What is a professional way to remove a virus from a computer?

don rees October 11, 2011

My laptop recently had a virus. I took it to a technician and he asked for the Toshiba Restore Disk, which I gave him. All he did then was to use the disk and take the computer back to where it was 4 years ago, all of my information was lost.

I could have done this myself and saved $150.00. I thought technicians could “clean” a virus infected computer, is this not so? Thank you!

  1. Aibek
    October 18, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Hey Don,

    Jeff, summarized everything we published on the topic pretty well. Make sure to check it out.


  2. Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    All above info are interesting.

    Some virus corrupts windows files, drivers...so even you succeed in locating and removing the virus you will not recover windows OS performance, still you will need to repair windows, and consider hard drive formating and windows fresh reinstal.

    Scan your computer with HijackThis  to find settings changed by spyware, malware, or other unwanted programs. 

    SARDU enables you to create a Multiboot UFD containing your basic essential Utilities, Antivirus, and Windows XP/7 Installers.

    ComboFix allows the manual removal of spyware infections . It 's a specialized effective cleaning tool, which is useful compared to other malware and spyware removers


    October 12, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Hello, what has worked for me all the time regardless of what the infections are:
    -- Download the tools needed for the job to a usb drive:
    Rkill to make malware inactive.  Try to download the Iexplorer version or the .com: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/anti-virus/rkill

    -- Download Malwarebytes and Superantispyware portable edition:

    -- Download the cd version of bit defender and/or Kaspersky rescue disk.  Also you can get ubuntu and run the live cd.  Once live cd is running, on application look for avasta antivirus and run it from there.  Once downloaded burn it to disk and in the case of ubuntu you can run it from a usb drive:

    -- Download tdsskiler:

    These tools can remove almost if not every instances of viruses/malware in your computer when run one after the other.  Of course, you will not be needing them for every instance of viruses.  Some viruses are really easy to get rid of and some others are really hard.  There is also two other softwares I use but they are reserved for really bad cases.  As for how to do the cleaning process, this is the order I use:

    -- Try to connect the usb drive and start up your computer.  Once computer is started transfer the rkill to your desktop.  You could also navigate to the usb drive folder where rkill is and double click on the rkill icon.
    -- Be patient and wait until rkill lets you know that is running.
    -- Most times, it will kill you desktop icons, so you will have to open programs by accessing the taksbar by pressing ctrl+alt+delete or ctrl+shift+escape
    -- Once rkill is running, the instances of malware would be rendered inactive until next restart. 
    -- Open task manager, click on File, New task and then click on the browse button.
    -- navigate to usb drive and run the tdsskiller program.  Scan computer and get rid of any entries found.
    -- navigate to usb drive and run the superantispyware portable version.  You do not have to update it, it is already updated.
    -- Run a full scan, and delete any entries found
    -- If you have icons, navigate to usb drive and install malwarebytes on your system.  Update malwarebytes and run a full scan.  When full scan is finished, delete any entries found and follow instructions. If it asks you to restart, restart computer.

    -- Your system should start find now, if there are still any symptoms, it is time to get rid of them.
    -- Make sure to start up your computer from cd/dvd, insert bit defender, kasperky disk and restart computer
    -- run a full scan and get rid of any entries found.
    -- when finished, restart computer
    -- make sure to clean history, cookies, cache, etc from your system by using disk cleanup of malwarebytes.

    -- Just to make sure, run full scans with superantispyware and malwarebytes.  If system is reported clean, make sure to delete all your restore points and create a new system restore.  Your system should be good now.

  4. Mike
    October 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    For me the only open question is whether you were warned or informed either verbal or written about possible data loss. If so, there is nothing wrong with what the technician did.

    I admit that re-installing is not the most convenient way especially if you lose all your data. But the reality is there is no 100% guarantee that a tool (or technician) is able to clean your system from a virus other then formatting the drive and any storage the virus could have written itself to (that includes external Hard Drives, USB drives, ...).

    Imagine you went home, installed some Anti Virus just to be alerted of an infection 5 seconds later. You probably would head right back to the technician to get your money back.

  5. Jeff Fabish
    October 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Yes, this is the unfortunate reality about most "professional" computer technicians. Rather than diligently attempting to remove the virus, they re-install everything. 

    There are plenty of guides written on this topic. I'm afraid the procedure is very different depending on the malware class (trojan, virus, worm, etc.) and on the specific object. Some malware will force you to deviate from the original procedure of removing malware, such as having to do cleanup in safe mode or even offline. 

    MajorGeeks - Malware Removal Guide Part 1 (Cleaning) | Part 2 (Removal)
    Comcast - Malware Removal Guide
    Bleeping Computer - Specific Malware Removal (for when you have the name of the malware)
    Maximum PC - Malware Removal Guide

    Remember, prevention is the best technique. Install an anti-virus and firewall (if your anti-virus doesn't come with it). You may additionally install an anti-malware/anti-spyware (again, only if your anti-virus doesn't include it). Be sure to configure your security tools as well, as sometimes installing them is not enough. See  our list of the best anti-viruses and firewalls. We also have a free guide on securing your computer

    If you get infected and find you are unable to remove the malware yourself, feel free to post here and we'll assist you!

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