract SIM card – Contacts may be stored on your SIM card.
  • Recover with data recovery software – Apps like EaseUS, DiskDigger, etc. can retrieve some files.
  • Retrieve from cloud storage – Files uploaded to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. are retrievable.
  • Recover from computer backup – Use Android backup files on a computer via ADB tools.
  • Contact service providers – They may have call logs, text records, or other data.

The best way to recover data after a factory reset is to sync your Android phone to the cloud and create backups ahead of time. But even without backups, some data is recoverable through various methods.

Does resetting an Android phone remove a virus for good?

In most cases, resetting an Android phone to factory settings will remove a virus completely. Here’s why:

  • Wipes all apps and OS – Viruses have nowhere to hide.
  • Clears all device settings – Malware can’t persist in changed settings.
  • Starts phone from a clean system image – No infected files remain.
  • Forces you to login to accounts fresh – Locks out malware.
  • Requires apps to be reinstalled from scratch – No infected app files.
  • Has you accept app permissions again – Malware can’t automatically regain access.
  • Installing antivirus after reset adds protection.

The only way a factory reset wouldn’t completely remove a virus is if you restore backups without scanning them first. As long as you setup the phone as new after the reset, viruses are eliminated.

What steps should I take after removing a virus from my phone?

After removing a virus from your Android phone, here are some steps to take:

  1. Install antivirus software and enable updates and scans.
  2. Only download apps from Google Play Store.
  3. Avoid sideloading APK files or using unknown app stores.
  4. Review all apps installed on your phone.
  5. Reset passwords on accounts logged into on device.
  6. Carefully monitor accounts for unauthorized access.
  7. Keep phone OS and apps updated.
  8. Enable two-factor authentication where possible.
  9. Avoid unsafe web browsing and tapping unknown links.
  10. Use a VPN for greater online security.

Being cautious about security practices after an infection can prevent malware from returning. Installing antivirus software should provide ongoing protection as well.


Getting infected with malware or a virus on an Android phone is fairly common but can usually be resolved. Run scans with a trusted antivirus app to detect and remove any threats. For severe infections, perform a factory reset to wipe the phone completely. Just be sure to backup data first and avoid restoring it until the phone is clean. With vigilance, proper antivirus software, and safe browsing/downloading habits, you can avoid future virus infections on your Android device.