Does factory reset remove virus and malware?

Imagine your Mac as a garden. Just like how a garden needs regular maintenance to thrive, your Mac needs upkeep to perform at its best. However, even with proper care, a garden can fall victim to pests and diseases, just like your Mac can be infected with viruses and malware. In such cases, a factory reset may seem like a tempting solution. But does a factory reset remove viruses and malware on Macs?

Don’t stop now. This article will answer that question and so much more. Keep reading!

What is factory reset?

To understand how a factory reset works, you need to know what it does. A factory reset is a process of erasing all data on your Mac and restoring it to its original state. This means that all installed applications, settings, and user data are wiped clean, leaving you with a blank slate.

Is a factory reset helpful in removing viruses?

The short answer is yes, a factory reset can remove viruses and malware from your Mac. However, it is important to understand that a factory reset should not be the first solution you fall upon. It should be your last resort when all other options fail to eliminate the threat.

Do viruses and malware survive factory resets?

When you reset your Mac, you are essentially removing all the apps and files that could potentially contain viruses and malware. However, this is not a foolproof solution. Some viruses and malware can embed themselves deep into your system, making them difficult to remove.

If the virus or malware has infected the recovery partition or the firmware, a factory reset may not be enough to get rid of it.

Furthermore, a factory reset is not a straightforward process. It requires a bit of technical know-how and experience to execute it properly. If you do not follow the correct steps, you could end up losing all your data permanently, which is a nightmare scenario.

Important note

Before you factory reset your Mac, you should make sure you have a good backup first. However, there is a massive caveat to that. If you suspect your Mac is infected, then you should use a dedicated hard drive to do the backup because there’s a very good chance you’ll be saving the virus at the same time. That means you should be very selective about what files you restore after your factory reset.

How to do a factory reset?

Performing a factory reset on a Mac involves erasing all the data on the hard drive and reinstalling the operating system. This will restore your Mac to its original state, just like it was when you first took it out of the box. It’s important to note that this process will erase all your data, so make sure to back up any important files before proceeding.

If you have an Intel-based Mac, you can follow these steps to perform a factory reset:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Hold down the Command and R keys on your keyboard.
  3. Turn your Mac on and keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears.
  4. Your Mac will boot into recovery mode, and you’ll see a window with several options.
  5. Select Disk Utility > Continue.
  6. In Disk Utility, select your hard drive and click Erase.
  7. Choose a name for the hard drive, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and click Erase.
  8. Once the hard drive is erased, close Disk Utility and select Reinstall macOS from the recovery window.
  9. Follow the on-screen instructions to reinstall the operating system.

For Macs with Apple silicon, here’s how you would perform a factory reset:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the power button to turn your Mac back on until the Apple logo appears.
  3. Wait until you see a window with several options.
  4. Select Disk Utility > Continue.
  5. In Disk Utility, choose your hard drive and then hit Erase.
  6. Name the hard drive, select APFS, and click Erase.
  7. When the hard drive is erased, close Disk Utility.
  8. Select “Reinstall macOS” from the recovery window and follow the prompts to reinstall the operating system.

On some Macs with macOS Monterey and later versions, there’s a feature called Erase Assistant. It allows you to securely erase your Mac’s internal storage, making it very difficult for anyone to recover your personal data. The Erase Assistant provides several options for erasing your data, such as erasing just the data or erasing the data and reinstalling the operating system. This feature can be accessed from System Preferences/Settings (find out more here).

How to avoid infecting Mac with malware and viruses

One of the best ways to help your Mac avoid getting infected with malware and viruses is by regularly running an app like CleanMyMac X. It will scan your entire hard drive looking for malicious software and help you quickly delete anything it finds.

When you download CleanMyMac X and get it installed, all you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Open CleanMyMac X.
  2. Go to Malware Removal from the sidebar.
  3. Click the Scan button.
  4. Once the scan is complete, click Remove to get rid of anything it finds.

Other ways to prevent malware and viruses

To avoid your Mac getting infected without a factory restore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you’ll need to take some preventative steps. Here’s a list of the top things you can do to help prevent malware and viruses on your Mac.

Update your operating system

System Preferences - Software Update

I know it’s easy to be annoyed by how frequently you have to do software updates, but there’s a reason they come out so often. It is especially true for operating system updates — they’re usually released to patch up security flaws. So, staying up to date with the latest releases means your Mac has the best chance of defending itself.

Avoid downloading apps from an untrusted source

This feels like it should be a given, but don’t download anything from a suspicious source. If you’re not using the Mac App Store or Setapp, then there’s no way to know for sure that the software is 100% legitimate and doesn’t contain any security exploits.

Regularly scan with antimalware software

You have already read about this before, but using an antimalware app like CleanMyMac X on a regular basis can save you from a lot of headaches. A good example of this is if you scan at least once a week, you’ll hunt any infection within a few days rather than wait for its symptoms to appear before you realize what you’ve done.

A factory reset can remove viruses and malware from your Mac, but it should be your last resort. If you suspect that your Mac has been infected with a virus or malware, try using antivirus software or seeking professional help before falling upon a factory reset. Taking preventive measures is the best way to protect your Mac and avoid any potential headaches in the future.

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