How to Remove Android Virus Without Factory Reset

By | May 15, 2022

Desktop and Labtop PCs are not the only devices that receive viruses. While this is not a common occurrence, Android devices can indeed run into malware.

If you get a virus, you can do a factory reset to get rid of it, but that means you lose all your data. Your photos, saved games, text messages and more will be lost if you don’t back them up. Obviously, factory reset should be your last resort.

So what can you do to remove a phone virus without a factory reset?

Does My Android Phone Have a Virus?

Many times, when people think they have an Android virus, Suppose your Android phone crashes every time it starts up. Or maybe you can’t download the app from Play Store. This is not necessarily caused by a virus. So don’t panic! Check out our list of common Android problems and how to fix them. If none of these tips fix your problem, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Did the problem start occurring after you downloaded some app or file?
  • Have you recently terminated apps from third-party sources (outside the Play Store)?
  • Are you tapping on an ad that downloads a file or app you don’t want?
  • Does the problem only occur when you run certain applications?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, there’s a good chance you have malware on your system. Luckily, you may be able to fix it without a factory reset.

How To Stay Safe From Android Virus

Google Play Protect is now a part of all Android devices. This is an internal security measure that scans the apps on your device and checks for malicious ones. No matter where you installed the app, Play Protect will see it. This means that you basically have an antivirus installed on your phone.

If you only install apps from Google Play, the chances of you picking up a phone virus are very small. Google scans all apps added to Google Play for malicious behavior and removes violators. While some slip through the cracks, you are very unlikely to install a virus app from the Play Store.

Installing from another source is completely different. Downloading apps from random websites, especially “cracked” apps (paid offers are provided for free), is a great way to pick up malware. If you choose to sideload an app, make sure you trust the location where you downloaded it.

However, this doesn’t mean every app on Google Play is useful. Fraudulent apps may take your money for free, and many free apps abuse phone permissions to steal your data. But that is a separate concern from Android viruses.

As on other platforms, common sense will help you avoid viruses. Don’t download from shady websites, try to avoid tapping ads, and keep an eye on app permissions.

Android Virus Removal App

The Play Store is home to dozens of Android virus removal apps. However, most of them are bloated and want you to pay for features you don’t need. However, there are a few that are worth using.

If you think you are infected with Android malware, it’s not a bad idea to install one of the apps below and scan it. You don’t have to save it afterwards if you follow the common sense tips above.

Malwarebytes

One of the most trusted names in desktop security, Malwarebytes also provides Android apps.

The free version scans your phone for malware and removes any threats it finds. It also has an audit feature for app permissions, so you can track what each one has access to. And also has no ads.

The Premium version for $12/year adds real-time detection and other features that most people don’t need. For a no-nonsense virus scanner and removal app for Android, this is your best choice.

Download: Malwarebytes Security (Free, subscription available)

Bitdefender Antivirus Free

Bitdefender is another solid virus removal app, mainly because it’s lightweight. Cloud scanning means there’s little impact on your device, and the app doesn’t detract from its core offering with a lot of annoying extras.

You’ll still see ads for upgrading to the full version, but if you can ignore them, this is a great app for a quick Android virus scan.

Download: Bitdefender Antivirus (Free)

Android Antivirus Apps to Avoid

These are just two of the many Android virus scanning apps, but you can ignore almost all the others. Offers from big companies like Avast, Norton, Avira, and the like are all full of junk and heavy on your system.
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Lots of packages in RAM booster and cleaning tools, which do more harm than good. And many of the functions they call are already built into Android. Browsers like Chrome already detect and block malicious websites. Google’s Find My Phone feature can find your lost phone. And you can manage app permissions yourself.

Security companies try to scare you into downloading their free apps for “security,” then ask you to upgrade to a paid version with lots of features you don’t need. Know that you should never pay for an Android antivirus app!

Manual Malware Removal in Android Safe Mode

Hopefully an antivirus scan should find and remove malware on your Android device. But if that doesn’t get the job done, then it becomes a manual step.

Just as Windows has safe mode, so does Android. And if your system has a virus, you should use it. Safe mode loads the OS without running any third party apps and disables them. This means you can find out if an app is causing the problem and safely remove it.

To enter safe mode if you can boot your phone normally:

  • Press and hold the Power button until you see the power menu.
  • Tap and hold Power off until you get a prompt to Reboot into safe mode.
  • Tap OK.
  • Wait for your phone to reboot. In the lower left corner, you will see the Safe mode watermark.

If your phone can’t boot normally due to infection, try these steps to boot dead phone to safe mode:

  • Press and hold the Power, Volume up, and Volume down buttons.
  • Once you see your phone logo appear, release the Power but continue holding down the Volume buttons.
  • You will see the Safe mode watermark at the bottom left once your device boots up.

Due to differences in hardware manufacturers, this may not work for every device. Try a quick Google search for your phone to find the safe mode combination if nothing else works.

Once you enter Safe Mode, go to Settings > Applications > Downloaded. On Android Oreo or later, go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all X apps.

Here, go to your app list and try to locate the malicious app. It might not stand out, but think back to when the problem with your phone started. Delete all the apps you installed around that time, and check if the apps you didn’t download are on the list.

To remove an app, tap on its name and select Uninstall on the info page to delete it. If that gets rid of it, reboot your phone normally (without entering Safe mode), and the phone virus should be gone.

If you can’t remove an app from this menu, it likely has Device Administrator access. To remove that access, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings > Security > Device Administrators (Settings > Security & location > Device admin apps on Oreo and later).
  • Find the app and tap the checkbox next to it.
  • Tap Disable when prompted.

Now you can go back to the list of apps and uninstall them as described above.

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