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Using a Memory Stick. Another way to Test to See if Your Computer has a Virus

How to test if your computer has caught a virus... but without having to install any software!

Virus writers have made it easy for us to test for viruses. Yet again, you don't need any software to be installed to test this. Here's what to do:

1. Get a blank USB memory stick. You can get these from memory shops, and other places (such as the Pound Shop!).

2. Put it in a Linux computer just to prove to yourself that the memory stick really is empty and does not have any risky autorun.inf on it.

3. Put the memory stick in the computer which you are testing because you suspect it might have a virus.

4. Open up a few things in directories and folders including the memory stick.

5. Unplug the memory stick and put it in the Linux machine again.

6. Aha! As if by magic, the memory stick now has autorun.inf on it! This proves that the computer you've just tested has got a virus.

Or, it doesn't have, in which case it doesn't prove anything.

If the machine has got a virus, you need to run some antivirus software to get it cleaned up. It's important to do this for various reasons, many of which are obvious. A computer with a virus is a menace to the general wellbeing of the rest of the world as well as being dodgy versus your own privacy. Such things as autorun.inf can be produced if there is a file c:/windows/system32/antiwpa.dll which is a Trojan horse.

There are occasionally legitimate uses of an autorun.inf file on a USB stick, but these are rare. More usually it is a viral nuisance. Such things are easy to spot in Linux because it won't autorun a Windows file anyway. Also, even if there was a legit autorun.inf , it's likely to be a text file like a .bat file. If it claims to be an MP3 file, it's most likely a virus disguised as an mp3 file, and the fact that it goes "splitch" when played using mpg123 is neither here nor there. It's a virus.

Also see Testing if Your Computer Has a Virus by the "AVG Test"!

Incidentally, you can't use this memory stick test to prove categorically that your computer has no virus. However, you can use it to show with a reasonable level of certainty that a virus threat that was on the machine has now been alleviated.