True of false?

While looking for some simple questions on security I came across this" Do NOT format your hard disk! Formatting is NEVER a 100% guaranteed solution in order to face a computer virus. Have patience, faith in the antivirus program you have chosen and ... a bit of good luck! " I believe the luck part.  If formatting is not 100%, what is. At times formatting is faster than trying to remove virus and other junk.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

After dealing with computers and multitudes of software for over ten years now I can tell you that I agree with the last part of your statement. There are times when a system has been infected so badly and widely that a reformat not only saves time but starts you out on a needed clean slate as well. I think you have pretty much answered your own question. If the system is badly infected, reformat. :-)

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Eliallen, I'm just curious after reading your post for the second time. Can you tell me where you found the statement you posted? I'm r-e-a-l-l-y curious as to who is stating that you need some "Good luck" when dealing with computers. :-)
The distinction between high-level formatting and low-level formatting is important. It is not necessary to low-level format a disk to erase it: a high-level format will suffice for most purposes; by wiping out the control structures and writing new ones, the old information is lost and the disk appears as new. (Much of the old data is still on the disk, but the access paths to it have been wiped out.) Under some circumstances a high-level format won't fix problems with the hard disk and a zero-fill utility may be necessary.
Are You Protected from Q3's Internet Threats?

Every quarter, WatchGuard's Threat Lab releases a security report that analyzes the top threat trends impacting companies around the world. For Q3, we saw that 6.8% of the top 100K websites use insecure SSL protocols. Read the full report to start protecting your business today!

That statement is False. Even a high level format will get rid of all viruses. Or at least, all viruses that reside on that disk. It will not help with viruses that reside on other disks, network, bios etc. and you should make sure the formatting also erases the boot sector.

A low-level format may be needed if you suspect bad blocks on the disk, or if you need to erase other data.

I am guessing the statements you read elsewhere may have been saying that a format is not always necessary to remove a virus.

eliallenAuthor Commented:
Thanks Eli,
I checked out the URL. The information isn't bad. Personally I don't agree with the format comment. If I have a system that is badly infected with malware and viruses I'll nuke the hard drive in a second. :-)
I agree with David H. also. That site has generally good advice but the author got carried away with the last statement. Perhaps he is trying to say that don't format if you need to save important files first.
Hi eliallen,

my two cents, false false false   i have yet to face an issue where formatting doesnt solve a virus problem - the logic - how can a virus exist in "nothingness"

oh and lesson i learnt  -  nerver have faith in your antivirus!!!
Giuseppe 'Pino' De FrancescoSnr. Solutions ArchitectCommented:
Hiya eliallen,

all is about the kind of virus: nowadays people call virus also worms & C. so, first of all we have to define what a virus is. A virus is an executable malicious software: once activated it resides in the computer's memory and spreads itself in different ways. In this case (a virus) you can format your HD as meny times you want, but the virus will NOT be erased, just because it is memory resident and, when the formatting ends, it just infects the new disc ;) I agree that against viruses the only thing to do is have a good and updated anti-virus.

Formatting usually shouldn't be the FIRST option, but that doesn't mean you should never do it in some cases either.

Here's an article about virus protection at the BIOS level:

Memory resident viruses stay in RAM... so you will actually be OK after shutting the machine off.... after all, it's volatile. memory. However, I suppose you could technically have a virus overwrite the BIOS so that it's sitting there ready to screw things up...

But for all intensive purposes, formatting will a very high percentage of the time (we're assuming there's nothing wrong with the hardware itself).
Dushan De SilvaTechnology ArchitectCommented:
True. Your harddisk formatting means, it just removing the index data. Not the actual data. You can recover those files use getdataback kind of data. That means the person who is writing viruses, can write viruses still to be in the hard disk if we have formated also.
Even if you formated you can recover your data. Means viruses also can agian come.
Try with getdataback.

BR Dushan
That fails to take into account that would require someone actually RESTORE those files. A person who wrote a virus to infect another person's machine is not going to have physical access to it. So as long as someone does not crack into the reformatted machine, that's really not going to be feasible.

There are also many ways to format.... so the question is exactly how are we formatting the disk? Some utilites will remove index data, some will write zeroes to the entire disk.

Recovery of data after a format is indeed possible, hence why governments came up with their own formatting rules (i.e. US DOD format standards) to make it extremely difficult to recover any data.

Besides, we're talking about someone who is formatting their own hard drive, then reloading software on it... not someone formatting the hard drive then giving it away.
"There are also many ways to format.... "

Yes, masnrock is very correct. Implied in this discussion is that formating will be done with a trusted system, i.e. boot from the Windows CD, then format the hard drive. It would be silly to format using a system that's infected with an unknown virus.
Dushan De SilvaTechnology ArchitectCommented:
yes I'm agree with both of masnrock  and r-k guys , when we are doing formatting in special manner(like using BIOS law level format). But in normal way we are formatting our hard disks using simply right click on the disk or using fdisk or using OS bootable CDs' formatting facilies. In that senario I can say you can recover data.
So how can you guarantee, the person who has knowledge to wrote data recovery kind of software, couldn't create automatically to resotore it after normal format.

BR Dushan
Dushan De SilvaTechnology ArchitectCommented:
And Viruses are offcourse not going with Gov polices ;)

BR Dushan
"...So how can you guarantee, the person who has knowledge to wrote data recovery kind of software, couldn't create automatically to resotore it after normal format..."

In order to get the data recovery software to work on your computer (which has in the meantime been formatted and a clean install done from CD), the virus writer would have to re-infect the computer from the outside (e.g. network) first. Of course if this possible then all bets are off, there would be not need to recover the old viruses, he could much more easily install all new viruses...

It is up to the user to protect their new system with standard practises, such as firewall, system updates etc. before connecting to the internet.

Dushan De SilvaTechnology ArchitectCommented:
We are not talking about the re-infecting, we are talking about after formating the hard disk can a virus automatically recover, without using data recovery software......

BR Dushan
Dushan - How are they going to load the data recovery software in there to start off with? They don't even have access to the machine.

When people format their hard drives, they're using a bootable operating system CD (which you yourself have acknowledged), not the process of right clicking on a disk, which requires them to pull out the hard drive from their computers. Most people are afraid to even open their computer for that matter.

So while I understand the point you're trying to raise, it's irrelevant. It would require that the machine that hard drive is being formatted from (which would have to have a working [well enough] OS to begin with) to be infected already AND for that OS to be started up in order to format the drive you're concerned about.

Notice you yourself have mentioned the use of bootable CDs, which a virus wouldn't even be able to write to (assuming we happened to have it in the drive while the machine was still started up and infected). Knowing that a machine is infected, you generally would not even try to write to media because of concerns of spreading it. Since this media is preexisting, your point becomes moot.

We cannot magically infect media that's not within our reach or writeable for that matter. You're hitting far beyond the scope of this question by coming up with scenarios that pretty much requires someone to physically intrude into the user's location.
"...we are talking about after formating the hard disk can a virus automatically recover, without using data recovery software......"

 The answer to that is a definite no (with the exceptions noted above, such as an infected bios, or running from another disk or over the network).
eliallenAuthor Commented:
Sorry for taking so long to reply. But last night I had a heat tape short out and caught a plastic bed pan on fire which burnt a hole in the plastic water pipe and put the fire out. Other than a lot of smoke, water and burnt bed pan every thing is fine. Thanks to all. Hope the points split is ok.
hahaha oh dear!
Sorry about the fire. Thanks and good luck.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
OS Security

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.