How do I manage this shortcut?

Many a times, people come up to me asking me to help use the antivirus software on my system to help them clear the “shortcut virus” that affects them. I say “No problem”.

I have been familiar with this kind of malware since around 2011 on my HP Probook 4515s (story for another day). Back then, I would use the antivirus software to scan such viruses.

Well, many times, the “virus” goes away, but once it’s in the device owner’s PC, problem starts again. This has even made some of my friends “format their laptops”-well I did that for my brother also.

Over the years, this “virus” has become my fan and I enjoy picking it out, but sometimes now I just expect everyone to know it, so I decided to put up a blog post about it.

The Problem

Here are some of the complaints I hear.

“All the files on my flash has turned to shortcut”

“My flash is finished! I have all the world virus on it”

“Can you help me format my system? I have virus”

“All my important files are gone! Please help me”

“My hard disk has crashed! Shortcut has killed it”

There are a lot funnier ones I hear; I just hope this summarizes the experience.

What really happened?

Well, I don’t a clear name to call but I think I wouldn’t be wrong to say it’s a malware (i.e. software designed to interfere with a computer’s normal functioning – source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary Office Add-On). That’s just the way I understand computers.

Well, let’s say the virus really attacked you. They come in different forms (that I have seen and worked with): some come as .vbs (Visual Basic Scripts) files, some as .ini (System Information File), some come as skype (folder), and the older ones I have experienced (Recycler, Porn, XXX, etc). I guess you’re still with me.

So, one the system detects that your files “may be in danger” it hides them (calls them its own, so the “Virus” doesn’t attack it and you lose your files). So you don’t get to see them as normal files or folders or anyhow it comes to you. You’ll notice you still see the space occupied by the files.

See your files again

The steps are simple – I guess-after some practice.

To make your files visible, you need to enable some system folder settings called FOLDER OPTIONS


This is where you need to be, now how do we get there?

Step 1

Windows 7

  1. Click/Press the start and type FOLDER OPTIONS
  2. Select the first option that comes to you.

Windows 8 and 8.1

  1. Go to Start Menu and Search for FOLDER OPTIONS under Settings
  2. Or press the key combinations Windows + Q (this takes you to settings search) and type FOLDER OPTIONS.
  3. Select the option that comes to you

Windows 10

  1. Go to your Start Menu and type FOLDER OPTIONS

  2. Select FILE EXPLORER OPTIONS

Step 2

You should see something like this (depending on your Operating System). You only need to go to the second tab.

Now on the second tab

Check the box that says “Show hidden files and folders”

Then scroll down a bit to and un-check “Hide Protected Operating System Files”


Click “Yes”

Then, click “Apply”

When you do this, you should see the files show up, I’ll just use my desktop as an example.

Before

After

Make them whole again

Now, this is what I do. You may have a better way of doing it.

I have a file copy software called “Super Copier”, you can search for it and download it. By default, the software removes file security attributes when copying (except you tamper with its settings).

That’s what the interface looks like when copying (I use the 2.2 beta version-coz I kinda prefer it)

  1. Now, copy out the files you need, probably to a larger storage or create a new folder on your USB Device (if you have the space) and copy the files.
  2. Delete those folders and files
  3. Copy them back
  4. After copying is done, change your FOLDER OPTIONS settings to default.

I guess that’s it.

I hope I was able to help. Please do comment if you have alternatives and better ways of doing this.

Thanks always.

Dara is a Microsoft Certified Professional, .NET Developer with special interests in Windows, Xamarin and Azure. Dara enjoys talking about technology and development platforms. Dara’s passion is to build the next generation of technical geniuses. He studied Computer Science at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA). During his time at FUTA, he was a Microsoft Student Partner and participated in numerous software competitions with his team and won the major national software competitions. Part of them is the ISPON National Software Competition, iDEA Hackathon, NICTED Software Competition amongst many others.

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