When I was working at a winter camp this year, my computer contracted a virus that creates folder shortcuts and hides every file. It makes using the USB impossible, and if you try to delete the .vbs file that does it, it will just come back again anyway. (Here’s a detailed post from Security on Steroids that describes the virus and removal procedure.)
The following are steps I took to fix my USB after contracting the virus:
1. Show Hidden Files
- Open the Start menu.
- Type “cmd” in the Run (or Search) area to open the command line.
- Type “ATTRIB -H -R -S /S /D G:\*.*” without quotes and substitute the letter of your drive for G.
This page from Technology Next has a good overview (with images) about how to do that.
2. Perform a Full Virus Scan
Make sure you have an up-to-date Anti-virus program on your computer and to a full scan of the infected drive and computer. Try to get rid of as much garbage as possible from both.
One good option I’ve used previously is Trend Micro Housecall – but you need an Internet connection to do it.
3. More tools to Clean up and Protect your USB
Sometimes a virus scan doesn’t fully take care of the problem, so here are some more references to the steps I took to clean it up.
- Microsoft Fix It 50471 (Disable Auto-Run)
- UsbFix (Research, Listing, Deletion, Vaccinate)
- Farbar Recovery Scan Tool
- ComboFix (Disable AV programs to run)
- Panda USB Vaccine (Protect all USBs)
- RogueKiller (Scan Registry and everything)
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (MBAM)
4. Quick Tip: Set up your computer to vaccinate ALL USBs
Definitely remember to install Panda USB Vaccine on all your computers. You can set it up to automatically vaccinate any USB that is inserted. This should hopefully help prevent the further spread of viruses. (I did so at the high school I work at – on all 23 of their 2 labs of computers.)
Further Protection: Disable Writing on your USB
You could further protect your USB by disabling the computer’s ability to write to it. The main reason that USBs get infected is because a virus on your computer waits until a USB is inserted and then immediately tries to Save itself to the USB. If you disable USB writing, the virus can’t Save itself on there, and you won’t get infected. (Of course, this also means that you can’t Save your own files on the USB until you allow writing again…)
I haven’t personally looked into this much, but here is a link to get you started: