Seems we have plenty of virus-related-issue questions. We also a lovely How can I remove malicious spyware, malware, adware, viruses, trojans or rootkits from my PC? canonical question. Most of us know the only way to fix a computer with a virus is to nuke it from orbit format and install (or recover from backup). Some people insist on 'removing' the virus instead. Usually they experience problems afterwards caused by said virus. The only good answer really is to format and install.

Is it fair to close questions with virus-related problems as a duplicate of the canonical virus question?

It may need some clarification, or we could craft a simple "How do I fix problems after virus removal?" canonical, but I do think these should all be closed with the same answer: nuke it.

1 Answer 1


There is a distinction between successful virus removal and successful restoration of the system to working order.

I have seen plenty of virus removal techniques which work 100% well at effectively getting rid of the virus and all of its many facets and back doors, but in the process, break the operating system or some programs by removing or modifying files needed for them to work.

Also, the chances of being reinfected are extremely high if the user visits the same websites again, or attempts to re-install the same malicious program (not realizing they got the virus from that program), or has an open port all the way out to the public Internet with a vulnerable service sitting behind it which is getting hacked.

I would say that closing all virus related questions as duplicates is taking it a bit too far, because there are some people who are technically savvy enough (or patient and persistent enough) to verify that they got rid of the virus 100%, and then begin the long and painful process of getting all system services and programs back to working order, replacing missing files, reinstalling programs, etc. For some people, doing this is less costly than reinstalling, because some software licensing schemes are extremely particular about how many times you can activate them, and getting a new license can be expensive or impossible.

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    While I agree with you, it is nearly impossible to actually assist a user in virus removal. You simply can never know enough about their system to get a satisfactory result. Even if you could reference a tool/guide that is the perfect removal tool for SomeVirus.3xyz, it's nearly impossible to determine which malware the user is actually infected with. These circumstances usually qualify a question for being too localized. Commented May 30, 2013 at 15:06
  • This sounds like a bit of an edge case to me. If licensing (or anything else) prevents format/install from being a solution, backups need to be available (What if the HDD dies?) There's also no way of having certainty that 100% of the virus has been removed. All future problems with the machine could be the result of the virus.
    – rtf
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 15:06
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    While I do not agree that nuking should always be the recommended solution, I guess tech savvy users who can attempt a proper system cleanup wouldn't really be posting here desperately asking for help either. I agree with @OliverSalzburg, IMO such questions are far more suited to any of the various malware removal fora where users can be hand-held through the process of providing HiJackThis logs and subsequent follow-ups. A Q&A site like this is just not suited to the extensive back and forth required for successful resolution of such problems.
    – Karan
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 0:51
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    By the same token, we shouldn't automatically close any question that says "virus" anywhere in the subject or body, because it may be that the user is mistaken in believing that they have a virus, when in fact, it's just good old fashioned broken software that may be able to be fixed somehow. My dad, for one, being extremely tech-unsavvy, thinks it's a virus when almost anything goes wrong with his PC. Many users come to us having already "pre-diagnosed" the symptoms they're seeing with their PC, and, not being experts, can easily get the diagnosis wrong and mislead themselves and us. Commented May 31, 2013 at 13:52
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    @allquixotic this applies to useless techs as well. I've heard people who should know better blaming things they couldn't fix (or understand) on "overheating", "a virus or malware or something", or "a power surge". These things happen, but MUCH less than a lot of techs out there seem to think. Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 9:53

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