Hard Drive Diagnostic is a fake computer optimization and analysis program that displays false information so that it can scare you into thinking that there is something wrong with your computer. Hard Drive Diagnostic is installed via Trojans that display fake error messages on the infected computer. These messages will state that there is something wrong with your computer's hard drive in order to scare you into purchasing the program. This infection has also been found to be installed with the TDSS rootkit. This rootkit can redirect Google searches as well as block access to security sites. The removal instructions below will contain information on how to remove the TDSS rootkit as well.
Once installed, Hard Drive Diagnostic will be configured to start automatically when you login to Windows. Once started, it will display numerous error messages when you attempt to launch programs or delete files. It will then prompt you to scan your computer with the program, which will state that there are a variety of errors that it cannot fix until you purchase the program. If you attempt to use the so-called defragment tool it will state that it needs to run in Safe Mode and will then show a fake Safe Mode background. As this program is a scam do not be scared into purchasing the program when you see its alerts.
To further make it seem like your computer is not operating correctly, Hard Drive Diagnostic will also make it so that certain folders on your computer display no contents. When opening these folders, such as C:\Windows\System32\, instead of seeing the normal list of files it will instead display a different folder's contents or make it appear as if the folder is empty. They do this to make it seem like there is further corruption on your hard drive.
HardDriveDiagnostic also attempts to make it so you cannot run any programs on your computer. If you attempt to launch a program it will terminate it and state that the program or hard drive is corrupted. It does this to protect itself from anti-virus programs you may attempt to run and to make your computer unusable so that you will be further tempted to purchase the rogue. The messages that you will see when you attempt run a program are:
Windows detected a hard drive problem.
A hard drive error occurred while starting the application.
Windows cannot find notepad. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again. To search for a file, click the Start button, and then click Search.
After you close this alert you will be presented with another alert that pretends to be for a program that will attempt to fix your hard drive.
Windows Disk Diagnostics will scan the system to identify performance problems.
Start or Cancel
If you press the Start button, it will pretend to scan your computer and then state that there is something wrong with it. This message is:
Windows Disk Diagnostics
Windows detected a hard disk error.
A problem with the hard drive sectors has been detected. It is recommended to download the following sertified <sic> software to fix the detected hard drive problems. Do you want to download recommended software?
These are just further alerts trying to make you think your computer has a serious hard drive problem. It should be noted that if you attempt to run a program enough times it will eventually work.
When you perform the scan or use the fake defragmenter it will state that there are numerous problems on your computer, but that you first need to purchase it before it can fix any of them. Some examples of the fake problems it detects on your computer are:
Requested registry access is not allowed. Registry defragmentation required
Read time of hard drive clusters less than 500 ms
32% of HDD space is unreadable
Bad sectors on hard drive or damaged file allocation table
GPU RAM temperature is critically high. Urgent RAM memory optimization is required to prevent system crash
Drive C initializing error
Ram Temperature is 83 C. Optimization is required for normal operation.
Hard drive doesn't respond to system commands
Data Safety Problem. System integrity is at risk.
Registry Error - Critical Error
While HardDriveDiagnostic is running it will also display fake alerts from your Windows taskbar. These alerts are designed to further scare you into thinking that your computer has an imminent hardware failure. The text of some of the alerts you may see include:
Damaged hard drive clusters detected. Private data is at risk.
Hard Drive not found. Missing hard drive.
RAM memory usage is critically high. RAM memory failure.
Windows can't find hard disk space. Hard drive error
Windows was unable to save all the data for the file \System32\496A8300. The data has been lost. This error may be caused by a failure of your computer hardware.
A critical error has occurred while indexing data stored on hard drive. System restart required.
The system has been restored after a critical error. Data integrity and hard drive integrity verification required.
Just like the fake corruption messages and fake scan results, these alerts are only designed to scare you into purchasing the program.
As you can see, the warnings issued by this program are all fake, and once you realize that, the alerts become more of a nuisance rather than a concern. Therefore, do not purchase Hard Drive Diagnostic for any reason, and if you already have, please contact your credit card company and state that the program is a computer infection and a scam and that you would like to dispute the charge. To remove this infection and related malware, please follow the steps in the guide below.
Self Help Guide
If you are uncomfortable making changes to your computer or following these steps, do not worry! Instead you can get free one-on-one help by asking in the forums.
- Print out these instructions as we may need to close every window that is
open later in the fix.
- It is possible that the infection you are trying to remove will not allow
you to download files on the infected computer. If this is the case, then
you will need to download the files requested in this guide on another computer
and then transfer them to the infected computer. You can transfer the files
via a CD/DVD, external drive, or USB flash drive.
- Before we can do anything we must first end the processes that belong to
Hard Drive Diagnostic
so that it does not interfere with the cleaning procedure. To do this, please
download RKill to your desktop from the following link.
RKill Download Link - (Download page will open in a new tab or browser window.)
When at the download page, click on the Download Now button labeled iExplore.exe download link. When you are prompted where to save it, please save it on your desktop.
- Once it is downloaded, double-click on the iExplore.exe
icon in order to automatically attempt to stop any processes associated with
Hard Drive Diagnostic
and other Rogue programs. If you cannot find the iExplore.exe icon that you
downloaded, you can also execute the program by doing the following steps
based on your version of Windows:
For Windows 7 and Windows Vista, click on the Start button and then in the search field enter %userprofile%\desktop\iexplore.exe and then press the Enter key on your keyboard. If you Windows prompts you to allow it to run, please allow it to do so.
For Windows XP, click on the Start button and then click on the Run menu option. In the Open: field enter %userprofile%\desktop\iexplore.exe and press the OK button. If you Windows prompts you to allow it to run, please allow it to do so.
Please be patient while the program looks for various malware programs and ends them. When it has finished, the black window will automatically close and you can continue with the next step. If you get a message that RKill is an infection, do not be concerned. This message is just a fake warning given by Hard Drive Diagnostic when it terminates programs that may potentially remove it. If you run into these infections warnings that close RKill, a trick is to leave the warning on the screen and then run RKill again. By not closing the warning, this typically will allow you to bypass the malware trying to protect itself so that rkill can terminate Hard Drive Diagnostic . So, please try running RKill until the malware is no longer running. You will then be able to proceed with the rest of the guide. If you continue having problems running RKill, you can download the other renamed versions of RKill from the rkill download page. All of the files are renamed copies of RKill, which you can try instead. Please note that the download page will open in a new browser window or tab.
Do not reboot your computer after running RKill as the malware programs will start again.
- At this point you should download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, or MBAM, to scan your computer for any any infections or adware that may be present. Please download Malwarebytes from the following
location and save it to your desktop:
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Download Link (Download page will open in a new window)
- Once downloaded, close all programs and Windows on your computer, including
- Double-click on the icon on your desktop named mb3-setup-1878.1878-188.8.131.529.exe.
This will start the installation of MBAM onto your computer.
- When the installation begins, keep following the prompts in order to continue
with the installation process. Do not make any changes to default settings
and when the program has finished installing, make sure you leave Launch
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware checked. Then click on the Finish button. If MalwareBytes prompts you to reboot, please do not do so.
- MBAM will now start and you will be at the main screen as shown below.
Please click on the Scan Now button to start the scan. If there is an update available for Malwarebytes it will automatically download and install it before performing the scan.
- MBAM will now start scanning your computer for malware. This process can
take quite a while, so we suggest you do something else and periodically
check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
- When MBAM is finished scanning it will display a screen that displays any malware that it has detected. Please note that the infections found may be different
than what is shown in the image below due to the guide being updated for newer versions of MBAM.
You should now click on the Remove Selected button to remove all the seleted malware. MBAM will now delete all of the files and registry keys and add them to the programs quarantine. When removing the files, MBAM may require a reboot in order to remove some of them. If it displays a message stating that it needs to reboot, please allow it to do so. Once your computer has rebooted, and you are logged in, please continue with the rest of the steps.
- You can now exit the MBAM program.
- This infection family will also hide all the files on your computer from
being seen. To make your files visible again, please download the following
program to your desktop:
Once the program has been downloaded, double-click on the Unhide.exe icon on your desktop and allow the program to run. This program will remove the +H, or hidden, attribute from all the files on your hard drives. If there are any files that were purposely hidden by you, you will need to hide them again after this tool is run.
- Finally, as many rogues and other malware are installed through vulnerabilities
found in out-dated and insecure programs, it is strongly suggested that you
use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs on your computer. A tutorial
on how to use Secunia PSI to scan for vulnerable programs can be found here:
How to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs using Secunia Personal Software Inspector
Your computer should now be free of the HardDriveDiagnostic program. If your current anti-virus solution let this infection through, you may want to consider purchasing the PRO version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.