How to Protect My External 1TB Drive from Viruses Infections?

Posted on 2008-06-24
Last Modified: 2009-12-16
Dear All ,

My question simply , that I'm using a hard drive For Backup Purpose , and Due to my Job Duties I'll be Plugging this Hard Drive to Various Computers , what I'm afraid of that if I plugged such Drive on an Infected Computer it My spread infection to my Drive , Especially that My hard drive have Many Executable File , which i can lose them forever Because they are rare to be found again if they were infected .

- So how to Protect my Hard Drive when I'm plugging it to Various Computers ??

Best Regards
M Hadoka
Question by:hadoka
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

garycase earned 62 total points
ID: 21861238
"... My hard drive have Many Executable File , which i can lose them forever Because they are rare to be found again if they were infected ..." ==> You should NEVER only have one copy of important files or data.   Even if the drive never gets infected, it CAN and (eventually) WILL fail someday.

As for protecting it against any possible viral infections ... the only way to be certain that doesn't happen is to never plug it into another computer :-)   Clearly that's not an option;  so you need to simply be sure that every system you plug it into has up-to-date virus protection BEFORE you plug the drive in.   As long as there's an up-to-date real-time virus scanner active on the system, it will prevent any infections to your drive.   In addition, I'd be sure and run periodic full scans on the drive from your main system ... just to be sure.

One other alternative is to create a bootable USB flash drive with a good antivirus program and boot to it and do a full scan before connecting the larger drive => but that is VERY time-consuming.   Better to simply ensure that all of the computers you connect to have proper anti-virus software.
LVL 44

Assisted Solution

scrathcyboy earned 62 total points
ID: 21862265
If you are booting from a virus infected system, any drive attached to it can become infected.  Therefore, do not use a drive with CRUCIAL files on it, to plug into another system.  Backup the CRUCIAL files to another drive, keep it in safe storage, and assume the drive in the USB can be trashed if needed.  Your only way.

Author Comment

ID: 21862903
I think there is Other Solution .. I can Compress the Excutable file to Zip or Rar .. and i think then will not be infected with viruses spreaded from other pcs .

- Pls Correct me if I'm Wrong
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Expert Comment

ID: 21869945
Zips and Rars can still be infected.  password prtecting them would help but if you ever opened one on an infected PC infection is possible.

If it were me, I'd be ensuring all PC's have valid anti-virus before inserting the drive like garycase said, and also copying the crucial files off to DVD on a regular basis.  Assuming no virus's exist when you write to DVD, the DVD becomes safe as it's read only.

A variation on graycase's theme is you could also buy a 'U3' compatible USB drive. You can then install an anti-virus onto that and make sure you always keep it upto date.  Then get in the habit of inserted the U3 drive first and activating the antivirus, before inserting the hard drive.

Author Comment

ID: 21922489
I finally found the solution ... simply I'll just change the extension of the executable files for example .. exe to be exee ... this will make viruses can't recognize that those file are executable ,, so they can't infect them .. I'm talking about viruses like jefo .. if anybody knows it ..which just attach it self to any executable file and can't be disinfected , so I'll do the above solution and when i plug it in infected computer I'll simply will copy the executable file and return its extension back ...

Accepted Solution

Disorganise earned 63 total points
ID: 21935712
good luck with that solution.  it'll fool simple virus's for sure, just like locking your car door deters the opportunistic thief.
Many files (like executables) contain identifiers in them so the OS can figure out what the hell they are regardless of extension.  The extension generally determines the 'default' actions from within the GUI.  Try the following experiment.
Rename an exe to .exee as you describe - eg, assuming you have adobe reader installed, copy the AcroRd32.exe and rename it to test.exee (or any other name and extension).
Open a dos prompt, and navigate to the adobe reader directory.
type 'test.exee' (or whatever name you used) into the dos prompt and hit enter.
Adobe will start.  

If windows knows how to start a renamed exe file, do you really think a virus will be fooled?

Assisted Solution

reswobslc earned 63 total points
ID: 21950216
You should reconsider your backup strategy so that you never need to restore executable files whenever possible.

Any time you restore a computer, you should reinstall executable programs from the original installation media (CD-ROM).  During a clean reinstall, you get the side benefit of installing clean copies of your software you know aren't corrupted, infected, or damaged, and also the latest version too (in case of downloadable software and/or drivers).

The whole point of doing backups is to save things you can't afford to lose in a system crash.  Usually that's data, documents, photos, music, and not your installed software.  Most of those can't be infected at all.

If I were backing up executables off a computer, I would consider the likelihood that I would be restoring them from the backup (as opposed to reinstalling them from CD) would be so low that I would not consider virus infection to be a concern.

If it continues to be a concern, consider using a different drive for each computer.  They are so cheap nowadays.

Even if it's not a concern, consider buying two external drives and alternating during each backup.  That way, if you discover that a computer has damaged the contents of your backup drive, you can fall back to the other one, rather than nothing at all.

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