A USB Pen drive infected with virus should be safely formatted to prevent spread of infection across the computer systems before using it. An effective Antivirus software could be used to scan and clean the infected files on the drive. But, such effective antivirus may be required to be purchased, installed and configured to scan a pen drive before using it, as freely available antiviruses may not have such options to scan the drive before accessing its data.
However, there is a free and inbuilt solution to clean such infected pen drive without the need of a Antivirus software. The solution is to format the USB drive safely which is infected by virus to prevent damage to the current system in which it is inserted and all other systems in which it may be inserted for transferring files. You may format the drive by right clicking on the drive icon in File Explorer and format it but the virus may still persist that’s why it is required to format the drive safely. Formatting a drive safely means that the executable files present on the system should not be able to execute before the process of formatting is completed. The formatting process deletes and re-creates all the tracks and sectors on a disk which removes all references to existing files on the disk and the files are no more accessible.
An Infected USB drive may contain virus in the form of executable files which may be set as Autorun. Thus, as soon as the infected pen drive is inserted in the system, the auto-executable files will execute and harm the system. They may even get copied on the system disks and would be re-copied on the pen drive after formatting. These virus files which if gets copied on system will infect other pen drives also which are inserted in that system.
Thus, the most important task is to forcefully prevent execution of any such files present on the drive after inserting and before formatting. To achieve this, the Autoplay option for USB devices should be turned off before inserting the drive in the system slot. The Autoplay option can be turned off in USB settings in control panel.
It is a good practice to keep Autoplay turned off in all computer systems. Also, any USB drive inserted in the USB slot should be scanned before opening.
You can watch the following video for practical demonstration of the process:
The above video shows the process followed in Windows 10, however, the same process would also be available in previous versions of Windows Operating System. The user should search for the USB Autoplay option in control panel of other versions and turn it off before inserting the infected USB pen drive in the system.
Caution: This process will delete entire data on the pen drive, thus, the user should ensure back up of data on the pen drive is available to the user. If data is crucial then the pen drive should be scanned through a effective Antivirus Software only to prevent any losses of data in files present on the drive, however, the antivirus may still not be able to recover and rectify the errors caused to the files on the drive.
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