Virus removal and the sunk cost fallacy

One of the less enjoyable parts of working as a support technician, is virus and spyware removal. It takes time, demands unflinching accuracy, and even when you do everything right, there is no guaranteee that you get everything. The important thing is to understand time management, and make sure to cut your losses before you have spent too much time.
Loss aversion is a basic principle in economic theory. It refers to the tendency of preferring avoidance of loss to acquisition of gains. This relates to the topic at hand because of the sunk cost fallacy, another piece of economic theory, where the subject says “I have too much invested in this, I can’t walk away. I have passed the point of no return.” although the opposite may very well be true. To continue, you may end up wasting even more time before deciding to try another tack, throwing good money after bad, as it were.
As computer technicians, the tools at our disposal for virus and spyware removal are limited, and often rely on the infection being benign enough to be removed fairly simply. Now, your mileage may vary, but I have found a good rule of thumb to be that I spend no more than half the time it would take me to reinstall the computer on attempting manual and automated removal of virii and spyware. Beyond that, I have found that it doesn’t make sense for me to spend more time working on it.




One response to “Virus removal and the sunk cost fallacy”

  1. Me

    Excellent article. Know and Accept when you’ve been beaten and be ready to pull the trigger and nuke when the time comes.

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