Diagnosing your computer’s hardware is critical in the process of removing viruses from your computer. In the Quarantine Part 2 is designed to help you understand how to pin point the problems you are experiencing by eliminating each component one section at a time. In the Quarantine Part 1 went over discovering the suspected virus or Malware, in this section we will begin the hardware diagnosis process.
I know of many forums and groups that are more than willing to jump right in and start trying to remove any viruses you may have. We have nothing against that methodology, we just choose to stick to checking for hardware problems first, and then attempt to solve any software problems. Viruses are software programs that are designed to do more harm than good, which makes it all the more important to ensure that your computer is not suffering from a failing hardware component.
As I mentioned previously, manufacturers like HP, Dell and Toshiba all have built in self diagnostic utilities in most of their latest computer distributions. This allows you to select a key combination at start-up, or within windows if you computer is stable enough, and run hardware testing programs. The photos you see here are of the HP built in diagnostic program.
I am only using HP because we have it in the shop at the moment; it is no reflection of the quality of the brand. I own several HP computers.
In any event, selecting the ESQ key at start-up pulls up the diagnostic menu. This allows you to access the utility.
Once you are in the program you are presented with a few testing options. I like to run every test possible to make sure the entire computer is in working order. I have seen many hard drives on the verge of failure be mistaken as a really bad virus and vice verse. Do not be surprised if you run in to dissenting opinions on that.
All the more reason to run a complete and thorough diagnostic before jumping to any conclusions.
Although this process will vary slightly with different manufacturers, here are the steps to doing a hardware diagnostics on an HP computer.
Starting Your Computer in Diagnostic Mode (HP example)
If you begin from the moment your computer is off, press the power button and very soon after you will see the HP logo. Once you see the HP logo, look on the bottom of the screen for a prompt like you see pictured below. The prompt for each model may vary slightly, but they are generally designed to help you or a remote technical support agent gain access to the built in Diagnostic utility.
A second or two after your computer starts you will see the following phrase very briefly show up on the bottom of your screen (Note: this is for an example HP computer other manufacturers have a similar prompt) “Press the ESC key for Startup Menu.”
After pressing this key you will then be given a few selections to choose from one of which will be a “Diagnostic” selection.
HP Advanced System Diagnostic
In this menu you are given several tests to choose from. I run every test possible to ensure that all hardware components are working appropriately. Please be advised, each test can take quite a bit of time depending on the speed and power of your computer. So you may want to start a test, then do some other tasks or projects you may have around the house or office or wherever you may be.
To give you an idea of what you will see if you have an HP, I started my tests with the Hard Drive test. You will have the opportunity to do a short test and a long test. I always run both tests because I have seen hard drives fail a long test and pass a short test and vice verse.
Hard Disk Test in Progress
Hard Disk Test Results
Memory Test Results
I would not recommend doing any “BIOS Management” at all if you are unaware of what the BIOS is used for or can do. It is an area of your computer that is designed for advanced users and repair technicians.
Understanding the Results
If your computer fails one of these tests you could still have a virus on your computer, you will just need to resolve the failed hardware issue as well. For example if your computer fails the hard drive test, then your primary concern should be getting your data off of the failing hard drive before it is irrecoverable. It is a much easier process to go ahead and backup your data and re-install the Windows operating system then it is to methodically remove and repair infected and or corrupted files from the system. For this reason, a bad hard drive can be good or bad depending on the situation.
To date, we have covered the virus or Malware discovery in Part 1. Here In the Quarantine Part 2 we went over diagnosing your hardware so we can move on the next step of identifying the type of virus or Malware in your computer.