One Reason Why You Don’t Need a New Computer


I run into this so often I want to record it for posterity:

Malware does not physically harm your computer.

You do not need to get a new hard drive because of malware. You do not need to buy a new machine because of malware.

You don’t.

Here’s why.

Malware is just software

Malware (viruses, spyware, bots, ransomware, or whatever) doesn’t hurt your computer’s hardware or your hard drive. Even with the worst of infections, they’re fine.

Malware is software — nothing more, nothing less. And software can be erased.

This is important, so I’ll say it again: software can be erased.

Malware is software. Software can be erased. That means malware can be erased.

Erasing malware

I absolutely admit, it may not be pretty. You may have to erase Windows, your applications, and your data files, but none of that involves replacing hardware.

At worst, it means reinstalling Windows and your applications from scratch, and then restoring your data.

If you’re prepared with good backups, it can be as simple as restoring a backup image created before the infection.

And yes, you can sometimes get away with removing malware using anti-malware tools and manual procedures.

If the thought of new hardware has entered your mind, I’d guess it’s this approach — attempting to remove malware using various types of tools — that didn’t work. Oh, well. The next step is to erase your hard drive and start over.

But shelling out money on a new machine or hard drive should never be the knee-jerk reaction to malware, no matter how bad the infection.

If you really want a new machine, get yourself a new machine. If you want a bigger hard drive, get a bigger hard drive. You don’t have to do either of those things because of malware. That’s just wrong.

BIOS infections

There is a class of infection that can potentially affect your BIOS (or UEFI) — that’s the software that loads the operating system from disk, among other things, and is stored in a chip on your computer’s motherboard.

However:

  1. The chances are extremely small that malware affected your computer’s BIOS.
  2. BIOSes are software. This means most BIOSes can be “erased” and reset.

So it’s extremely unlikely to happen, and it’s extremely unlikely that it can’t be reset.

BIOS-affecting malware is a conclusion you should never jump to.

Save your money

Even if you’re paying someone else to do the work, the worst-case scenario — reinstalling everything from scratch — is still generally cheaper than purchasing a new machine.

Even with a new machine, you’ll still have to reinstall all of your applications, and you’ll still have to recover your data from backups.

You may have a newer, shinier, faster machine, but you’ll also have less money.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ll say it again:

Malware does not physically harm your computer.

You do not need to get a new hard drive because of malware, and you do not need to buy a new machine because of malware.

Save your money.

Originally published as One Reason Why You Don’t Need a New Computer on Ask Leo!