questionshow do i safely extract files from a corrupt…

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I'd say if your computer is still working (you still have control over the computer) put all the files you want to transfer into one folder, do a virus scan on that one folder and if it all checks out transfer it to an external drive. Files being corrupted upon transfer could be one of many things such as an actual virus corruption (which I haven't seen in years), a flash/hard drive malfunction, or even a formatting difference (ie: mac and pc uses two different drive format).

After that I would do a re-format (factory default) the computer since I've been doing that and worked for me, and it was simple.

If you don't have control over your computer anymore, you can salvage the hard drive but removing it from the laptop and buy something called a "hard drive dock" (that also fits that hard drive, you could do a little more research on that if you'd like) which basically turns that hard drive that was once an internal drive into a pluggable USB external hard drive on another computer.

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As for safely copying files from a virus riddled compute goes, the safest option would be to pick a distro or linux with a live cd/dvd, burn that to cd/dvd and boot from that disk. You can then use that to transfer files from the hard drives to another drive.

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Hmm, I booted off of a dvd recently for my first time (force root to an old droid x), that may be a good option.

I'm not against pulling the drive either, just want to learn the potential risks or lack of risks before hooking this up to a new machine.

The relative simplicity of these answers gives me more hope then I had an hour ago!

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The best thing to do is run a few anti-virus programs (be sure your virus definitions are updated). Once you've removed all the issues, you should be able to safely transfer files to your external drive. If you don't want to spend money on an antivirus, Avast offers a free program that's actually pretty good. Also, be sure you scan each folder individually as well before transferring them to the external.

Sometimes, removing viruses is easy and a simple antivirus software will do -- other times the programs take your computer hostage and say you need to pay for 3rd party software before you can proceed -- if that's the case do not submit any form of payment to them. If you're unable to remove it, then hire someone who can. It's better to pay someone who knows what they're doing handle it than to crash your system and lose most of your files.

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@spikedknight: Pull the drive and hook it up to your computer (hopefully the drive is Sata). You will want to ensure you disable autorun: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/967715

I would say you are relatively safe pulling pictures, but I would just scan the entire drive. You might as well.

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Question... Does it want your Vote or just your Money???

On a more serious note... You can purchase an in expensive USB drive converter that will connect to either Sata or IDE HDDs and allow you to connect the Drive to a working computer to recover your files and data... Do not allow AutoRun and run your anti-virus on the folders you plan on recovering... I've had to do this to recover files from a dead computer...

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This has happened to me in the past and I had a knowledgeable friend do it for me at no charge. If you want "hands on" you have some good answers here.

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This one is $10.00 others are more or less...
SATA/PATA/IDE Drive to USB 2.0 Adapter Converter Cable for 2.5/3.5 Inch Hard Drive / Optical Drive with External AC Power Adapter

http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Adapter-Converter-Optical-External/dp/B000YJBL78/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352257528&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+sata+adapter

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I can't tag everyone, but thank you all for the input, while this info is all over the Internet, I value the collective here giving me some pointers. I'll be digging in soon, heck, may even start tonight to see if I need the drive-usb adapter.

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Viruses extremely rarely spread from file to file anymore. It's all about spreading over the Internet via email and social media, as well as infected web sites.

You're usually safe just plugging the hard drive of the infected computer into a usb enclosure/dock and copying it all to a folder on the other computer/drive.

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@hackman2007: Permanently disabling autorun is a little overboard. Just hold down the shift key while inserting the disk into the drive and wait until the "what do you want to do with this disk" type message comes up, and then let up the shift key. This fully prevents autorun for that drive.

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I use something like this http://www.amazon.com/Vantec-CB-ISATAU2-Supports-2-5-Inch-5-25-Inch/dp/B000J01I1G to pull drives and use them as thumb drives to pull files.

Once the files are off the infected machine place back in the laptop and format it back to factory. Put it on your network and upload the pics back to the laptop.

I will try to watch this question, for your questions (3 days is all my attention span is)

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Here is another way to do this, but slightly geeky.

Download a linux distro that uses a live CD. Boot the computer from the CD. It should be able to read the files on the hard drive and USB external drive. Copy to clean media. Reformat and reinstall OS.

Here is a list of live CD distros. Pick one.

http://www.livecdlist.com/

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Assuming you're coming from Windows...
Another approach, if the old computer is working, is to use the windows "Files and Settings Transfer" wizard.

Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.
Put her files onto a thumb drive (or a large removable drive). Disable autorun when inserting that onto the new system (hold down shift when inserting it as others have said), then scan that media for malware.

Now you can wipe the drive and re-install everything on the source, and restore her stuff using the same wizard on the newly-installed system.

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Sweeeeeeeet.
Yes, I know not to give payment, although I'm shocked how many people will do so.
Over the years I've tried Norton and McAfee, currently use AVG, and have used a handful of add on's, such as CCleaner, MalwareBytes (<- that was for the actual problem that I encountered), and a few others I can't recall.
Got carried away on ebay last night, but will be jumping on this tonight.
Thanks again wooters!

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I use avast, spywareblaster (if your an IE user) malwarebytes and if malwarebytes did not work superantispyware.

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I can't tag everyone, but thank you all again.

I already have AVG/CCleaner/Malwarebytes, they handled the external drive just fine, had an 'autorun.inf' kind of thing, easily removed it and got the data off of it. Reformatted and now it's good as gold.

The laptop is being a bastard, wouldn't load AVG via thumb drive, so I used Avast along w/ CCleaner & Malwarebytes. Got a lot cleaned up. Uninstalled a ton of toolbars/media players/add on's/etc, runs better, but still a mess. Wireless wont' work, wired will work to see Google or Yahoo or other sites, but won't let me access microsoft update (running XP on SP1), nor can I update internet explorer (IE5), or download Chrome or Firefox. Also can't download from download.com's site, haven't tried saving any of the install files to a thumb drive though.

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continued
Never the less, I've removed the files of value and am in the final stages of reloading them all onto the refreshed external hard drive, so the school documents and photographs of world travels seem to be useful.

Thanks again!!

(soon it'll be a joy to retire this old school Sony VAIO thing with it's super loud fan.....)