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What to do if my computer is infected by a virus or a malware?

I have taken a friends computer home and found via Spybot that it had been hit by a trojan that pretended to be a Microsoft security warning.

I can navigate around through directories and find lots of files via a console window, but the Windows Explorer in Vista gives the appearance that there is no software on the system at all.

In C: for example, Explorer only shows BOOTSECT.BAK and nothing else. No files or directories. I tried booting in safe mode and running check disk (chkdsk) hoping that it would read through files and repair the file list used by Explorer, whatever it is called.

But that didn't help.

Is there a way to fix this?

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marked as duplicate by slhck, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, 8088, studiohack Nov 18 '11 at 4:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Backup the data using a Linux Live CD and reinstall? – slhck Sep 20 '11 at 17:44
I would boot from a Linux distro and copy off important files, then nuke the disk and re-install windows clean. – Moab Sep 20 '11 at 17:45
In the meantime I'd say, try everything that is mentioned in our community FAQ: What to do if my computer is infected by a virus or a malware? – slhck Sep 20 '11 at 17:46

Have you tried alternatives to Windows Explorer? It might be Explorer specific attack. The boot records / drive might all be there but Explorer is being muzzled.

I am assuming you only want to see the files to back them up.

Try something like Free Commander, or other, see a list here:

They might show you the files.

Also if it works, I would recommend a full system format if that box is so far gone, don't waste hours trying to clean it up or fix it (there will be too much residual damage left over).

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It doesn't look like the attack was specific to explorer. I can get from one directory to another in a console if I know where I'm going - by, for example using a computer in good shape to find a windows sub-directory and than using cd. But the dir command shows nothing at all, even though the disks say they have plenty on them and the directory structure still exists to the extent that I can use it. – Roger F. Gay Sep 21 '11 at 9:47

Even if alternatives to Windows Explorer show you the files, I think you need to run a more powerful security product to scan your system for all kinds of malware. Also, a reinstall would be good.

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I was trying to avoid a reinstallation of windows, although that may be the only course of action that will solve the problem. My friend does not however have a windows back-up disk. Something similar happened to one of my lap-tops a few years ago and I ended up installing Linux. I don't think she wants that though. – Roger F. Gay Sep 21 '11 at 9:49
I'm pretty sure that Spybot found the offenders and eliminated them. I'm at the point of trying the repair the damage that was done. – Roger F. Gay Sep 21 '11 at 9:51
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Solution FoundSolution found:

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