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A virus infected storage media is a hub of problems that vary from the drive being inaccessible, to files getting corrupt and permanently deleted from the drive. It just doesn’t end there. The infected drive can further damage a PC when connected—especially those without or outdated and free anti-virus/malware protection.
A virus/Trojan or malware such as Ransomware can hide, delete, encrypt, and modify the critical files stored on your hard drive or flash drive. And may further infect the entire system, as Ransomware is known for spreading itself relentlessly.
A virus or malware can also alter software functionalities and corrupt the software, which can also lead to data loss. In fact, software corruption accounts for 32% data loss cases worldwide (refer infographics below).
So to start with, the first and foremost tip to prevent drive or data corruption and data loss is to install a reliable anti-malware/virus protection updated with the latest malware and virus definitions.
Further, we have discussed a few more tips—proven tips—to salvage data from virus infected storage media and steps to prevent such incident in the future.
In U.S., 140,000 hard drives fail due to logical or physical damage every week (Source: Small Business Trends)
- 1 4+1 Proven Tips to Recover Data from a Virus Infected Storage Media
- 1.1 1. Stop using the Drive — To avoid further damage to Data, Drive, and the System
- 1.2 2. Scan with Reliable Anti-Virus or Anti-Malware scanner— To Scan and Remove the Virus from the Infected Drive
- 1.3 3. Run Command Prompt—To Unhide Files Hidden by the Virus or the Trojan
- 1.4 4. Utilize a Data Recovery Software — To Recover Deleted, Modified, and Encrypted Data from the Infected Drive
- 1.5 Additional Tips while using an External Storage Media:
4+1 Proven Tips to Recover Data from a Virus Infected Storage Media
We have already mentioned the first tip at the beginning of this blog post. Below are the 4 more proven tips to salvage data from a virus infected storage media such as USB drives, external hard drives, SSDs, SD cards, and more.
1. Stop using the Drive — To avoid further damage to Data, Drive, and the System
When a drive is infected with a virus, prevent or minimize its usage. The more you use or try to read/write files from/to the affected disk, the more damage you may do to your system, drive, and the data contained in the infected media.
A virus starts working as soon as it connects to the PC. If the drive is kept disconnected, the virus remains inactive. Follow the tips mentioned below to recover your data from an infected storage drive and rid of the drive from the infectious virus, Trojan, or malware.
2. Scan with Reliable Anti-Virus or Anti-Malware scanner— To Scan and Remove the Virus from the Infected Drive
To get rid of the virus, which has infected your storage media, use a program such as Windows Defender. It’s an inbuilt anti-virus and anti-malware protection in Windows 10 that can help you remove the virus. Technically, the tool quarantines the pesky viruses, Trojans, and malware.
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However, we suggest you to get a more reliable protection—most probably with a premium subscription. That’s because free antivirus protection hardly updated and may not be able to safeguard your system and drives against new viruses, malware, or ransomware.
3. Run Command Prompt—To Unhide Files Hidden by the Virus or the Trojan
Connect your infected hard drive, thumb drive, memory card or any USB storage media to PC. Then follow these steps:
1. Press Windows + S and type: cmd
2. Right click on Command Prompt and click ‘Run as administrator’
3. Type: chkdsk /f /r X: and hit ‘Enter’
Replace letter X: with the drive letter of your connected hard drive, SD card, thumb drive, or SSD which is infected.
4. After the scan and repair process is done, type X: in the same command prompt window and hit ‘Enter’.
Again, replace X: with the drive letter of your device where you lost or deleted files.
5. Then, type: attrib -s -h -r /s /d *.* and press the ‘Enter’ key
4. Utilize a Data Recovery Software — To Recover Deleted, Modified, and Encrypted Data from the Infected Drive
There are several data recovery software available online, but only a few of them are effective when it comes to recovery from an infected drive.
However, a few reliable data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery, Power Data Recovery, and Recuva can recover data from a corrupt and infected storage media. These software facilitate deep scan, which helps restore data even from a severely corrupt hard drive and flash drive.
The deep scan facilitated by these software uses file signature-based scanning mechanism, which makes them more effective when it comes to salvaging data from an infected storage media.
Just install the software, as some of them are free to download and try. Then with the following 3-simple steps, restore data from any storage media whether it’s corrupt, formatted or infected.
- Select what data you want to recover
- Choose the infected storage drive for deep scan
- Select the files you wish to recover from the scan results and save them at your desired location
Additional Tips while using an External Storage Media:
1. Always safely remove storage drive before unplugging to avoid drive or data corruption
2. If Windows prompts you to scan the drive for errors, run it. This usually occurs when the drive is removed without proper ejection
3. Turn ON the real-time protection to keep the system safe from an infected external storage media
4. Keep backup of your critical files—one local, another on the cloud
While the tips we mentioned in the post can help you salvage data from a virus infected drive, you can avoid such occurrences at the first place with adequate virus and malware protection. Data loss is prominent and can happen due to several factors. Virus and malware infections are one of the primary cause as discussed in the beginning of this post.
So either use Windows Defender program or get a reliable protection against malware, Ransomware, and viruses. Further, you can always use a data recovery software if the drive becomes RAW, gets corrupt or files are damaged due to virus or malware infection.
Software such as the one we discussed—Stellar’s windows data recovery—can help you get back the data from such virus-infected drives in usable and integrated form. The software uses a unique deep scan algorithm that gets back data even from a severely corrupt, formatted, and reformatted the drive.