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What is a Computer Virus?

A computer virus is a program that has the unique ability to replicate. Like biological viruses, computer viruses can spread quickly and are often difficult to eradicate. They can attach themselves to just about any type of file and are spread as files that are copied and sent from individual to individual.

Besides replication, some computer viruses have something else in common: a "damage routine", i.e. a piece of software, that can deliver the virus payload. While payloads may only display messages or images, they can also destroy files, reformat your hard drive, or cause other kinds of damage. If the virus doesn't contain a damage routine, it can still cause trouble by taking up storage space and memory, and downgrading the overall performance of your computer.

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