Due to their portability, USB devices are convenient vessels for spreading viruses. USB devices are vulnerable to two major types of viruses: the shortcut virus and the autorun virus. We will discuss how to remove each virus with anti-malware software and manually entered commands. Learn about the measures Windows is taking to protect your computer from the autorun virus.
Removing Shortcut Viruses
Understand the shortcut virus
The shortcut virus comes in two forms. The first type of shortcut virus replaces your desktop folder and file icons with shortcut icons—the icon will either appear with an arrow in the lower left hand corner, the word “shortcut” in the title, and/or the extension “shortcut.exe.” The second type of shortcut virus affects your USB or pen drive. This form of the virus places all of the files on your USB into a hidden folder and produces a shortcut.exe file of your pen drive. Attempting to open these files will activate the virus and cause it to spread to your PC.
Remove the shortcut virus with antivirus software
If your USB is infected with the shortcut virus, you can remove the malicious bug with antivirus software. Select Start > My Computer. Right-click on the removable drive and select “Scan for Viruses.” Follow the provided instructions to remove the shortcut virus.
- If you are using Windows RT 8.1 or newer, your computer comes with Windows Defender. You can use the program to scan for viruses. Launch Windows Defender and select Settings > Advanced. Check the box next to “Scan removable drives.” Every time you run a full scan, your USB drive will be checked for viruses.
- If your computer is not equipped with antivirus software, download a reputable anti-malware program.
- You should only have one anti-malware application downloaded and running at a time.
Remove the shortcut virus with a command prompt
You can manually remove the virus from your flash drive within a command prompt window. To open the command prompt window, click “Start” and search for “cmd.” Right-click on the “cmd” or “Command Prompt Window” result and select “Run as Administrator.” In the command prompt window:
- Type in your USB’s letter and hit ↵ Enter. To determine the drive’s letter, open “My Computer” and identify the letter listed next to the removable drive.
- Type del *.lnk and hit ↵ Enter.
- Type attrib -s -r -h *.* /s.d/l/ and then hit ↵ Enter.
- Open your flash drive. All of your files should return to normal.
Backup your files
After removing the virus from your drive, you may wish to reformat your thumb drive. Reformatting your USB drive will remove all existing data from the drive, providing you with a clean, virus-free device. Before you reformat your drive, backup all of the files on the USB. Scan through the items on your pen drive and delete any unfamiliar files and folders. Move all of the files from your USB to a folder on your desktop.
Reformat your drive
Click “Start” and type “cmd” into the search bar. Launch the “Command Prompt Window.” Type in the letter associated with the thumb drive and hit ↵ Enter. Type format /q /x [INSERT YOUR DRIVE’S LETTER]: and hit ↵ Enter.Return all of the files to your USB