I have Windows XP desktop. I removed the smart virus, but there are changes
on my computer that the virus did and I can’t fix. With the Start menu, the
list of all programs is missing. Can I restore the list? Thank you for your
In this excerpt from
Answercast #28, I look at the ramifications of having a virus on your
computer and how deep you need to go to get it clean again.
Cleaning up after a virus
So, the short answer is, “You didn’t remove the virus.”
I mean, you removed maybe the worst part of the virus. But, you certainly haven’t removed its side effects, its implications, and the things that it did to your system. So your removal is incomplete.
- The problem is you still don’t know how incomplete that removal is!
What else is left?
That may imply that there are lots of other things on your system that the virus has left behind or has broken. You don’t know what they are!
My belief, and I’ve said this in multiple places:
- Once your machine has been infected with a virus; it’s not your machine anymore.
That virus has essentially taken over and done things to your system… that you just don’t know. There’s no way to know either what it’s done or what you need to do to clean it up.
Restore to a backup
I do have an article, “How do I fix Windows after removing a virus?” It will go through a couple of different steps, but the bottom line is: if you want to be safe, there are exactly two approaches:
- One is to restore to an image backup that you took before you were infected.
That’s quick, it’s easy. If you’ve got image backups, you’re safe once that’s done. That’s a fast way to remove the virus. It’s a fast way to know that you have removed not only the virus, but also any effects that it had on your system.
The problem, of course, is that most people don’t back up.
Reformat and reinstall
If you don’t have a backup; the only safe thing to do is:
Backup your system now (so that you don’t lose any files that you may have on the system that you care about);
Reinstall all your applications;
Reinstall your data;
And get on with your life.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it’s the only way to know that you have removed all traces of the virus and any side effects that thing has done.
Since it is so much work, I hope that you will learn from that and say, “You know what, maybe backups are worth the effort of setting up!”
Backups are the best way to save you from almost anything: including viruses and their aftereffects.
Next from Answercast 28 – Why is my download speed not what it should be?