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Can Flash Drives become infected by Viruses?

By jbone
Jul 13, 2008
  1. Hello, everyone. I was wondering if anyone could answer this question for me?

    A really nasty virus has recently infected my computer. Now, my computer has a lot of important/valuable files on it. Unfortunately, I was not very attuned with viruses, and I never back up these files. I have access to My Computer and my main hard drive, however, and I want to get these files off of my computer before the pc dies and doesn't turn back on.

    So here is my question:
    Could this virus that I have on my PC place itself onto a USB Flash Drive, and then corrupt all the files that I put on the drive afterwards? Or even worse, destroy the drive? Or would the virus corrput the files while they are on my PC, so I would only be placing corrupt files on the drive?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this,

    P.S.: If there is anymore information that you would need to adequately answer this question, please let me know, I'll be happy to respond.
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Hi this question can get a bit tricky to answer, so I'll try to be very clear.

    Yes any Virus or Malware can be stored on a flash drive (ie you can copy a virus to it!)
    Flash Drives (although can store virus and malware) cannot be harmed by these files (either its data or the physical drive itself)
    But if the infected flash drive is put into a computer, the data and files on that system can be affected (including just the autostart of the flash drive causing this, see here)

    As for the corruption caused by Virus/Malware, yes data can be corrupted whilst it is being copied on to a USB flash drive (and visa versa) This depends on what the Virus is intended to do.

    Therefore your safest option, would be to remove any autorun ability of the flash drive (ie remove autorun.inf off the drive)
    And then scan the drive with an updated Antivirus product, before copying or moving files from it (or ideally to it !!)

    To help safe gaurd USB Flash Drives, most come with a little switch on the side to "write protect" the drive, which will stop any files being written (copied or moved) to the flash drive. (this helps people like me, when I plug my flash drive into a users infected computer)

    I hope that was clear.
  3. jbone

    jbone TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 40

    Thank you! I will install an antivirus program on the drive, delete autorun.inf, get my files on it, and then attempt to fix the PC.
    Thanks a lot!
  4. Bravo7

    Bravo7 TS Rookie

    I've experience what you went through too jbone, when i was trying to help my friend's laptop by backup his stuff.
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