Posted by Dan Steiner on Apr 26, 2013
Sometimes viruses can prevent a computer from starting up normally, or even in troubleshooting modes like Safe Mode. If you have another Windows computer and a USB Flash Drive handy, then you’re in luck! This process involves downloading removal software onto a blank flash drive using a second computer running any version of Windows
So uh, how does this work? Good question! One of the options built into your computer, even before Windows loads from the hard drive, is to boot from a USB Device. The goal is to copy virus removal software to the USB Flash Drive that will execute and kill the virus infection before it has a chance to load. We can do this a few different ways. We’ll cover 2 methods below that have a very high success rate.
- Working Windows Computer
- Blank USB Flash Drive
- Internet Connection
- Some Patience
This method is best used if you’re unable to run System Restore, but can still get into Safe Mode with Command Prompt. Make sure you have already copied the virus removal software that you’d like to run to your flash. Some examples of great software would be Rogue Killer and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
Boot the computer back into Safe Mode by turning the computer all the way off. Once the computer is fully powered down, you can then turn it back on and immediately start tapping the F8 Key.
Once you’ve reached the Advanced Boot Options Menu, use your up and down arrow keys to select Safe Mode with Command Prompt, then press Enter.
Insert your USB Flash Drive into the infected computer now.
The system will scroll a bunch of driver files, this is completely normal. Go ahead and select your user account to log in. You should then see the black command prompt window open. If not, you may want to try the second option below.
With the command prompt open, we will need to type in the commands to open your USB Flash Drive. On most computers, the drive is assigned either E: or F:
TIP: The easiest way to find your USB Flash Drive is to check drive letters until you find it. Keep in mind, the drive letters will rarely ever be C: or D:
When you find the correct letter drive, the command line will switch to show that letter. If you type in the wrong drive letter, you will get an error that says “The system cannot find the drive specified.”
Go ahead and start with your first letter guess (recommended E: or F:). Type directly in the command prompt E: (or whatever letter follow by a colon) then press Enter.
When you think you’ve found the right drive, type in dir then press Enter. If you recognize the files on your flash drive, then you have the right drive. If not, simply start guessing drive letters again.
Once you’ve found the correct drive and see the files on your USB Flash Drive, simply type in the exact name of the file you’d like to run, then press Enter. Now you can run whatever removal software is necessary!
Sometimes viruses can even block access to troubleshooting modes like Safe Mode. We’re not out of options yet! This method will actually create a bootable USB that can execute even if a virus pops up. For this method, we’ll be using HitmanPro Kickstart for our virus removal software of choice.
Go ahead and turn on your clean windows computer and open up a web browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Internet Explorer.
The program we’re going to copy to your USB Flash Drive is called HitmanPro Kickstart. It’s a very powerful program that makes it easy to create bootable USB devices. It’s free and very effective.
Simply save and run the HitmanPro installer file. The HitmanPro interface should open fairly quick after running the file.
At this point, you’ll want to make sure your blank USB Flash Drive is plugged in and detected by your computer.
In the bottom of the man HitmanPro screen, you’ll see a little icon of a guy kicking. Click on this icon to open the Kickstart interface. (Screenshot below)
You should now see your USB Flash Drive listed in the box. Go ahead and click it once to select it, then click Install Kickstart You will need to hit yes
At this point, we need to turn off the infected computer and insert the USB Flash Drive.
Note: Please make sure the infected computer is completely powered off. Standby mode and hibernation mode will not work.
This can be a tricky part depending on the computer. Quickly after pressing the power button, you will need to press a key to get into the BIOS or Boot Options Menu. Every computer and manufacturer are slightly different, so you’ll need to watch the onscreen text to see what button to press. Set your computer to boot from the USB Flash Drive.
Note: Generally, to access the boot menu of your BIOS you usually have to press either Esc, F8, F11 or F12 depending on the manufacturer of your BIOS.