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

I had a virus on my computer which would not allow windows to activate, giving the error "the device is not ready". It also changed the program data, and users folder location in the registry. I reinstalled windows figuring it was something that I got from possibly browsing on a malicious website, but I was wrong. After reinstalling my programs (which I keep in a seperate partition to prevent me from having to have to re-download everything" i got the same symptoms again. Is there any virus search engine where I can type in my symptoms to determine what this virus is, and how to get rid of it?

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marked as duplicate by Moab, 8088, slhck, Nifle, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 16 '11 at 2:26

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2 Answers 2

If this behaviour is caused by a virus, then it is highly probable that your program files that were left on the partition are infected.

Your best option is to get a rescue disk you can boot from and run a complete scan of everything. If the virus can be removed it will, otherwise you'll get the option to delete infected files.

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I determined that the virus was on the backup partition, and I already did full system scans with multiple avs before I reset, but still nothing. –  Sean Oct 13 '11 at 3:00
    
Did you install the AV software or boot from it? If your PC is infected, then it can control what AV software can see. Booting from a certain non-infected source is the only way to be certain the virus is not active at the time of the scan (so don't use the same PC to download the software that has the problem). The description so far could be something other than a virus - device not ready can be a flakey network card. What did the Program Files location in the registry change to? –  Paul Oct 13 '11 at 3:07
    
So originally when I had bought the computer, it came preinstalled with windows 7, and all of bestbuy and HPs other "good stuff", and it had activated just fine. Then all of a sudden I got an error saying windows was not valid.. this was about 4 months later. At roughly the same time, program data changed to the D drive, and all of the users folders changed to the E drive. So I decided to do a clean install with original, clean, windows 7 installation disks (not recovery media) and after installing a few of my programs, the same thing happened again. but Ill try scanning from an uninfected os. –  Sean Oct 13 '11 at 3:18
    
I would treat these as two seperate symptoms. The moving of the Programs and Users folders is strange, but doesn't sound like virus activity. Did the content of the folders move, or was just the registry updated? Can you remember what apps you installed before it recurred? –  Paul Oct 13 '11 at 3:21
    
First off, i now have an error message saying, "Windows must be restored" "An unauthorized change was made to windows. You must reinstall or restore windows system files to activate". The reason I am treating these two sypmtoms as one is that I find it a bit more than coincidental that these two symptoms appeared at almost the exact same time, not once, but twice. –  Sean Oct 13 '11 at 3:33

Since you are willing to do a reinstall and don't have any data to worry about at this point that is the best option. It is best to use the fdisk utility from command line before you actually start the reinstall. The fdisk utility will allow you to remove all partitions and format the hard drive before doing the install. I have seen viruses that are in the MBR and are still causing problems after reinstall.....most recently one that caused Windows Update not to work. I have even went as far as using a utility like Kill Disk to zero write the hard drive before reinstall to make sure that everything is blank.

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I am probably going to wind up doing that anyways, but I would like to know what is causing this problem so that it does not happen again after I reinstall. –  Sean Oct 13 '11 at 3:42
    
The best chance of finding out for sure is to look at event logs when you are seeing the problem and look for errors or warnings that point to your problem. Sometimes these may seem to be unrelated but may be pointing to your problem so don't be afraid to look deep. Otherwise the only way to verify it is a virus is to get an AV program to find it and tell you what it is. OTL or HijackThis are going to have the best chance of finding everything but will take some research. –  Harold Larimer Oct 13 '11 at 3:46
    
Sorry, I meant the diskpart utility, not the fdisk utility listed above. –  Harold Larimer Oct 13 '11 at 21:05

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