One Reason Why You Don’t Need a New Computer

Buying a new machine is a common knee-jerk reaction to a bad malware infestation. And it’s wrong. Not just a little wrong — it’s very wrong and unnecessary.

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

Malware does NOT *physically* harm your computer. Period.

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

You just don’t.

Here’s why…

Malware is just software

Malware (viruses, spyware, or whatever) didn’t actually hurt your machine or your hard drive. They’re fine.

Malware is software. Nothing more, nothing less. 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 that malware can be erased.

Erasing malware

I’ll absolutely admit that it may not be pretty. You may have to erase everything, including Windows, your applications, and your data files, but none of that involves replacing hardware. At the worst, it simply means reinstalling Windows and your applications from scratch and restoring your data.

If you’re prepared with good backups, it may also mean restoring a backup image from before the infection.

And yes, you can sometimes even get away with removing the malware via software tools and manual procedures. If the thought of new hardware has entered your mind, I’ll guess that this approach didn’t work.

But shelling out money on a new machine or hard drive should never be the knee-jerk reaction to malware.

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

BIOS infections

There is a class of infection that may potentially affect the BIOS. That’s actually stored in a chip on your computer’s motherboard.


  1. The chances are extremely small that you have malware that impacted your computer’s BIOS in some way. Seriously, it’s just not that common, so don’t jump to that conclusion.
  2. Guess what? BIOSes are, at their core, software. That means that most BIOSes can be “erased” and re-flashed, restored, repaired, or reset.

After all of that, the percentage that remain unfixable is extremely small. It’s not what’s happening to your machine. Trust me on this.

Save your money

In general, even if you’re paying someone else, the worst-case scenario — reinstalling Windows from scratch — is still going to be cheaper than purchasing a brand new machine.

You’ll still have to reinstall all of your applications.

You’ll still have to recover your data from backups.

You may have a newer, shinier, faster machine, depending on how old your existing machine is.

But you’ll also have less money.

And it didn’t have to be that way.

Malware does NOT *physically* harm your computer.

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

Save your money.

This article originally appeared on Ask Leo! where you’ll always find updates as well as the most vibrant discussion. For the latest, subscribe now to The Ask Leo! Newsletter and get a copy of The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition. This ebook will help you identify the most important steps you can take to keep your computer, and yourself, safe as you navigate today’s digital landscape.

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