Your decision as to what action to take should be made by reading and asking yourself the questions presented in the "When should I re-format?
" and What Do I Do?
links previously provided. As I already said, in some instances an infection may leave so many remnants behind that security tools cannot find them and your system cannot be completely cleaned, repaired or trusted. Wiping your drive, reformatting
, and performing a clean install of the OS or doing a factory restore with a vendor-specific Recovery Disk or Recovery Partition
removes everything and is the safest action
but I cannot make that decision for you.
Should you decide to reformat or do a factory restore due to malware infection, you can back up all your important documents, personal data files, photos to a CD or DVD drive, not a flash drive or external hard drive as they may become compromised in the process. The safest practice is not to backup
any executable files (*.exe), screensavers (*.scr), autorun (.ini) or script files (.php, .asp, .htm, .html, .xml ) files because they may be infected by malware. Avoid backing up compressed files (.zip, .cab, .rar) that have executable files inside them as some types of malware can penetrate and infect .exe files within compressed files too. Other types of malware may even disguise itself by adding and hiding its extension to the existing extension of file(s) so be sure you look closely at the full file name. Then make sure you scan the backed up data with your anti-virus prior to
to copying it back to your hard drive.
If your CD/DVD drive is unusable, another word of caution if you are considering backing up to an external usb hard drive as your only alternative. External drives are more susceptible to infection and can become compromised in the process of backing up data
. I'm not saying you should not try using such devices but I want to make you aware of all your options and associated risks so you can make an informed decision if its worth that risk.
Again, do not back up any data with the following file extensions: exe, .scr, .ini, .htm, .html, .php, .asp, .xml, .zip, .rar, .cab as they may be infected.
i have not used my pc for email/banking/etc. after it's infected... should i still assume my accounts being compromised?
Yes. All passwords should be changed immediately. You should consider them to be compromised.