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What Is a Boot Sector Virus?

Boot sector viruses affect computer start-up.
Boot sector viruses can come from disks or networks.
One of the main ways the boot sector virus has historically infected computers is through floppy disks.
A boot sector virus is loaded into a computer everytime the computer starts up.
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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2014
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A boot sector virus is a virus that places its own codes and commands into a computer's DOS boot sector or Master Boot Record (MBR). When this type of virus has infected a system, the MBR is usually corrupted and a computer's boot sequence is changed. Boot sector viruses can be dangerous and prolific because they are loaded onto a computer every time one starts up, and in time, they can spread to other readable disks. Booting problems and start up problems, problems with retrieving data, computer performance instability and the inability to locate hard drives are all issues that may arise due to an infection.

One of the main ways this type of virus has historically infected computers is through floppy disks. Due to technological advancements, these disks do not have to be the old-fashioned bootable disks to do damage to a system; they can be average disks that have been left in drives when computers start up. The virus can also thrive in shared networks where files are exchanged and email attachments are distributed.

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Fortunately, boot sector virus removal is easy, and most antivirus software can remove the virus quickly and efficiently. It is important for computer users to make sure that the antivirus software has removed the virus completely. Failing to do so can result in a partial removal, which can then lead to a different part of a hard drive being affected. Investing in antivirus software can also help protect data and files during the removal process.

Prevention of infection is also simple. Users should avoid sharing diskettes and downloading software from unknown sources, since the virus can be transmitted both these ways. Removing disks from drives before starting up a computer can also spare a user from infection since the virus can reside in a floppy disk. Installing a live antivirus software that actively assesses threats to a machine may also help in deterring attacks.

All users should be prepared for a virus attack any kind. Generally, it's a good idea to regularly back up files. Keeping system disks locked so that viruses are not able to write them can protect disks from unwanted intrusion. Checking all downloaded applications for viruses before installation and locking floppy disks before using them in a third-party computer can also keep a user's personal computer virus-free.

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Discuss this Article

anon251145
Post 3

A bot sector virus can also disable your services. For example, Microsoft Security Essential cannot scan for a virus. A boot sector virus can also disable one of the services and cause a blue screen every time you start up the computer.

lonelygod
Post 2

What is interesting about a boot sector virus is that they take up exactly 2,048 bytes making them easy to identify if you know where to look.

To look for how many bytes your computer should have, look in the properties of your computer and look at the system information. Write down the number under RAM. You may need to convert the GB to bytes. (1 GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes)

Once you have that number, run a disk check and see how many bytes it says your computer has.

If the difference between the numbers of the RAM check and your disk check is 2,048 bytes, you know that you are dealing with a boot sector virus and you can treat the problem.

letshearit
Post 1

You may be the victim of a boot sector virus if you find that your computer has difficulty starting up, or that you are finding a lot of corrupt system files. Also, missing files are another sign that you may have contracted this virus.

There is plenty of free anti-virus software on the Internet, and it is recommended that if you download anything or surf the net, you should have a program installed.

Getting a virus like the boot sector virus is a good way to make your life frustrating. Loss of files and data corruption can be traumatic. Just think if you lost all of your vacation photos? It is best to make sure your computer is protected.

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