How to safely connect a flash drive that may have viruses

In these cases, it will not only depend on the security of the computer that we are going to use or our flash drive, but many more users will come into play. Much more likely that someone may have some type of malware and that is a major problem.

lend the flash drive to someone

Something similar can happen when leave the USB stick to someone else. For example, think of a university colleague, a friend or family member to whom you leave a flash drive to copy a document, photographs, etc. It is possible that your computer is infected with a virus, even if you do not know it.

In this way, that USB memory will get infected and will infect your computer or any device where you are going to connect it in the future. You do not know that it has any malware and suddenly you find that the computer stops working properly, files disappear or even your access codes are stolen.

Connect it to an unprotected device

But you can even infect your USB stick by yourself, without you realizing it. This can happen if you connect it to a computer that is unprotected. For example, a device that has not been updated for a long time, does not have antivirus and to which you simply want to pass a file to save it.

In case it is infected, it can cause malware to enter the flash drive and then, by connecting it to your main computer, infect it. This is something much more common than it may seem, since we all tend to leave some old computer unused and by the time we decided to turn it on, it hadn’t been updated for years.

Steps to connect a pendrive with viruses

At some point you may have doubts. You don’t really know if a pendrive you have may or may not be infected. What can you do to avoid putting your computer at risk? You can take into account certain tips that we are going to explain and in this way minimize risk the maximum possible.

Use a Linux distribution

A very interesting option that you have to connect a flash drive or external hard drive that may have viruses is to use a Linux, such as Ubuntu for example. This does not mean that there is no malware for Linux, but it is true that the majority of computer attacks and dangerous software are aimed at Windows.

Therefore, if your flash drive has a virus, the most normal thing is that it does not affect Linux. You will be able to open the USB memory and see the content, see if there is any suspicious file and you will even be able to remove it or pass an antivirus before connecting it to the Windows computer, which is where you might run into problems.

You do not need to install a Linux distribution, since most have a version without having to be installed on the hard drive. They can run on a CD or even another USB stick that you plug in and it will boot automatically. There you can connect the storage memory and analyze it.

enter safe mode

Windows itself offers a very useful option to be able to start the system in safe mode. Basically it means that it will work with the minimum, running the basics and you will not compromise the system, or applications that you may have installed. It is used to detect errors, but you can also use it to connect a pendrive that may have a virus.

To start safe mode in Windows 11, you have to go to Settings, System and Recovery. There you have to go to advanced start and click on Restart now to check the option of Enable safe mode and the system will restart in this way, so you can later connect the pendrive and see if it can be dangerous.

Start safe mode in Windows

An easier and faster alternative is to simply go to Start, click on the Shut down button and hit Restart, but do it with the Shift key pressed. This will cause the computer to restart and enter safe mode.

Use a test kit

Do you have any testing equipment? For example it can be a old computer you don’t use and that you do not even have connected to the network. You can use it to connect the USB stick without the risk of compromising the security of other systems that are vital to you, such as the main PC or a team in a company.

It is an easy way to check a storage memory and see if it may have any viruses. Of course, you must be aware that the risk will exist and that perhaps that computer will be infected with a virus. You have to make sure that it really is not going to affect you if that equipment stops working properly or even you lose data.

USB DiskSecurity

With USB Disk Security we are facing a very useful security program for Windows. It is quite simple and its mission is detect and remove viruses as soon as you connect a memory to the computer. If you think that your flash drive or external hard drive may have some malicious software, it is one more option that you can take into account.

For this you have to download the application. Once installed, it will act as an additional defensive barrier to avoid problems when using a USB stick. Of course, you should not take it into account as a substitute for antivirus, since there is no 100% protection, but as one more option to use.

Prepare your device

If you cannot use any of the previous options that we have explained and you are going to have to connect the pendrive to your main computer without knowing if it really is a threat or not, it is best that you prepare it correctly. The objective is to limit the possibility of suffering computer attacks as much as possible. Unless the computer is protected.

The first thing you should do is check that it is up to date correctly. That USB memory may have some malware that takes advantage of a specific vulnerability. In the case of Windows, you have to go to Start, you enter Settings and there you go to Windows Update. It will automatically show you possible new versions that you can install.

Update Windows 11

Also, you must have good security programs. A good antivirus, such as Microsoft Defender itself, can help detect and remove potential threats. However, there are many free and paid options. You can use others like Bitdefender or Avast.

Tips to avoid infecting a memory

What if the flash drive is clean but you want to prevent it from getting infected? We are going to give you some advice in case you are going to use the USB memory and you want it to be totally protected, without running any security risk. These recommendations will prevent your computer from getting infected with viruses and starting to go wrong.

use an alternative

Something very interesting is to use an alternative to having to connect the flash drive to a computer that can be problematic. This is undoubtedly something that will prevent that memory from coming into contact with malware and, subsequently, infecting your computer or any other device.

What can you do? Think, for example, when you go to a store to print a document. Instead of having to put your flash drive, you can send those documents to a email alternative that you have for these situations or some cloud storage page.

What you basically do is go to the Internet, either to the mail or to the cloud, download the files on that public computer and print them. You will not need to have to put physical memory and take risks.

Check the files

Another option that you will have, although in this case the risk is greater and will always be present, is take a good look at the flash drive before removing it. You can see that it just has the files and folders it should have and there is nothing extra, like a malicious document slipping through.

This is not something that is 100% reliable, as there may be files that have been infected without your knowledge or even hidden documents. However, it is a simple step that you can take to at least have more guarantees that there will not be any memory security problems.

Use an online antivirus

If you are going to connect the pendrive to a public computer, for example, you can use a online antivirus to at least have more guarantees that everything is going well. There are many alternatives, such as VirusTotal, which is the most popular. It is used to analyze a specific file and see if it could be a problem.

This is useful if you have downloaded a document and fear that it may be malware or has been maliciously modified. An online antivirus will help you detect certain problems that compromise your privacy and security.

In short, as you have seen, a pen drive can be infected by different types of malware. It is important to take action when you think there is a risk and also to take certain precautions so as not to compromise security and to keep everything running as smoothly as possible at all times.

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