When an antivirus program finds a virus on your computer, it encrypts the file containing it and moves the file to a quarantined folder so that the virus can't cause further damage. Quarantined files with viruses are safe to store, but you have the option of repairing that file and returning it to working order or deleting the file so that it is no longer on your computer.
Deleting an Infected File
If the file that is infected and quarantined is not crucial to operating your system, you can safely delete it. When you delete a quarantined file that is not necessary for your computer's operation, the file is permanently removed from your computer and you can continue to use your computer as you normally would. While quarantined files are safely stored on your computer, they still take up room, so deleting the file can open additional space on your machine.
Removing a file that is under quarantine and is imperative to the operation of one or more programs on your computer may cause a program to stop operating. Before it deletes a quarantined file, your virus software will inform you of the importance of the file and how deleting the file may affect your computer's operation. If the file is crucial to the operating system, you may need to reinstall the operating system if you delete the file.
Worms or Trojans
Viruses that use your computer's registry and startup process, such as a worm or a Trojan virus, should be deleted from quarantine. Since these files overtake your computer before you can start it, adding the file back onto your computer from quarantine could cause issues with how your computer runs. Delete these files from quarantine to remove them from your computer so that no trace of the file remains.
Purpose of Quarantine
Quarantine not only renders a virus useless and keeps the file separate from other files but also gives you the chance to store that file in case you want to repair it. If deleting the file is not an option because the file is crucial to how your computer runs, then leave it in quarantine until you can repair it. Antivirus software is constantly updating, so a new update may be able to fix the problem and restore the file to working condition.
- Photo Credit Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images