Free Antivirus Rescue CDs and DVDs
Scan Your System for Malware from a Bootable Rescue CD
This page lists free antivirus rescue CDs and DVDs, that you can boot to and scan your existing system for viruses, spyware and other malware. They are useful if your system has become hopelessly riddled with such malware so that you cannot install an antivirus or anti-spyware tool anymore, or that it interferes with the antivirus software's ability to clean the system. In such a case, the best recourse is to boot from a rescue CD so that your antivirus software is running on a clean system. From that clean system, it will be able to detect and remove viruses without interference from the infection.
The rescue CDs/DVDs listed here are usually provided in the form of an ISO file. This is basically an image of a CD or DVD that contains an operating system like a cut-down version of one of the "Live CD" versions of Linux along with the antivirus software itself. You can't do much when you boot to that system, except to scan for viruses and malware. To use the ISO file, you will need to burn the file to a CD or DVD with a CD and DVD writing software. The ISO has to be written as a "disk image" (the exact words used depends on the software you use), and not as a data file. For example, in Nero Burning ROM, select the option "Burn Image" from the "Recorder" menu. Once this is done, put it in your computer drive and boot from it. (You may have to set your computer to boot from the CD from the BIOS setup screen first.)
Note that the rescue CDs are designed for you to recover from an infected system. They are not designed to protect you from infection. For that, you will need a decent antivirus program. If you can't afford a commercial antivirus program, you can find some free ones on the Free Antivirus Software and Free Online Virus Scans page.
Incidentally, there's no point downloading a rescue CD today in anticipation that you may get infected in the future. Viruses change and "mutate" rapidly. Your rescue CD will be outdated by the time you need it, and won't contain the virus definitions you need to combat your infection. It's best to just bookmark this page and download the CD only when you actually need it. Otherwise you'll just be wasting time (the files are very large).
Free Antivirus Rescue CDs and DVDs
- Windows Defender Offline
When run, the Windows Defender Offline (formerly known as Microsoft Standalone System Security Sweeper) creates a bootable CD that you can use to scan your system for rootkits and other "advanced malware" that a regular antivirus program is unable to detect. If any malware are found, the software can also remove them. Note: Microsoft frequently changes the web addresses of its various pages without automatically redirecting people who land on the old pages to the new one. Should you find that the above link leads you to a File Not Found page or something like that, please let me know and I'll try to update the link.
- AVG Rescue CD
This Linux-based boot disk, containing the AVG antivirus software can be either burned onto a CD or set up on a USB thumb drive for scanning and recovering your system from virus and malware/spyware infections. In addition to the virus scanner and disinfection tools, it also contains a Windows registry editor, a file manager, a hard disk data recovery and undelete tool, ping, text editor and other common Linux software.
- Dr Web LiveCD
Like most (if not all) the other programs listed on this page, this is an ISO file, which you should write to a CD. This will create a bootable rescue disk that you can boot from to clean your computer from viruses and possibly other malware. It boots to 2 possible modes: a graphical mode or a command line "safe" mode.
- Avira Antivir Rescue CD
This bootable rescue CD, containing the Avira Antivir software, can be used to scan and clean a system infected with malware. To use it, burn the ISO as a disk image to your CD or DVD. (See the above description of how to use the ISO file for more information.) When booted up, the user interface is by default in German. Look for the UK flag somewhere at the bottom of the screen and click it to get the English user interface.
- F-Secure Rescue CD
This rescue CD contains an antivirus software that scans all hard disks and USB drives on the computer and renames infected files to have a ".virus" extension. It works on FAT and NTFS drives. If you boot the rescue disk on a computer that has an internet connection, the program will automatically get the latest virus definitions.
- BitDefender Rescue CD
This is a rescue disk containing the BitDefender Antivirus software. To get the file download the file that ends with ".iso", and burn it as a disk image. See the description of how to use the ISO file above for more information.
- PCTools Alternate Operating System Scanner
This is a bootable anti-spyware scanner that is able to disable spyware components that you cannot get rid of while running Windows (since the spyware prevents itself from being removed). After booting to your CD and running this program, you may still want the companion (commercial) Spyware Doctor to get rid of the remaining bits of the spyware on your system. (Note: since this product has not yet been officially released, it's listed only on the "Labs" page. To get it, click the "Labs" link in the "Company" section at the bottom of the page, then scroll down to look for the "Alternate Operating System Scanner".)
- Kaspersky Rescue Disk
This rescue disk contains a bootable CD that will boot to a Linux environment, and run a version of the Kaspersky anti-virus program. Like most of the other links on this page, this is an ISO file.
- Panda RescueCD (direct link to downloadable file)
This rescue CD scans and deletes viruses on your system. Note that it is not able to delete viruses on Windows NTFS and Linux file systems. To use the disk, unzip the file to extract the ISO file within. Then burn the ISO file as a disk image. See the description of how to use the ISO file above for more information.
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