Can you get a virus from an exe file that was in a zipped folder?

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  1. Posts : 15
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit 1903
       #1

    Can you get a virus from an exe file that was in a zipped folder?


    Hi everybody.

    I downloaded a folder from google drive which had a couple of pdf files and an exe file I didn't notice. When I opened the zipped folder I noticed the exe and immediately deleted the file (while the folder was still zipped) but windows explorer crashed.

    I thought it was a one off and tried to delete the file again but explorer crashed again and I had to restart it using "run new task" in task manager. I deleted the whole folder which went without a hitch and also deleted the folder from my recycle bin.

    This got me super worried and I ran a full system scan using Avira anti virus which didn't find anything. I also checked all the background processes that are running in task manager and couldn't find anything. I then checked on Glasswire to see if it is showing any new network activity but nothing is showing up there either.

    So it seems like it's ok but I wanted to post here to see if my assumption was correct.

    Some advice would be really appreciated. Thank you.
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  2. hsehestedt's Avatar
    Posts : 2,126
    Windows 10 Pro, 20H2
       #2

    If you didn't run the EXE file, then you are fine. I assume that there was likely simply some sort of problem with the encoding or some non-standard / enhanced encoding that maybe explorer did not get along with.
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  3. Ghot's Avatar
    Posts : 9,066
    Win 10 Home 10.0.19043.906 (x64) [21H1]
       #3

    Whenever you download anything... scan it with Avira and then scan it at Virustotal.
    If it's clean locally and at Virustotal, it's probably safe.

    VirusTotal
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  4. Posts : 15
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit 1903
    Thread Starter
       #4

    hsehestedt said:
    If you didn't run the EXE file, then you are fine. I assume that there was likely simply some sort of problem with the encoding or some non-standard / enhanced encoding that maybe explorer did not get along with.
    Definitely didn't run it, I just selected it and pressed delete on keyboard.



    Ghot said:
    Whenever you download anything... scan it with Avira and then scan it at Virustotal.
    If it's clean locally and at Virustotal, it's probably safe.
    I normally scan a folder with Avira but I was looking at the zipped contents before scanning them when I noticed the exe.
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  5. Ghot's Avatar
    Posts : 9,066
    Win 10 Home 10.0.19043.906 (x64) [21H1]
       #5

    munchkins said:
    Definitely didn't run it, I just selected it and pressed delete on keyboard.





    I normally scan a folder with Avira but I was looking at the zipped contents before scanning them when I noticed the exe.


    Scan everything. It only takes a few seconds, and will probably never turn anything up.
    But one day... it will save you.


    Even better... if you aren't already, use backup software. Most on here use Macrium Reflect.
    Macrium Software | Macrium Reflect Free

    Then even if you do let something slide through one day... you just restore from a backup.


    Backup software also helps with things like bad updates, 3rd party programs that break Windows, dead Windows drive...etc.
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  6. Chrysalis's Avatar
    Posts : 166
    Win 10 1809 LTSC
       #6

    The crash might be related to a/v explorer hooking causing buggy behaviour but simply extracting a archive shouldnt compromise your machine.
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  7. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 18,617
    10 Home x64 (20H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #7

    munchkins said:
    I downloaded a folder from google drive which had a couple of pdf files and an exe file I didn't notice. When I opened the zipped folder I noticed the exe and immediately deleted the file (while the folder was still zipped) but windows explorer crashed.
    If you tried to delete the exe inside the ziipped folder, that that should work in most circumstances. It certainly works if the zipped folder was made by Explorer. However, you have no idea what was used to make this zipped folder, and it may be that the zip archiver that made it has features that are incompatible with Explorer, at least as far as deleting files in it.

    I'd extract just the pdfs you want, perhaps putting them in a zipped folder of your own, then delete the original zip.


    Yes, a zipped exe can potentially contain a virus, but as you never ran it you should be safe. In fact, Defender will scan inside a zipped folder and should have alerted you if it found a virus.
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  8. Posts : 15
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit 1903
    Thread Starter
       #8

    Bree said:
    If you tried to delete the exe inside the ziipped folder, that that should work in most circumstances. It certainly works if the zipped folder was made by Explorer. However, you have no idea what was used to make this zipped folder, and it may be that the zip archiver that made it has features that are incompatible with Explorer, at least as far as deleting files in it.
    I'd extract just the pdfs you want, perhaps putting them in a zipped folder of your own, then delete the original zip.
    Yes, a zipped exe can potentially contain a virus, but as you never ran it you should be safe. In fact, Defender will scan inside a zipped folder and should have alerted you if it found a virus.
    Google drive created the zip folder.

    Will defender scans be active even when running a third party anti virus like avira?
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  9. Ghot's Avatar
    Posts : 9,066
    Win 10 Home 10.0.19043.906 (x64) [21H1]
       #9

    munchkins said:
    Google drive created the zip folder.

    Will defender scans be active even when running a third party anti virus like avira?


    The "Windows Security" section will tell you how things are running...
    You should be able to turn on Periodic Scanning by MS Defender, even while running Avira.


    Can you get a virus from an exe file that was in a zipped folder?-image1.png
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  10. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 18,617
    10 Home x64 (20H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #10

    munchkins said:
    Will defender scans be active even when running a third party anti virus like avira?
    No, not active. But a Defender on-demand scan can still be run along side a 3rd-party AV that's providing your real time protection.

    Whether or not it scans inside zip files but default is dependent of the settings of the 3rd-party AV. The exe would certainly have been scanned if you tried to extract it (and running from inside a zip requires it to be extracted to temp storage in order to run it).
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