How to Remove a Virus from a Hard Drive

If you are wondering how to remove a virus from an external hard drive, you have come to the right place. Not only are viruses frustrating to deal with, but it can also be frightening, especially if it has the capability of stealing and using your personal information against you.

Viruses (the malware type) are invasive and nasty things, and if your hard drive has been infected, it can be challenging to safely delete the virus from the hard drive.

However, this does not mean that it is impossible.
If you are interested in learning more about hard drive recovery from a virus, this blog will tell you everything that you need to know about viruses, prevention, and how to remove them.

What is a Virus?

To put it simply, a virus is a type of malware (malicious software) that attaches itself to files and programs. True to its name, viruses spread by infecting (self-replicating) their code on other files and programs within the computer.

Nowadays, it is most commonly seen as an email attachment from unknown senders – once a user opens this attachment, the virus quickly spreads onto the computer.

In addition to this, viruses also spread via:

  • Website downloads
  • Shared drives
  • USB drives
  • Floppy disks (not common)

What a Virus Does

As mentioned previously, a virus attaches itself to a file or program on the computer. The virus will usually lie dormant until the user launches the specific program or file, allowing the virus to execute its malicious code.

As soon as the virus code is executed, the virus can infect computers on the same network. In the process, it can steal, corrupt, or even destroy data.

Computer viruses are known to:

  • Steal login credentials including passwords, emails, and usernames
  • Corrupt and/or overwrite files
  • Send spam emails
  • Hijack the computer
  • Impair the computer network
  • Erase data
  • Damage hard drives
  • And more…

As you can see, viruses can be dangerous, with the potential for cybercriminals to steal your personal and financial information for fraudulent purposes.

How to Tell if Hard Drive is Infected with Virus

So, how do you know if your hard drive has been infiltrated by a virus? There are several obvious signs that could indicate that your computer’s hard drive has been infected, including:

  • Missing or moved files and folders
  • Inability or issues with shutting down or restarting your computer
  • Frequent crashing
  • Constant and unexpected pop-up windows
  • Slow performance
  • Inability to download programs or update the computer
  • New or unexplained icons or toolbars
  • Internal fans whir loudly despite minimal activity on the computer
  • Emails randomly sent from your account

If you begin to notice any of the above with your computer, you might have an infected hard drive in your hands. If this is the case, it is important that you shut down your computer instantly and do not turn it back on until you know how to destroy the virus.

To prevent a virus on an external hard drive from corrupting your computer, we suggest disabling Autorun on your computer and ensuring that you use an antivirus program to scan the hard drive before allowing it to run.

How to Avoid Viruses from Infecting Hard Drive

Taking preventive measures to ensure that your hard drive does not become infected is key. Here are our top tips for preventing viruses from infiltrating your hard drive:

  • Do not click on random links
  • Do not open random email attachments, even from known contacts and especially from unknown senders
  • Do not click on pop-ups or ads on suspicious websites
  • Do not connect unknown hard drives to your computer
  • Only go on websites with reliable domains, such as .com, .org, .edu, etc.
  • Disable the Autorun feature when hard drives or other external drives connect to the computer
  • Scan hard drives before connecting them to a computer
  • Regularly check and scan your computer system using an antivirus software

By keeping the above safety precautions in mind, you can reduce the likelihood of your hard drive and computer being infected with a virus and compromising your files and data.

Removing Viruses from Hard Drive

The most important question remains: how can you remove the virus from a hard drive?

We outline a few ways below:

Using Command Prompt

This solution is ideal for external hard drives that have not yet corrupted the main computer system. Remember to disable Autorun before connecting the corrupt hard drive to the computer.

Here is a step-by-step process on how to use Command Prompt to try and remove the virus from your hard drive:

  1. Find Command Prompt (you can search for ‘cmd’ on the Windows Start menu), right-click on it, and click ‘Run as administrator’.
  2. Once this has opened, type in attrib -h -r -s /s /d x:\*.*
  3. Or: CHKDSK x:/f
  4. The letter of your drive should replace ‘x’, such as G – attrib -h -r -s /s /d G:\*.* or CHKDSK G:/f
  5. Then press Enter.
  6. Wait for the command to process and finish.
  7. Disconnect and reconnect the hard drive.

Please keep in mind that this might take some time for the command to be completed, and it is not guaranteed to solve the problem.

If these commands do not seem to fix the issue or the virus continues to live on the hard drive, it might be time to resort to wiping the hard drive clean.

Running an AntiVirus Program

If you have not tried already, it is worth attempting to run your antivirus software, such as iolo’s System Shield, to see whether it can identify and eliminate the virus from the hard drive. Once the virus has been eliminated, System Shield will prevent it from attempting another attack on your system again.

iolo's DriveScrubber

Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to eliminate a virus from a hard drive is to simply wipe the hard drive to remove the virus. Don’t mistake this for formatting the drive, however. While formatting is essentially the same concept, this does not guarantee that the virus is gone forever.

Instead, a hard drive virus cleaner like iolo’s DriveScrubber can help improve hard drive safety by deleting the virus, and permanently erasing data at your convenience.

With DriveScrubber, you can wipe your hard drive clean from any virus, restoring it to its original, like-new state before any data or virus was uploaded onto it. Using wiping methods developed for the government and military, you can count on DriveScrubber to successfully clean your hard drive from stubborn viruses that have been plaguing it.

Although you might lose data on the hard drive (you can use a data recovery program like iolo’s Search and Recover), you are given peace of mind that you can now freely connect and use your hard drive for your computer without fear of the virus spreading.

Defend Your Hard Drive Against Viruses with iolo

At iolo, our hard drive virus cleaner, DriveScrubber, is the perfect solution to wiping an external hard drive that is plagued with a virus, effectively eliminating the virus and erasing all corrupted files and data.

Combined with our antivirus products, you can keep your hard drive protected from future virus attacks that could threaten the files and data on your hard drive

For more information on our range of products or if you have any questions about our offerings, please contact the iolo team today.

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What is iolo's Whole Home License?

The Whole Home License® is iolo’s licensing policy that allows you to install and keep your software running on all of your compatible devices within the same home. Previously, users were allowed to install and license their iolo software simultaneously on a maximum of three PCs. Under the Whole Home License, a single activation key allows you to use your iolo software on all of your PCs, other than any PCs you use for business purposes. What you need to know about Whole Home Licensing

  • You, your spouse, and your relatives living within the same household may use the same license on any number of PCs that you own which are not used for business.
  • For full legal terms and conditions, see

To install your iolo product on additional PCs:

  1. On the additional computer, download the latest version of your iolo product. Choose from the list of downloads offered here.
  2. Follow the steps in the installation wizard, and enter the same Activation Key that you used to install on your original computer.

You can view the Activation Key on the original computer from within System Mechanic > red menu bar > key icon > Activation Key.