PC viruses, what is the difference between quarantine and deletion

Between quarantining and deleting the virus there is a big difference. Here's which technique to use depending on your needs

If after the antivirus scan we discover that the computer is infected, we have three different options: clean, delete or quarantine the malware. What are the differences? Which technique should you use if you don't want to delete the infected file?

It all depends on the seriousness of the situation and the "advice" of your antivirus: if the software tells you to delete the infected file, then you should do it, even if you will lose valuable documents. But before arriving at this decision, you should know the differences between quarantining, cleaning or deleting the virus. Each of the three techniques has its merits and flaws, but knowing how to use them is essential to defend yourself from a possible hacker attack. Here's what it means to quarantine, clean or delete a virus.


Quarantining the virus won't remove it from the computer, but it will move it to a safe area of the hard drive so that it can't infect other files. It is the same practice used with people who suffer from some infectious disease: to make them harmless, they are isolated for a more or less short period of time.

Cleaning up a virus

Cleaning up and deleting a virus may seem like two identical terms, but in reality they are not. The concepts are completely different. If you opt to clean the malware, the virus will be deleted, but the file will not. Only the malicious code will be removed from the document so that the user can continue using it.

Deleting a virus

To eliminate the virus at its root, the most effective solution is to delete it. Unfortunately, using this technique will also delete the contents of the infected file. Before arriving at this drastic solution, you need to be sure that it is not possible to solve it with the previously seen techniques. So, if you decide to delete the document it will be impossible to use it in the future.

What technique to choose between quarantine, cleaning and deletion of a virus

There is no technique to be used at any cost, but it is necessary to evaluate on a case-by-case basis. For example, if our computer is infected by a Trojan virus or a worm, we can neither delete nor clean the infected file: the only solution is quarantine. The discourse changes for other types of viruses: very often the only solution is to delete the file and lose all the documents inside. A painful solution, but still the one preferred by antivirus.

What about cleaning the virus? It is usually the first solution you try to use, but the chances of success of the operation are very low.