Windows Legacy OS forum

General discussion

Can malware survive a reformat?

by dave cnet / January 23, 2006 7:29 AM PST

I'm just about to do a clean install of XP (Home), in the hope of resolving a drivers issue.

Is there any value in erasing the hard drive with a product like KillDisk, or is it sufficient to let Windows setup reformat the drive?

I don't have any privacy issues regarding my deleted files.

I do wonder whether Windows reformatting would be as effective if there were something nasty lurking on the drive. I DO use antivirus, anti-spyware, & firewall, all of which says the drive is clean. But can there be anything else hidden? And can malware survive a reformat?

Anyway, given that I propose to use a removable external drive to back up my documents for restoration afterwards, and this drive clearly won't be reformatted, would the KillDisk exercise be a waste of time, anyway?

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Can malware survive a reformat?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Can malware survive a reformat?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Yes and no
by joe_smith / January 23, 2006 9:16 AM PST

It's possible for something to lodge itself in the master boot record (MBR) which is a special part of your hard drive, but I doubt that will come to pass. Most malware is very poorly written, and getting something into the MBR requires a fair amount of programming skill.

So, it should be sufficient to just format to get rid of anything lurking. And yes, things can mask themselves from virus scanners. Ironically, they do so using the same basic methods that allow virus scanners to work. Such programs are called rootkits, and generally formatting is the only way to be sure you've gotten rid of one.

Programs like Killdisk are for the paranoid. Since you state you don't have any particular privacy concerns, it would be unnecessary.

Collapse -
yes itay
by hpjohn11 / January 23, 2006 12:19 PM PST
In reply to: Yes and no

I suggest trying to get a program to change all of you disks to 0 and or 1's. Maxtor has such a program on their download. However, if you don't have a Maxtor drive i don't know whether it will work. The name of the program is Maxblast 4 and it is FREE.

Collapse -
Reinstall Options
by phantazy / January 23, 2006 4:24 PM PST

XP allows you two types of reformat on installation quick and normal. The normal takes much longer, but is probably worth it if your worried. Also Norton Utilities have a feature called 'wipe clean' accessible from cd-Rom.

Popular Forums

icon
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
icon
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
icon
Laptops 21,181 discussions
icon
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
icon
Phones 17,137 discussions
icon
Security 31,287 discussions
icon
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
icon
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
icon
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

FALL TV PREMIERES

Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!