What is a safe way to format an infected USB drive?

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  1. Posts : 68
    windows 10
       #1

    What is a safe way to format an infected USB drive?


    - Should I format an infected USB drive and a clean USB drive from an infected PC?
    - Should I format an infected USB drive from a clean PC?

    Thank you

    It is Windows 10 version 20H2
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  2. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 31,870
    Win 10 Pro (1903)
       #2

    Hi, a truly safe way would be to boot your PC from a live boot disk (a DVD would be ideal- not writable) with no disk accessible in your PC, and format the disk. Otherwise if using a bootable USB device, then format that.

    Otherwise, boot from a standard account with UAC on, ensure Autoplay for USB devices is off (check to see nothing happens when you plug in a clean disk); plug in and format the infected disk.
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  3. Posts : 68
    windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #3

    dalchina said:
    Hi, a truly safe way would be to boot your PC from a live boot disk (a DVD would be ideal- not writable) with no disk accessible in your PC, and format the disk. Otherwise if using a bootable USB device, then format that.

    Otherwise, boot from a standard account with UAC on, ensure Autoplay for USB devices is off (check to see nothing happens when you plug in a clean disk); plug in and format the infected disk.
    I concern about infected USB drives, I want to format all of them eliminating viruses, not about boot USB. Can you give me some more details about it? Can I format them from an infected PC. Thank you
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  4. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 31,870
    Win 10 Pro (1903)
       #4

    Thank you for your reply. I don't think you understood my answer which addressed your question directly.


    You could try that of course, it should reduce risk.

    But I would still treat the drive with suspicion.

    See my previous answer.
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  5. Samuria's Avatar
    Posts : 6,280
    windows 10
       #5

    You dont say what the infection is so we dont know if it will jump to a clean usb. Its best to delete partitions on infected usb then create new one and do a full format not quick
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  6. Paul Black's Avatar
    Posts : 13,379
    Win 10 Pro 64-bit v1909 - Build 18363 Custom ISO Install
       #6

    Hello @join,

    dalchina has given you excellent advice.



    Additionally, to Reset a USB back to how it was New . . .

    DISKPART - Clean AND Format:

    [1] Press the Win + X keys together > Command Prompt (Admin).
    [2] Type EACH command below Individually into the Administrator: Command Prompt Window > Enter.

    diskpart
    list disk
    select disk # Where # is the USB Disk Number <=== CRITICAL
    clean This will ERASE EVERYTHING from the USB.
    create partition primary
    format fs=NTFS quick Change to format fs=fat32 quick for FAT32.
    exit
    exit



    NOTE:

    If the FILES that will be used are NO BIGGER than 4GB, then you may want to Format the USBs as FAT32.



    I hope this helps.
    Last edited by Paul Black; 2 Weeks Ago at 06:21.
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  7. Posts : 68
    windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #7

    Samuria said:
    You dont say what the infection is so we dont know if it will jump to a clean usb. Its best to delete partitions on infected usb then create new one and do a full format not quick
    A helpful detail, thank you



    Paul Black said:
    Hello @join,

    dalchina has given you excellent advice.



    Additionally, to Reset a USB back to how it was New . . .

    DISKPART - Clean AND Format:

    [1] Press the Win + X keys together > Command Prompt (Admin).
    [2] Type EACH command below Individually into the Administrator: Command Prompt Window > Enter.

    disk part
    list disk
    select disk # Where # is the USB Disk Number <=== CRITICAL
    clean This will ERASE EVERYTHING from the USB.
    create partition primary
    format fs=NTFS quick Change to format fs=fat32 quick for FAT32.
    exit
    exit



    NOTE:

    If the FILES that will be used are NO BIGGER than 4GB, then you may want to Format the USBs as FAT32.



    I hope this helps.
    Very detailed. Thanks Paul Black

    - - - Updated - - -

    dalchina said:
    Thank you for your reply. I don't think you understood my answer which addressed your question directly.


    You could try that of course, it should reduce risk.

    But I would still treat the drive with suspicion.

    See my previous answer.
    Thank you for helping me. Just because you mentioned about boot disk and bootabe USB while I did not concern about those.
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  8. Posts : 68
    windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #8

    Paul Black said:
    Hello @join,

    dalchina has given you excellent advice.



    Additionally, to Reset a USB back to how it was New . . .

    DISKPART - Clean AND Format:

    [1] Press the Win + X keys together > Command Prompt (Admin).
    [2] Type EACH command below Individually into the Administrator: Command Prompt Window > Enter.

    disk part
    list disk
    select disk # Where # is the USB Disk Number <=== CRITICAL
    clean This will ERASE EVERYTHING from the USB.
    create partition primary
    format fs=NTFS quick Change to format fs=fat32 quick for FAT32.
    exit
    exit



    NOTE:

    If the FILES that will be used are NO BIGGER than 4GB, then you may want to Format the USBs as FAT32.



    I hope this helps.
    Hi Paul Black,
    I just tried to format a USB following your instructions, but there was a problem at the first step, can you at the picture and tell me how to fix it, thank you.
    What is a safe way to format an infected USB drive?-command-prompt.jpg
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  9. SIW2's Avatar
    Posts : 1,999
    trying to install win10
       #9

    It is one word diskpart
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  10. Paul Black's Avatar
    Posts : 13,379
    Win 10 Pro 64-bit v1909 - Build 18363 Custom ISO Install
       #10

    Hello @join,

    join said:
    Hi Paul Black, I just tried to format a USB following your instructions, but there was a problem at the first step . . .

    My sincere apologies, diskpart is ONE word [ Thanks SIW2 for spotting it ]. I do NOT know how I missed that or why I put a space there, considering I have used diskpart it for years.
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