SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

VIRUSES AND MALWARE; TO CLEAN OR WIPE AND RESTORE?

There are two known options to dealing with malware and viruses; to clean or wipe and restore. It must be acknowledged that the main difference between the two has to do with convenience. Many argue that wipe and restore is the most effective way of virus alertdealing with viruses and malware, but to clean is equally effective and comes with certain advantages. For Small and Medium-Size Businesses (SMB) or Managed Service Providers (MSP) who are into the business of troubleshooting computers for a fee, it is very important to weigh the convenience each of the two methods bring to you and your clients.

There are some factors to consider when deciding on which method to use; time, cost, loss of irrecoverable data, etc, while ensuring that the primary objective of cleaning the computer or device of all malware and/or viruses is kept intact. Make sure that the client is satisfied with your work; you do not delete important files and folders that a malware has hijacked. You also want to ensure that there is a significant improvement in the performance of the computer; applications open faster, there are no popups or unauthorized applications running in the background and consuming vital memory space.

From the perspective of most clients, “wipe and restore” is how a lazy MSP gets the job done. The “I could have done that myself” feedback should not be unexpected. Wipe and restore, even when requested by a client, backed by a signed agreement, should be used when absolutely nothing can be done to recover files and applications. Truth be told, the client could have called his or her nephew in high school, or even the neighbor’s kid to do “wipe and restore” instead of hiring your services. It is clearly a bad idea to wipe; recovery files don’t receive updates, drivers which have been installed to work with peripherals will have to be reinstalled … too many inconveniences if we are to be fair.


  • To thoroughly clean is to first disconnect the computer from the internet and boot into safe-mood. This is a preventive measure to ensure that the malware does not spread or steal and transfer personal data via the internet.
  • Run a Disk Cleanup to clear all temporary files. Aside creating useful space for the client, this will also get rid of some malware and improve the performance of the computer.
  • Install a good malware software and run an on-demand scan to clean the computer. If client already had one installed, it obviously must be uninstalled since it failed to prevent the malware from spreading.
  • The next step is to reconnect to the internet and have Malwarebytes installed. After installation and checking for updates, disconnect the internet again and run the program. If you do not want to risk an infection, download it on a clean computer and use a USB drive to install on the infected one. This will remove all threats not detected by the earlier scan. It is not recommended as a first option because some malwares are designed to prevent its installation even in safe mode.

There are some damages you would not be able to repair or restore, but the client will be far more satisfied to have almost everything running normal than to start Windows from scratch.