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Recovering Data after a Virus Attack

A virus can find its way into your system fairly easy if you’re not alert when online. All it takes is opening a suspicious file or visiting a dodgy website that installs malware. Although there are many virus protection programs available download, even these don’t offer one hundred percent total security. It’s always best to have your wits about you; for example, never open an unusual file attachment in an email, even if your friend is sending it (they might be infected and the virus can send the email automatically without their knowing).

If you know your computer has been infected then it’s important to act quick. A virus can affect your system in many ways. It could slow it down so that it runs sluggishly, it could cause programs to stop functioning and it could even delete your data. Once discovered, the virus must be removed from your system. Enable a firewall and run decent anti-virus software to ensure that the virus has been completely removed.

The absolute best way to ensure a virus is gone from your system is to completely factory reset the computer and reinstate your data from a backup, prior to infection. If, however, you don’t have suitable backups, then this article will talk through how to recover your data if a virus has destroyed some or all of it.

First of all, you should take an image of your hard drive using something like R-Image. Taking an image of the drive means to create a complete replica of everything on the drive. At this point the virus will still be present, but the process of removing the virus (installing and running anti-virus software) will cause activity to the drive and risks overwriting lost data.

Once the image has been created and stored on a different drive, go ahead and run the virus removal on the main drive. Ensure that the virus has absolutely gone. If it’s only present in the system files, have no fear. Those can easily be reinstalled from disc. It’s your personal data that’s important.

When the virus has been removed it’s time to begin data recovery. There are a number of data recovery tools available to download online, some free and some paid, but a good choice would be R-Studio. Although it’s paid software, there is a free trial so that you can test it out before parting with your cash.

Run this program on your drive and it’ll comb through it all thoroughly to get back any data that it can. When data has been removed from your drive it’s actually just hidden, rewritten only when new data needs the space. As such, although you might not be able to see the data on your drive that a virus has removed, it could still be there.

When performing data recovery you should always back it up to a different drive than the one that is damaged. If the program has recovered everything you need, you can go ahead and remove the image you created earlier and send the recovered files there (although best practice would be to recover to a third drive, but this may not be possible). You should probably virus scan these recovered files just to ensure they’re clean.

Finally, do a clean install of your operating system if necessary (and it’s probably advisable, just in case the virus is lurking) and move your recovered files back to your system.


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