Question from Kendra: Hi, Rick. I need to ask you a computer question.
I know this sounds silly, but it’s a serious question and I really need to know the answer.
Can a virus that’s on one drive jump onto another drive?
I sometimes do part of my work at home and then take what I’ve done there back to the office on an external hard drive and work on it there as well.
The problem is my home computer got a virus and McAfee removed it. The virus was apparently on the C drive.
Is there any possible way that the virus could have jumped from the C drive onto the external drive? I really can’t afford to risk infecting my work computer with a virus.
Rick’s answer: Your question isn’t silly at all, Kendra. I’m glad you asked it.
And unfortunately, the answer is yes. Viruses can (and often do) spread from drive to drive.
When a virus manages to make its way onto your computer it can potentially infect any other drives that are connected to that computer – even USB hard drives, USB flash drives drives and flash media cards.
I recommend that you scan your external drive with at least two of the tools mentioned in this post. If it gets a clean bill of health from those scans you can feel fairly confident that the external drive is malware-free.
Bottom line: Viruses aren’t just confined to the drive they happen to land on. They can, and often do spread to other connected drives.
Bonus tip: This post explains one simple settings change that can help keep your PC malware-free.