Is wiping a hard drive the best solution for fixing a bad computer virus? This question has come up a few times, so I hope this article can help address that question. Fortunately, in many cases we have seen where a computer had a bad virus; we avoided wiping the hard drive by exploring advanced virus removal tricks. Wiping a hard drive means that all of your data will be lost too, unless you have everything backed up. So depending on what’s at stake, sometimes it’s worthwhile to spend a little more time or money to have the virus removed.
It’s not easy, for me at least, to see someone lose information that could have been saved. That honestly is the real reason behind this article. Wiping a hard drive only makes sense when everything that needs to be salvaged and backed up is salvaged. Data files can still be salvaged even when the operating system cannot be salvaged. So this gives us a point we can use to decide when to wipe a hard drive and reinstall the operating system.
The biggest drawback to reinstalling the operating system is that you may lose some programs if you no longer have the installation disks, the licenses or the product keys. There shouldn’t be any problem recovering data files as long as the hard drive is accessible. I know that sometimes there is a misconception that “backing up data files will also include the virus”. But this is not necessarily true. Viruses are malicious executable files that mostly target the operating system. They mess up the operating system so that you can’t get to your data files the normal way. But the data is there and it can be recovered before the hard drive is wiped.
If the operating system is messed up beyond repair, then data recovery is still an open option before wiping a hard drive. Any real computer repair expert will not be eager to wipe the hard drive because of a virus infection. This would show laziness or lack of skill on their part, because there are other virus solutions to explore. Programs can be expensive to buy and replace, so they should not just be wiped away without care. Precious memories and important documents are not easily replaced; but an operating system or a computer can be replaced. So, all options to salvage and backup important documents, memories and programs should be explored before wiping the hard drive.
We only recommend wiping a hard drive to remove a virus when there is nothing worth recovering; or after recovering and backing up all data, if the operating system is badly corrupted. If you are worried about losing data from a bad computer virus, we are just a call or an email away. We will let you know what other options you have before wiping the hard drive.