How to safely clean your computer from viruses and recover your files

There are many different types of malware, one easier to remove than others. Sometimes an antivirus can erase a drive completely to clean the computer of viruses. That doesn’t always work, but sometimes a full system wipe is the only solution. In such a situation, the possibility of data loss is very high. In these cases, we are faced with a great dilemma: we need to clean and disinfect the computer, but we do not want to lose our important documents.

For these reasons, we have created this entry to help you remove viruses from your PC, but first copy files safely to avoid loss of information.

How to remove viruses from my infected PC?

There are two methods you can use to save files from an infected drive. However, they all involve cleaning your computer of viruses before you start copying files from the infected disk to a clean drive.

  • Use an antivirus on a startup disk to scan and clean the drive before recovering files.
  • Remove the unit and connect it to a second machine for cleaning and copying.

You don’t want to improvise with a malware infection, or even worse, ransomware. You could start copying non-operating system files to a clean disk. However, since malware can attack and hide in a wide range of locations, it would be unwise to risk reinfection after having copied everything to another location.

Therefore, it is better to take a more preventive approach and play it safe. Follow one of the two methods below.

1. Use an antivirus boot disk

An antivirus boot disk is a complete antivirus package that comes in the form of a Live CD or Live USB. A Live CD / USB is an environment where you can boot without using the host operating system. For example, your infected computer may have Windows 10 installed, but the antivirus startup disk does not interact with Windows 10 in any way.

Since the antivirus startup disk does not interact with Windows or any other host operating system, no malicious files are activated. In contrast, if you try to run an antivirus or antimalware from the affected operating system, there is a high probability that the malware will defend itself.

2. Clean the hard drive from another PC

The second option, although less advisable, is to remove the drive from the infected system, and connect it to an alternate system for scanning and cleaning. In theory, if you have a powerful antivirus or antimalware package installed on the second machine; And most importantly, don’t interact or run any files on the infected drive, you can scan it without any inconvenience.

There are a few things you need to make this approach work:

Antivirus or Antimalware

The first is a strong and up-to-date antivirus or antimalware package. We have already written about the best free antivirus in this post.


It is also recommended to use a sandbox tool during the data transfer process. A sandbox creates a temporary environment within your operating system. If there is a problem during the process, such as the malware being activated, you can close the sandbox to remove everything inside.

For that,  Shadow Defender  is an excellent option. You can use it free for 30 days, which is ideal if you only have one system to transfer data from. If you prefer to use it permanently, a lifetime license will cost you around $ 35.

The idea with Shadow Defender is that you activate it, creating a virtual restore point. From then on, you can safely play with anything on your system because once you reboot, Shadow Defender will remove any changes from the system. In case malware is activated on the infected drive, the combination of antivirus and restart to restore the sandbox tool will keep you safe.

There are also Shadow Defender alternatives available for macOS and Linux. On Mac there is  faroni  and  Smart Shield, and on Linux there is  OFRIS.

Do not connect to the network

Another important point is to disconnect the clean machine from the Internet before copying or scanning the infected files. Any malware that requires a network connection will stop working. But before disconnecting from the Internet make sure you have up-to-date virus definitions, ready to catch any malicious activity.

Infected system cleaning checklist

To recap, for a successful cleaning of an infected disk you need:

  • Download, install and update an antimalware suite
  • Download, install, and update a sandbox tool
  • Disconnect the system from the network

After having prepared these points you can connect the potentially infected drive, scan it, clean it and, hopefully, free yourself from the malware.

Clean your computer from viruses

The most difficult thing after a malware infection is to be sure if the system is really clean. Even if you scan it with various antivirus tools, there is always the possibility that they might miss something. Fortunately, most users come across common forms of malware. To avoid the risk of infection to the maximum, it is not enough to have the best antivirus installed on your system. This must be up to date with the latest virus definitions. But above all, you must be aware of phishing attempts and other malware attacks.

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