With millions of Android devices now active, it’s no surprise that it has now become the number one target for viruses, malware, or popup ads. In this short guide, we’ll show you how to clean up your Google Pixel 3 XL if you think it’s been infected by a virus or malware.
If your Pixel has been showing one or more of the following items below, it’s most probably infected:
- popup ads won’t go away
- a message or prompt to install an app keeps showing up
- homepage of web browser app keeps changing, or the default search engine is changed without your knowledge
- presence of apps you don’t recognize
- alerts about virus or malware infection and asking you to scan your device
If you have any of these things in your Pixel 3 XL, it’s time that remove the virus or malware from the system.
How to remove popup ads and viruses from your Google Pixel 3 XL
If you think your Google Pixel 3 XL has a virus or malware, or if it keeps showing ads or popups, below are the steps that you can do to clean it.
Restart to safe mode
Ad pop ups and/or malware in most Android devices are usually spread by apps. If you are getting persistent popup ads or a prompt telling you to install an app, you may have installed a third party app that takes over the system so it constantly displays ads. To check, try booting the device to safe mode. There are two ways to boot safe mode on your phone.
To restart a Google Pixel 3 XL to safe mode while it’s ON:
- Press and hold your device’s power button.
- On your screen, touch and hold Power off.
- If needed, tap OK.
- Your device starts in safe mode. You’ll see “Safe mode” at the bottom of your screen.
To restart a Google Pixel 3 XL to safe mode while it’s OFF:
- Press your device’s Power button.
- When the animation starts, press and hold your device’s Volume Down button. Keep holding it until the animation ends and your device starts in safe mode.
- You’ll see “Safe mode” at the bottom of your screen.
- (To exit safe mode, just restart your device).
Remember, booting to safe mode won’t automatically tell you which of your apps is troublesome. You’ll need to observe the phone and check if popup ads remain. If they stop on safe mode but returns when phone is on normal mode, you can bet an app is the culprit. To identify which of your apps is causing the trouble, you should boot the phone back to safe mode and follow these steps:
- Boot to safe mode.
- Check for the problem.
- Once you’ve confirmed that a third party app is to blame, you can start uninstalling apps individually. We suggest that you begin with the most recent ones you added.
- After you uninstall an app, restart the phone to normal mode and check for the problem.
- If your Pixel 3 XL is still problematic, repeat steps 1-4.
Delete suspicious apps
If you remember the most recently installed app and you think it’s the one that may have taken over the system to force it to show apps, you should delete it first. To erase an app from your Google Pixel 3 XL:
- From a Home screen, touch and swipe up to display all apps.
- Tap Settings app icon.
- Tap Apps & notifications icon.
- Tap Right arrow icon and see all apps.
- Tap an app.
- Tap Uninstall.
- Tap OK to confirm.
Return all software settings back to their defaults
If you can’t seem to find the problem app, or if you have plenty of apps and you have no time to identify it, you can simply factory reset your Pixel 3 XL. This will erase all your personal data, customizations and more importantly, all downloaded apps. To do it:
- Create a backup of your personal data.
- Make sure to know the username and password for Google account in the phone.
- Open Settings app.
- Tap System.
- Tap Advanced.
- Tap Reset options.
- Tap Erase all data (factory reset) and then Reset phone. If needed, enter your PIN, pattern, or password.
- To erase all data from your phone’s internal storage, tap Erase everything.
- When your phone has finished erasing, pick the option to restart.
Since you’re dealing with a probable bad app, the problem may return if you reinstall the same set of apps after a factory reset. Be sure to screen the apps that you install after a reset to eliminate the problem. Only install apps from official sources and avoid those from dubious developers.
Use Play Protect
To minimize the chances of bad apps in your system, make sure that you enable Play Protect. This is a security feature in your Google Play Store app that scans your device for unwanted or bad apps or other security threats. Here’s how to turn Play Protect on:
- Open your Android device’s Google Play Store app.
- Tap Menu icon (three horizontal lines)
- Tap Play Protect.
- Turn on Scan device for security threats.
Use antivirus apps
Your phone is a tiny computer and can benefit greatly if you use preventive measures like installing an antivirus or security app. Try to visit the Play Store and get at least one antivirus app for your system. Antivirus apps can be free or not so it’s up to you to decide which one to get. Be sure to use only known or official security app. Some bad apps may be disguised as an antivirus app so be careful with your choice.
Also, make sure that you only have one antivirus app installed. Having more than one can cause severe performance problems. Pick one and stick with it.
Turn off app permission
If you keep getting popup ads that won’t go away when using a browser like Chrome, you can stop the notifications from a website. Here are the steps to do that:
- Open the Chrome app.
- Go to a webpage.
- To the right of the address bar, tap More icon (three dots).
- Tap Information icon (circle with an i).
- Tap Site settings.
- Under “Permissions,” tap Notifications.
- If you don’t see “Permissions” or “Notifications,” the site doesn’t have notifications turned on.
- Turn the setting off.
How to prevent viruses, popup ads, or malware on your Google Pixel 3 XL
Avoiding viruses in your Android device is about effort. You are the first line of defense of your phone so you are mostly to blame if your device gets infected. These are the important tips that you want to consider to avoid malware:
- Always do due diligence when installing an app. You want to check the reviews from other users or browse the internet for feedback for the app if you’re not sure whether it’s safe or not.
- Stick with official apps.
- Don’t click on links that shows you how to install an app. Use Play Store to install apps only.
- Avoid visiting known booby-trapped websites. Porn sites are notorious sources of viruses but so are innocent-looking ones.
- Avoid clever popups that warn you that your device is infected or has a virus. Majority of the time, popups of such types will run a code after you tap or click on it. Your phone will eventually be forced to download apps or other unwanted software.
- Minimize apps as much as possible. Truth be told, there’s no “free” app at all. Developing any app is expensive so developers will try to moneytize their products one way or another. One common way for bad developers to profit from their apps is by infecting a device so it constantly displays ads.