Secure Data Transfer?

Hi everyone,

So, I just built a new system. However, I have my music library as well as miscellaneous documents and files on my old computer's IDE HDD that I wish to transfer to my new comp's SATA (non-RAID config) HDD. The old HDD does not have an OS on it, so I know I could just hook it up to my new comp, simple as pie and grab whatever I needed, or even leave it hooked up for bonus storage.

However, my old comp was suffering from some major ailments by the time I built this new one, among which was a rootkit virus. I believe I got the rootkit removed however I really don't know, and it could have other nastiness for that matter. If I hook up this old drive to my new rig, do I automatically risk contaminating it with whatever the old one may have still have? Also, is there a way I can hook up this old drive, but have it somehow "quarantined" until I can scan it or somesuch?

Any thoughts, advice, etc. on how I could do a clean data transfer or HDD cleaning before integrating it into my new system? My old comp is only operable in Safe Mode (or SM with Networking), so what I can do on that system-side is limited.

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  1. You could plug it into another PC. Aslong as you don't run anything from the second drive, no viruses should touch your other pc. Viruses work from running at startup through registry keys etc. Your other PC won't have these keys, so they won't run. But it depends on what you need to back up. If you need to back up the entire system then this is not a good option. A few documents/images etc should be fine. I know you here about files being 'infected' but I think this is a myth. I'm no expert but viruses generally used to make money mainly by getting your personal details (keylogging, file reading etc). They may also try to spread themselves. However, as I stated, this shouldn't be a problem unless you run a .exe from the old drive.

    What I would suggest would be the following:

    1) On your new PC, download and install spybot search and destroy. This program will help you tons in the future, and will pick up and spyware you get from pulling your stuff over.

    2) Find a firewall you can manually set which connections can come in and out. I found that ESET Smart Security has a good one of these, but you have to enable the manual setting for the firewall. Its also only a trial, but 30 days is enough (unless you want to buy it). Use your PC for a few days with this on, and give all the programs you trust access to the net. When you pull over your stuff, if something you don't recognise tries to get internet access then it may give indication it is a virus. Deny it access. It can't leak your personal details/spread if it can't connect, so you should be safe while run a scan (The ESET suite has an antivirus). The above two stages can be used for good security procedure in general.

    3) Press windows key + r, and type msconfig. Take a note of what is in the services and startup tabs. If anything new randomly appears straight after you back your stuff up, investigate it.

    4) Plug old drive into another PC either internally or through a caddy. Pull off any files you need. Don't touch .exe files as they have a risk of being a virus. You can never truly tell the intent of an executable. I could write a program that has malware like properties and my antivirus wouldn't pick it up. A program may seem totally legit, but all it needs is a few lines of code connecting to the net to dowload malware, or a few more lines of code to install a .dll file to log your keystrokes.

    5) Once everything is backed up, get ESET and spybot to do system scans. Once this gives you the all clear, format the old drive either using a windows disk or using a program.

    Again, I may be wrong. As far as I am aware, a virus cannot act on its own. So you should be safe unless you go "HURR DURR *Runs nearest .exe*". I think it is a common misconception that viruses can act on their own, but in reality the OS or user needs to tell them to run. Their code cannot tell themselves to automatically run if the code has not been executed. If it has been run, it is a different story. It can make itself run when it wants. But by external input from the OS, often in ways similar to how useful programs run at startup. Just be aware you are doing this at your own risk. I'm no security specialist but the above should do the job.

    I hope this helps.
  2. That definitely helps! Thank you.

    I won't be transferring any exe's so hopefully this will make it a lot safer. However, I did just realize that the old drive is from a Windows XP OS and my new system is Windows 7... what kind of problems will this present? I'm assuming I can't just hook it straight into my new system because of this, is there some way to get around this?
  3. I think I'm just going to get a fatty flash drive 16-32 GB and do it that way... I may have to make a couple trips back and forth, but I think it will be easiest, plus I can scan them before I bring them onto my computer? Does this seem like a reasonable choice?
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