Let’s face it, computer viruses, trojans and other forms of malware are a fact of life, and regardless of how carefully you try to avoid them there is a good chance that your PC will become infected sooner or later.
Most of these pieces of malicious code can be quickly removed with a normal virus scan and cleanup, but some infections are so insidious that they are difficult to detect and remove.
Even worse, some strains of malware even render your PC incapable of connecting to the Internet in order to download an updated virus definition file – or even starting up at all. That’s why you need a plan “B”: an emergency virus removal USB thumb drive.
Creating an emergency thumb drive is easy. All you really have to do is purchase an inexpensive USB thumb drive (a small one in the range of 2 to 4 gigabytes will work fine) and load it up with a couple of effective malware removal programs. I recommend a couple in particular because they work extremely well and they don’t have to be “installed” – which means they can run directly from the USB drive.
Creating your emergency malware removal USB drive
1 – Purchase a thumb drive that will be dedicated just to this purpose. Of course if you already have one lying around the house that’s fine, but make sure it works well!
2 – Download Comodo Cleaning Essentials and copy it into a new folder on the USB drive.
2 – Do the same for Norman Malware Cleaner.
3 – Label your new thumb drive so that you’ll know not to use it for any other purpose.
4 – Make sure you keep the programs on your emergency thumb drive up to date with the latest versions of the software (check regularly with the download pages listed above).
Removing malware with your emergency USB thumb drive
1 – At the first sign that your computer has been infected, shut the system down immediately.
2 – Plug your emergency thumb drive into your PC.
3 – Boot your PC into “Safe Mode with Networking”. (Instructions available here.)
4 – Once Windows has booted into Safe Mode, navigate to the USB thumb drive and run Comodo Cleaning Essentials. Run a “Full” scan. Once the scan has been completed, follow the instructions on the screen to remove any infections found.
5 – Repeat step 4 with Norman Malware Cleaner.
6 – Download, install and run the free version of Malwarebytes and have it remove any malware found during the “Full” scan.
7 – Finally, update and run your normal anti-virus program.
This probably seems like a long, drawn out process, and it is. But it is also a very necessary one. No single anti-malware program is capable of finding every possible infection, but running scans with multiple antivirus apps is a very effective method of ridding your PC of all the bad pieces of code that might reside on the hard drive.