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Last year my Dell laptop caught some pretty nasty viruses; I saved all my important stuff on an external hard drive. In an unrelated turn of events, I replaced my Dell with a Mac and have been able to retrieve data from the hard drive without trouble.

The problem is, I'm sure the hard drive has a few lingering viruses and I really don't want to infect any more PCs with it. I was planning to reformat it anyway, but I'd like to be able to save my files. Would transferring those files to my Mac and then scanning them for Windows viruses before throwing them back onto the newly reformatted hard drive be enough?

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4 Answers 4

You can never be too sure. But it will help. I use ClamXav on OS X. Another thing you could is to browse the contents of the drive using the Terminal. That way you will be able to quickly catch files that may look out of place. I often do this when I have to plug-in a USB that has been used on a Windows system: I plug it either on my laptop running Linux or my MacBook, and take a peek at the contents via the shell.

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AVG offer a live cd that can be used to remove most viruses. What I would be tempted to do though is boot into a live ubuntu session, then get everything you want off of the disk and format it completely.

Of course, it does depend on the size of the HD and the number of files, but just throwing it out there.

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Ya use the avg live cd, its nice an quick. then you can take off the data on your mac and format –  thegreyspot May 8 '10 at 5:32

Use the aforementioned ClamXav tool to scan the files you wanted to keep, copy them to your Mac, and wipe the drive. Done and done.

There's no need to go about scanning the Windows folder using a live CD or anything like that if you're not trying to recover the system.

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If you're talking about those viruses that run upon inserting your drive into the (Windows) computer, then you just need to look out for autorun.inf (sometimes hidden) in the root of your drive, in Mac.

Open the file (its a text file) and see where its Open= and other relevant actions point to, and from there you can locate the viruses. Delete all relevant folders, then delete the autorun.inf file. Clear your Trash and you're done.

I always do this to "disinfect" thumbdrives.

(Schools are perfect environments for spreading computer viruses...)

Edit: Oh yeah the theory behind this is because Mac doesn't follow autorun.inf actions - its a Windows thing. (Which is another reason Mac is so much more secure than Windows)

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