Safest way to transfer files off infected machine

By gaz77 ยท 6 replies
May 13, 2010
  1. Hi,

    I've been trying without success to remove a google redirect virus off my laptop.

    I found your forum, and I plan to follow your 8 step process. However, I read your advice about re-formatting the system, and given that I use the laptop for work, just removing the virus probably isn't safe enough.

    As the laptop was due for retiral anyway, I've decided to bring forward the purchase of a new one.

    However, I need to take files off the old laptop, but I'd like to reduce the risk of bringing anything malicious with me. What's the safest way to do this? Should I just copy them to a memory stick, or am I ok to transfer files over the network?
    I do have files backed up on an external drive and DVDs, but I think the machine was already infected by the time the last backups were run.

    Thanks in advance
  2. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

    Go through the 8 step process, and then make a fresh backup.

    Since the backup is infected, you'll have to clean up anyway.
  3. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    Welcome to TechSpot, gaz77. I'll help with the malware. I'm curious to know where you got this:
    First, we don't advise reformatting a system unless the system has been so badly infected that our attempts to clean it have failed.
    Second, the only malware infection that we do recommend reformatting and reinstalling right off is in the case of a Virut infection and there are particular reasons for that.
    Third, if a system is properly cleaned and the malware is found and removed, there is no reason to think that "just removing the virus probably isn't safe enough.[/b] We may suggest you change your passwords and monitor online financial transactions for a while in case the malware was of the 'password stealing' category.

    If you would like us to check your system for malware, we ask that you follow the preliminary virus and malware removal steps HERE.

    When finished, leave the logs for our review. We can see what's on the system and what further action to take.

    To address your question about transferring files:
    1. If you transfer files that are infected over a network, you will infect the network.
    2. If you have been backing up when the system is infected, those backups, if used, will reinfect the system if it has been cleaned.
    3. If you copy files to a flash drive and the files are infected, if the flash drive isn't already infected, it will likely become infected.

    It is most likely that 1, you have not used the correct cleaning programs and/or scans and 2. that you don't fully remove the malware when you make the attempt.

    I suggest you give malware cleaning a try- with people who know what they're doing!
  4. gaz77

    gaz77 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi Bobbye,

    The re-formatting advice was here:

    After reading that, it scared me off re-using the machine without a re-install. As I mentioned, the laptop was due for retiral anyway, so it just brought forward plans to replace it. I can keep working just now, but at some point I'll need to bring old files over to the new system.

    Before I found your forum, I had already done deep scans with the following products:
    Spybot Search and Destroy
    Malware Bytes
    Hitman Pro 3.5

    All that's been found so far are cookies.

    I'll try and complete the 8 steps over the next few days, as there's a few things there I haven't tried yet. I'll then post the logs here.

    I had just wondered if there was a quick safe way to transfer over some files I'd like to work on.

  5. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    gaz, there are some good points made in that thread. One of them is:

    Of course not! How could we get it back? So we try to advise what is needed for security 'layers' to prevent information from either going out or being accessed on the computer.

    But notice that the thread is 3 years old. Maybe it needs to be modified- I'll work on that. We have cleaning and scanning programs today that we didn't have 3 years ago- it use to be sufficient protection and scanning to just have AdAware and Spybot Search & Destroy. Most of us don't even use those programs any more, or recommend them as primary security.

    IF we told everyone who had Backdoor Trojans on their system to reformat, there would be no need for this forum. So we try out best to warn about having good security, to caution about changing passwords and monitoring online financial transactions that could be affected by the type of malware they have.

    And we warn people about the dangers of file sharing. Even though we document the reasons we recommend they remove these programs, some decide to continue with them anyway.

    FYI: there is no Google redirect virus! Almost all of the malware we see redirects the searches. And as I've said many times, since most people use Google to search, the name 'Google redirect virus' has stuck.

    But the choice to either try and clean or reformat is ultimately to be made by the computer owner. In spite of the fact that you have used 6 programs to try and remove the malware, none are the specific finding and cleaning programs we use with the exception of Malwarebytes. And as for Hitman, that is a bundle of programs that are free on the internet and most are being included without the author's permissions. If it appears that a system is so badly infected that attempts to clean it would further endanger the owner, we would then recommend the reformat/reinstall.

    I would like to mention something touched on in the referenced threads and that is work computers. We do get member posting here about their work computer because they don't want to bother with their IT person. I had someone like that a few days ago. After I looked at his logs and asked him about some of the entries, I told him I would not take the responsibility of cleaning the system because there was so much work-related content.
  6. ultragrey

    ultragrey TS Rookie Posts: 61

    I suggest you give malware cleaning a try- with people who know what they're doing!
    Reply With Quote
    I think that's the coolest advice. First learn practically from an experienced chap.
  7. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    If you have decided to reformat, please let me know so that I can close this thread. IF you still want help, please run the programs and leave the logs.
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