Boot from external drive/security

CA2000

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Nov 28, 2020
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I'm sure his has been asked before but..... I have a very old (9 yrs) laptop that is no longer serviceable so I have to replace it. Due to some old programs I need to run (designed for Windows 95 but run fine under Windows 7) I am running 2 drives. The internal drive runs W10 for day to day use, when I need the old programs, I boot off of the second drive (replaced the CD drive. This has worked fine for years.

My question is... As no laptops have CD drives anymore, I have seen that you can use a USB adapter for a second bootable drive which is fine but, if I'm running on the second drive and I were to pick up some sort of virus, could it instantly infect the internal drive? My concern is that anti virus software or the W7 drive does not compare in anyway to what you get with W10 so I want to limit my exposure as much as possible.

Thanks in advance for any advise.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2007
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If both drives are visible in Win 7, then the Win 7 antivirus can protect both.

But the protection might be limited, because the AV is running on Win 7, it would turn on features that can protect Win 7, and possibly omit the protections for Win 10.
 

CA2000

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Nov 28, 2020
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3
The internal drive is W10, the external drive is W7. My concern is if I am booted on the external drive and it somehow gets a virus, can it infect the internal drive even though the machine is not booted on it.

The data on the external drive is so minimual, no real files, just programs and i multiple copies of it so if it were to pick up a virus, I could just reformat and reload the drive, not so with the internal drive.
 
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Regarding the internal drive, you can use Macrium Reflect (free) to make an exact image of the drive and store it on a usb. In times of full infection, you can load Macrium Rescue usb and restore the image and the drive will be good as new.
 

CA2000

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Nov 28, 2020
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So, since you are telling me how to recover the internal drive, I can only assume that the answer to my question is yes, it can become infected even though the computer is running on the external drive.

I'm not sure how you could reasonably keep a 2TB drive updated constantly so a recovery could be made from a usb drive.
 
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Mar 2, 2019
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My concern is if I am booted on the external drive and it somehow gets a virus, can it infect the internal drive even though the machine is not booted on it.
There are 2 possibilities:
1. If your internal drive is of GPT partition style and external one is of MBR partition style then MBR malware cant affect it since MBR malware doesn't work on GPT drives.
2. If your external drive contains malware, the only way it can affect your internal drive is with your help, ex. you run infected executable.

As long as you don't install unsigned software to external drive you'll be fine.
To prevent infection to internal drive, the internal drive should be encrypted, ex. with bitlocker.
 
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" I'm not sure how you could reasonably keep a 2TB drive updated constantly so a recovery could be made from a usb drive. " Well you can do a weekly backup. Macrium allows incremental backups.
 

Cookiegal

Karen
Administrator
Malware Specialist Coordinator
Joined
Aug 27, 2003
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119,108
Lunarlander,

It's best to use the quote feature or just highlight the portion you want to quote with your mouse and then click on reply. This will put the quote in a reply text box and you just have to type your response so less typing for you (or no need to copy/paste). Also, this way users will know who you're quoting without having to look back to see who said what's in quotation marks which avoids confusion. :)
 

managed

Allan
Moderator
Joined
May 24, 2003
Messages
14,614
You can run a linux distro on a Usb stick that loads into ram, like Puppy linux, do your banking etc then when you switch the computer off there is no trace of what you did on the internal drive(s). Very secure.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2020
Messages
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You can run a linux distro on a Usb stick that loads into ram, like Puppy linux, do your banking etc then when you switch the computer off there is no trace of what you did on the internal drive(s). Very secure.
Thank you for your help , your advice suited me!☕
 

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