Saturday, June 4, 2011

Do You Need to Reinstall Windows to Remove a Virus?

I have seen this on more than few websites that have how to’s on removing viruses.  They claim that in order to completely remove a virus you need to format the hard disk and reinstall Windows.  Technically speaking this is true; but only if you want to remove every stinking file, code, and modification that the virus place on your system.  If you are that paranoid about the virus leftovers; then I first suggest if you have a full system backup that you use that before you go and wipe your system out.

In most cases though you do not need to reformat your hard drive or reinstall Windows.  A few left over registry entries or an unimportant file or two are not going to hurt your system.  This is very similar to uninstalling a legitimate program, the uninstaller never gets everything there is usually always something left somewhere, even if is just a shortcut or a registry entry.

Now of course there is one exception to this and that is the rootkit.  If you read my last post you know that a rootkit is one of the absolute worse types of viruses for being able to hide itself.  In my years of removing viruses I have only had one case of a rootkit that required reformatting the the hard drive to be removed.  This was from a client who’s computer had been hacked and was being used for malicious attacks against other computers.

1 comment:

  1. In some cases, you even have to reformat your hard drive. Sadly, viruses can be so destructive that you have to go to such lengths.

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