Wednesday, December 14, 2011
You just gave your USB drive (pen drive) to one of your not-so-geeky friend, and just realized that your USB is now filled with varieties of viruses, that are waiting to attack your computer as soon as you plug in your USB. If you are caught in such an helpless situation, and want to clean up/format your USB without letting the virus affect your computer, then here are some tips you should follow.
1. Disable AutoPlay (Before Plugging in)
Autoplay lets the program in your USB drive or your CD Drive execute itself, by using a simple file “Autorun.inf”. If you want your computer to be safe from viruses, you should disable this right away. If you are using Windows Vista or 7, then you need not worry as Windows’ UAC will take care of it.
However, if you are on XP, In the Run Dialog box (Start>Run), type gpedit.msc and Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates >System (for Windows Vista/7 it is Windows Components>Autoplay Policies). Right click on Turn off Autoplay, and then click Properties and select Enabled and All drives. By doing so, you have a head start from your viruses.
2. Get an Anti Virus (After Plugging in)
If you don’t have an anti virus, you computer might already have been infected right now, let alone prevent the virus from the USB from infecting your computer.
There are a lot of free antiviruses available on the internet right now – from Avast (what I use) to Microsoft Security Essentials. If you want an anti-virus to scan only your USB drive, then I suggest you get a free copy of MalwareByte’s AntiMalware (which scans upon request, and doesn’t work like a conventional anti-virus – so you cant use this instead of your anti-virus). Microsoft’s own Scanner allows you to run a scan of selected drives.
3. Force Delete File/Format your USB Drive (After Plugging in)
After running a complete scan of USB drive, you notice that there may be (potential) files which looks suspicious. You try to delete them, but the file wont! You then try to format your USB drive, and it won’t! What do you do?
A nifty tool – Unlocker, comes to the rescue. This tool allows you to forcefully delete stubborn files that won’t delete by itself and also helps you format drives that refuse to do so under Windows. All you need to do is to right click on the file/drive that is problematic and select Unlocker – which tells you which process is using it, also giving you options on whether you would like to delete the file/format the drive , or just rename it.
Should you do this in Safe Mode?
One question you may ask is – should I do this after selecting the safe mode boot option? The answer is – NO. While it is not exactly compulsory to do this in the normal mode, I don’t recommend the safe mode because certain anti-viruses have problems fetching updates in safe modes – since they don’t start along with windows.
However, if you are paranoid, you should use the Safe Mode, but before doing that – install and update the virus scanners.