What is an Antivirus Quarantine? - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Often, when your antivirus software finds a sign of infection, it places the suspect file into quarantine. The quarantine concept can be a bit confusing, so here’s a brief explanation.

The normal way to deal with an infected file is for the antivirus software to ruthlessly delete it. That’s good. In fact, the antivirus software may not only ruthlessly delete the infected file, but also obliterate it so that no portion of the file exists anywhere on your PC’s storage system. That’s a good thing.

But what happens if the file wasn’t infected and, worse, you really need that file? That’s why the concept of quarantine was created.

A quarantined file isn’t deleted. It shows signs of infection, but by being in quarantine, the file has no opportunity to infect your computer. It’s safe. If the file can be fixed and the infection eliminated, the file can be removed from quarantine and put back into service. Or, if the file was falsely identified as being infected, it can be removed from quarantine and reused right away.

Generally speaking, keep files in quarantine for a few weeks or longer. Every so often, review the list of files in quarantine and then just have them rubbed out. After all, if they have been out of commission in quarantine for a long period, you probably didn’t need the files anyway, so they can go away and not be missed.