a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

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a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:02 pm

Most people in this site are probably tech savy, and most of us are probably our families direct tech support line, even if by our own standars we aren't really big experts.

And it comes the ocasion, from time to time that a family member's computer is so full of errors and viruses, expecially the ones like Sality that will even block antivirus software (don't you just love those) and the rest of that **** and then they ask you to help them with it, and they will ask you to, most of the time, at least for me, I go the route of just doing a clean windows reinstall.

Lately I've been thinking whenever that is the best solution, after all, all their programs will be deleted, sometimes I can't backup everything or I miss something and then whatever that was is gone. So I've been wondering, I know that I am not all that tech savy, I'm more than them, but still, I don't consider myself a computer wiz.

So I come here to ask you. When you have to take care of this situations, do you try to solve the problem directly, are there any good diagosis and repair software I need to be aware of? or is it always just easy to just reformat and do a clean install of Windows (and then go hunting drivers :lol).

What do you do?
QuickSilverD
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:14 pm

If a fresh install is called for, and it often is the easiest route for everyone with a highly infested computer, I use some type of live CD or USB stick and copy personal files then nuke the OS. Then I let the person know about running a good AV and backing up their important files.
MadManOriginal
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:15 pm

When the box is owned by someone who will click on anything there's only one solution: Take off and nuke the site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.

Once that's done and everything is reloaded, image the freshly restored drive and throw it on a big thumbdrive or an external. Next time this happens (and it will), reload the image, run the updates, and reimage. After awhile the lather, rinse, repeat cycle will become second nature to you.
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:25 pm

If the box is rootkitted, or possessed by demons that come pretty close to a rootkit, then blow it away if you have that option. The risk of who-knows-what lurking in the system after you've left, and stealing passwords and credit card numbers and anything else, is far too high.

If the user is someone you really like, then sure, do whatever you can to save their digital photo archive and personal documents and lolcatz GIF collection. Bootable Linux USB drives are great for that sort of thing, and then you can do a sandbox scan of those files on the same machine after getting a clean OS and AV installation running. But the rest, dies.
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:35 pm

Captain Ned wrote:When the box is owned by someone who will click on anything there's only one solution: Take off and nuke the site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.


This is what I do. Why concern yourself with viruses? Even when you think you got them all there's always one you didn't detect. There's just no point. Image it and move on.
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:44 pm

If the person desperately needs pictures or something my general solution is:

1. Run Safe Mode
2. Run Malwarebytes (Use Chameleon-mode if the virus is blocking it)
3. Remove/Quarantine viruses/junk
4. Copy anything needed to an external
5. Clean format for good measure

If they don't need anything, clean format is the best option... you don't want to get called back haha
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:56 pm

looks like I wasn't missing anything then. Consensus seems to be on the side of Clean Reinstall
QuickSilverD
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Re: a Clean Reinstall as a solution?

Postposted on Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:17 pm

Even if you want to clean the machine using tools like MalwareBytes and SAS, you're looking at multiple scans, reboots and then once clean there's no guarantee that system files and windows services/features won't also need fixing as a result of the initial infection.

I would call myself an accomplished spyware remover but I think it averages a couple of hours to get laptops brought into work cleaned up. I encourage people to backup files and bring it back to me. I can usually get a windows install running for them in under an hour, drivers and all. If I'm feeling generous I'll take an image of the machine for them so that they can "factory wipe" it next time in under 20 minutes.
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