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How To Get Rid of a Computer Virus with a Fresh Install

In my last post, I detailed how to do a cleanup on your frustratingly slow, virus ridden computer. This is one option for getting rid of a virus in your computer.  In this post, you’ll learn what to do to get ready for a reinstall, what you’ll need, and how to do it.

This option is a great way to give your computer a fresh start, and it helps it return to its old form.

The Fresh Install

A few items needed for this route:

  1. An install cd for your operating system: A Vista dvd (any will do), XP Home edition, XP Pro edition, ..etc.
  2. A drive for backups if you’ve got stuff you want to save
  3. Drivers for the hardware in your pc

So, there’s no question that a clean wipe is the easiest way to fix your virus-related problems, as it will restore your computer to a state close to what it was when you first bought it, just without any of the preloaded software (unless of course you have the factory restore cd). It can also be necessary when a cleanup simply won’t fix everything.

Step One: Backups

You should technically already have this step completed (for important files, at

the very least), but the sad truth is most people don’t keep any incremental backups. If your computer is still operational, this step is a breeze, simply get a few DVDs or an external hard drive and copy the files.

Most of the time the stuff you’re going to want to keep will be in your My Documents directory and the other folders within, or if you’re on Vista (or Windows 7), it will be in a folder named after the current user that can be found just below the picture on the top-right side of the start menu. Copy whatever pictures, music, documents or financial records you may keep.  Make sure you don’t miss anything because soon it will all be gone!

…But what if my computer won’t boot?

Don’t panic. If you have a desktop, you can simply (or maybe with the help of the neighborhood computer kid) take your hard drive out of your desktop’s tower and put it into another computer. Doing this will allow you to access all of your files as if your hard drive were connected to the virus free computer like a huge jump-drive. If you have a laptop that won’t boot, you may need to obtain a USB-IDE connecter such as this

Step Two: Download Hardware Drivers

If you have a Dell or an HP, this step is pretty simple. Go to your respective manufactur

er’s site and click on the link to download software and drivers. You will usually just provide the site with your model number, and you will be presented with a list of downloads. Make sure to grab drivers for graphics, sound, network cards, WIFI, Bluetooth, and any other hardware you may have. Put this stuff in with your backup, or burn it to a cd so you won’t have togo hunting next time.

Step Three: Reinstalling Windows

This may sound like a daunting task, but it’s really nothing more than popping in the cd and hitting enter a bunch of times. If you’re installing XP, make sure you have the correct cd.  If you’ve always had XP Home, you need an XP Home cd, and so on for Pro and Media Center Edition, otherwise your install will be useless and you’ll have to start all over.

With the install cd in the drive, reboot the computer taking care to ‘hit any key to boot to cd’ when prompted to do so. Tell the installer to format the partition that’s currently got Windows installed on it, and sit back for a while.  Give the computer the correct time options, the user’s names you would like to set up, and when prompted the Windows key off of the sticker that’s on your case somewhere.

repair03.gif How To Get Rid of a Computer Virus with a Fresh Install

After windows installs, make sure to install all the drivers you downloaded earlier, run Windows update, copy your backups and be on your way! You now have a clean PC. That wasn’t so bad was it?

(By) Bryan Castleberry can be found on Facebook.

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