Wiping the Hard Drive
Computer virus removal tools are usually effective in cleaning computers of viruses, but sometimes it’s more convenient to reinstall the OS when a virus has completed trashed the OS. In instances where the entire computer is corrupted, using the ‘nuclear option,’ of wiping the hard drive clean, may be the best option. Here are three ways of doing so.
System Restore – Most computers that were built in recent times can be rolled back to the factory defaults using the “System Restore" files that are stored on a hidden partition, or by using an included Restore CD. As with other options, for wiping a hard drive, this option will remove any file, program, or configuration change that was made to the system since it left the manufacturer.
Fortunately, some system restore programs will offer an option to leave users files intact while they attempt to reset the OS and other factory defaults. The drawback to using this approach is that it leaves the computer vulnerable to be re-infected by the virus if the user files themselves are also infected.
Hard drive Image overwrites – In cases when an image of the hard drive or partition had previously been saved, using the saved image to overwrite the current one can easily solve the virus infection issue. This option involves using a software-cloning tool to create a 100% identical copy of a partition or hard drive as a backup/data recover measure. The advantage to using this option is that it preserves all user files that were saved in that image.
However, any change that was made to the files, since the image was created, will be lost. Also, any problem that had existed at the time the image was created, including having virus-infected files, will be reintroduced after the image is used to overwrite the current installation.
Hard Drive Reformat – If a clone image or system restore option isn’t available, the manual nuke option can always be attempted. It involves reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling the OS. Like the other options, all data and files that exist on the drive, or partition being formatted, will be lost.