A Tip for cleaning up an infected PC



There’s a joke that many people bring out when new Windows viruses hit big…. it goes along the lines of, “download a fix here” and the link points to a knoppix linux livecd download, or a Mandriva download disk, fedora/etc… Some say linux isn’t affected by as many viruses because it lacks market share, I would point out that server market share (take a look at how many linux web servers there are…) would seem to tip the scales a bit, but that’s not the point of this post. What is the point is this…. When you have a Windows pc that is infested what you should do is disconnect from the internet. The problem is, that typically prevents you from getting the tools you need to fix the machine.


If you’re lucky enough to be on a network with multiple machines then you’ll probably have ways to work around this problem. For me, many times this means downloading, burning to cd and then running antivirus/spyware cleaners/etc. It is possible to use a linux boot disc for the same purpose though. This is also a route I’ve used when cleaning up an “isolated” pc connected to the internet. Booting from the linux livecd means that you are not running the infected programs on the existing hard drive. You can then use the livecd to browse the internet for specific fixes for your problem, or download fixes directly to the affected hard drive (if it’s fat32), or burn a cd directly there, (or copy to external memory card of some sort.)

The cd that I built for my own usage had clamantivirus on there as well, in the boot process I had it connect for updates so that I could at least let it scan the drive for bugs and identify what I was facing. The only problem I’ve seen with using a bootcd to quarantine or delete viral files is the following…. what if Outlook Express has a folder with an infected email? The whole folder get’s quarantined. Also, registry entries don’t get cleaned up like they would with a native virus scanner. It can be useful at least to know what bug(s) you’re dealing with. So, even if you don’t plan to move to linux it might pay to test out a few livecds and become familiar with them as Windows support tools.

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