Comprehensive List of 26 Bootable Antivirus Rescue CDs for Offline Scanning

A rescue CD is an additional tool provided by most antivirus companies to assist in removing difficult-to-remove malware without booting in to Windows. This is especially useful when the computer is so badly infected that Windows couldn’t be booted up, or is crawling really slowly and you can hardly run any diagnostic tools inside Windows to investigate and clean the virus.

A huge advantage in using a rescue CD compared to the antivirus installed on your computer is the chances of a successful removal is much higher because the malware is inactive since Windows is not even loaded in the first place. Unlike when a virus is active on the system, it can be very resilient and block any security tools from being run, making it really difficult even for experienced users to delete it from the system.

Rescue CD’s mostly come as an ISO image file that can be written to a compact disc (CD) or installed to USB flash drive which is then used to boot up the computer to run the live operating system in memory. Most of the rescue CD’s provided by the antivirus companies are free while there are a few that are exclusively available only to their paid customers. Here is an extensive list of 26 available rescue CD’s that can be downloaded and used for free. 1. ArcaNix

ArcaNix

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 262MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Not Available
Default action(s) for detected items: Ask for action
Last Release: Updated daily
Additional Information: Has basic and advanced modes. The basic mode asks as few questions as possible while the advanced mode gives you complete control over the configuration. Testing shows that the scan is very slow and even missed a publicly released malware sample that we copied to the system.

Download ArcaNix


2. AVG Rescue CD

AVG Rescue CD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 85.9MB
Format: ISO and EXE (install to USB)
Signature Update Method: Online (Automatic), Offline and Download (Manual).
Default action(s) for detected items: Prompt for action (Heal, Rename, Delete, Report)
Last Release: 22 November 2012
Additional Information: Uses menu based selection and not graphical desktop environment. Comes with extra utilities such as Midnight Commander, TrueCrypt, Registry Editor, TestDisk, Smartctl, PhotoRec, Ping and Links. Allows you to install to a bootable USB flash drive from the main menu.

Download AVG Rescue CD


3. Avira AntiVir Rescue System

Avira AntiVir Rescue System

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 262MB
Format: ISO and EXE (burn to CD and save to ISO)
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Repair, rename by adding .vir extension to the file if repair is not possible.
Last Release: Updated daily
Additional Information: Press Alt+F7 to return to graphical user interface if you accidentally end up in command line shell mode. You can launch Midnight Commander, a file manager to assist in backing up files by pressing Alt+F5 only from the shell.

Download Avira AntiVir Rescue System


4. Bitdefender Rescue CD

Bitdefender Rescue CD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 379MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Auto online update on startup.
Default action(s) for detected items: Prompt for action (Disinfect, Rename, Delete)
Last Release: 06 July 2012
Additional Information: Can be installed to USB using UNetbootin. Comes with additional utilities such as GParted, TestDisk, Thunar File Manager, Firefox web browser and Foxit PDF reader.

Download Bitdefender Rescue CD


5. Comodo Rescue Disk

Comodo Rescue Disk

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 50.5MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online and Offline
Default action(s) for detected items: Prompt for action with clean (quarantine) option selected as default.
Last Release: 25 December 2012
Additional Information: Requires downloading more than 100MB of definition files before you can start scanning. Allows you to boot into graphic or text mode. Comes with PCMan File Manager, Midori web browser and screen capturing tool.

Download Comodo Rescue Disk


6. Dr.Web LiveCD

Dr.Web LiveCD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 234MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Attempt to cure, and move to quarantine when failed to cure.
Last Release: 04 February 2013
Additional Information: You can create a LiveUSB by running the shortcut found on the desktop after booting with the LiveCD or download the independent LiveUSB installer. Comes with a mail client Sylpheed, Midnight Commander file manager, ePDFViewer, Firefox, and CureRegistry to fix the registry damages caused by a virus.

Download Dr.Web LiveCD


7. eScan Rescue Disk

eScan Rescue Disk

Price: Free
Operating System: Windows PE
File Size: 325MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Renames infected file by adding .mwt extension.
Last Release: 08 October 2012
Additional Information: Some scanning options such as startup folders, registry and spyware are disabled. Ability to launch a command prompt from the eScanAV AntiVirus Toolkit program.

Download eScan Rescue Disk


8. ESET SysRescue

ESET SysRescue

Price: Available only to ESET users (paid and trial)
Operating System: Windows PE
File Size: 183MB (ISO)
Format: ISO, write to CD/DVD, install to USB
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Automatically quarantine (delete) detected files.
Last Release: Not Applicable
Additional Information: ESET SysRescue can only be created from their security software Smart Security or NOD32. It requires Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) which is 1.7GB in size installed on the computer to create the rescue disc.

Download ESET

9. F-Secure Rescue CD

F-Secure Rescue CD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 140MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Automatic online update before scan and Offline method when definition file is stored in USB
Default action(s) for detected items: Auto disinfect and renamed if a file cannot be disinfected.
Last Release: 29 June 2012
Additional Information: Can be installed to USB using UNetbootin. The official user guide contains detailed step-by-step instructions on how to load the offline virus definition file from USB drive. It is also possible to automate the scanning process without user intervention by pre-loading the virus definition and creating a config file.

Download F-Secure Rescue CD


10. G Data Boot-CD 2013

G Data Boot-CD 2013

Price: Available only to G Data users (paid and trial)
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 264MB (ISO)
Format: write to CD/DVD, save as ISO
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Instantly ask for action when virus is found.
Last Release: Not Applicable
Additional Information: G Data BootCD is a multi engine antivirus that uses avast! and Bitdefender. The BootCD can be created by clicking “More” at the top right of the program and select “Create boot CD”, or run the “Create G Data BootCD” shortcut from start menu.

Download G Data


11. Kaspersky Rescue Disk

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 282MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online or Offline by adding a local source from the Settings area.
Default action(s) for detected items: Prompt for action when scan is completed.
Last Release: Updated daily
Additional Information: Allows you to boot in to graphic or text mode and view hardware information. Kaspersky Rescue Disk comes with Dolphin file manager, Kaspersky Registry Editor and Konqueror web browser. Can be installed to USB using their Kaspersky USB Rescue Disk Maker tool (rescue2usb.exe). Sometimes the scan progress gets stuck at 99%. Take note that ZoneAlarm uses an older build of Kaspersky Rescue Disk.

Download Kaspersky Rescue Disk


12. Norton Bootable Recovery Tool

Norton Bootable Recovery Tool

Price: Requires Norton Product Key
Operating System: Windows PE
File Size: 628MB (ISO)
Format: A (.exe) downloader tool that can install to CD/DVD, USB and generate ISO.
Signature Update Method: Auto online update before scan is run.
Default action(s) for detected items: Prompt for action after finished scanning (Fix or Ignore). The fix action will remove the detected file from the original location, encrypt and store it in C:\NBRT\ folder for restoring the file.
Last Release: 22 August 2012
Additional Information: The installation wizard allows you to burn to CD/DVD, create ISO file, install on USB drive, update USB key definitions and add third party drivers. The installer will also automatically download any latest updates to be added to the bootable recovery tool. Do note that a valid Norton product key is required to be entered before you can scan. Upon further testing, we found that the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool even accepts expired and inactive product keys dating as far back as 2008.

Download Norton Bootable Recovery Tool


13. Panda SafeCD

Panda SafeCD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 245MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online or Offline
Default action(s) for detected items: Automatically delete infected file.
Last Release: 03 April 2012
Additional Information: Old build but virus definition can still be updated.

Download Panda SafeCD


14. PC Tools Alternate Operating System Scanner

PC Tools Alternate Operating System Scanner

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 234MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Not Available
Default action(s) for detected items: Confirm detected files to fix after scanning. The fixed files are renamed by adding .AOSS extension.
Last Release: Updated daily
Additional Information: Comes with additional utilities such as file recovery, file manager and disk detonator (wiping).

Download PC Tools Alternate Operating System Scanner


15. Quick Heal Emergency Disk

Quick Heal Emergency Disk

Price: Available only to Quick Heal users (paid and trial)
Operating System: Windows PE
File Size: 314MB for Quick Heal AntiVirus Pro 2013 + 124MB emgpkg32 zip archive
Format: write to CD/DVD, install to USB
Signature Update Method: Not Available
Default action(s) for detected items: Automatically delete detected items
Last Release: Not Applicable
Additional Information: You can create a free Quick Heal Emergency Disk from any of their desktop security products such as Quick Heal AntiVirus Pro 2013. After downloading, installing and activating the trial, go to Tools > and click on “Create Emergency Disk”. You are required to download the emergency disk package according to your Windows system architecture, extract it and provide the extracted package folder path in Create Emergency Disk wizard.

Download Quick Heal


16. Rising Antivirus Rescue CD

Rising Antivirus Rescue CD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 86.9MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: From USB created with “Backup VirusLib to U Disk” in Rising Antivirus. Refer to the official guide for the step-by-step instructions.
Default action(s) for detected items: Ask for action at end of scan.
Last Release: 30 December 2010
Additional Information: Both the Rising Antivirus for Linux software and the definitions hard coded into the ISO rescue disc are very old. Updating the definitions is possible by loading them from USB which is quite troublesome to create.

Download Rising Antivirus Rescue CD


17. Sophos Bootable Anti-Virus

Sophos Bootable Anti-Virus

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 136MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Not Available
Default action(s) for detected items: The “Recommended Scan” option prompts to confirm renaming the infected file upon detection.
Last Release: 26 October 2012
Additional Information: Requires several steps to create the ISO image file including usage of the command prompt. The detailed instructions can be found on this page.

Download Sophos Bootable Anti-Virus


18. Trend Micro Rescue Disk

Trend Micro Rescue Disk

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 55.6MB
Format: Installer can burn to disc or install to USB
Signature Update Method: Not Available
Default action(s) for detected items: Automatically move detected files to C:\TMRescueDisk\Session\ folder.
Last Release: 26 September 2012
Additional Information: Running the installer will first download the latest virus definition file around 13MB to embed into the rescue disk.

Download Trend Micro Rescue Disk

19. TrustPort System Rescue Disk

TrustPort System Rescue Disk

Price: Available only to TrustPort users (paid and trial)
Operating System: BartPE and Windows PE
File Size: 241MB (ISO Windows PE)
Format: BartPE plugin files and ISO for Windows PE
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Automatically rename file extension by replacing the first character of the extension with the number 0. For example, .exe becomes .0xe
Last Release: Not Applicable
Additional Information: TrustPort is a multi-engine antivirus that uses a combination of the AVG and Bitdefender engines. Windows PE would be a better choice than BartPE because of the support for newer hardware and it is easier to create by just installing the Windows AIK. The only drawback is downloading the huge 1.7GB Windows AIK ISO file, extracting and installing it. After installing WAIK, click on the Antivirus drop down > More Functions > Prepare Windows PE CD.

Download TrustPort


20. VBA32 Rescue

vba32 rescue

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 130MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Attempt to cure and will delete if failed to cure.
Last Release: Updated daily
Additional Information: There are 2 ways to create a bootable USB for VBA32 Rescue. First method is to use their vba32rescue2usb tool which will write the ISO to the USB and make it bootable and the second method is from the VBA32 Rescue environment by selecting the “Create bootable drive” option from menu.

Download VBA32 Rescue


21. VirusBuster Rescue CD

VirusBuster Rescue CD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 143MB (ISO)
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Detected items moved to selected location and the file name will be be renamed to random characters without an extension.
Last Release: Updated daily
Additional Information: VirusBuster products has been withdrawn and Agnitum has acquired their antivirus technology. Oddly that their rescue CD is being recompiled daily to include the latest virus definitions. Other than scanning and cleaning virus, it comes with Midnight Commander file manager and the ability to restore Windows MBR.

Download VirusBuster Rescue CD


22. Windows Defender Offline

Windows Defender Offline

Price: Free
Operating System: Windows PE
File Size: 282MB (ISO)
Format: A (.exe) downloader tool that can install to CD, DVD, USB and generate ISO.
Signature Update Method: Online
Default action(s) for detected items: Clicking the Clean PC button will delete the detected files.
Last Release: 13 September 2012
Additional Information: Using the downloader tool to create the CD, DVD, USB or ISO will automatically download and include the latest virus definitions. Windows Defender Offline is architecture dependent, meaning that if you’re trying to boot up a 32-bit Windows operating system, you will need a 32-bit version of the Windows Defender Offline instead of 64-bit.

Download Windows Defender Offline


23. Zillya! LiveCD

Zillya! LiveCD

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 538MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Not Available
Default action(s) for detected items: Prompt for action at the end of scan and only offer to delete.
Last Release: Updated weekly
Additional Information: Runs the Windows based Zillya! Scanner in Linux using Wine. Has a FAR file manager and MBR recovery tool to fix a corrupted master boot record.

Download Zillya! LiveCD


24. Trinity Rescue Kit

Trinity Rescue Kit Virus Scanning

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 151MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Online
Last Release: 12 April 2011
Additional Information: Trinity Rescue Kit is a rescue disc that comes with a lot of useful utilities to help recover and rescue a Windows system. It contains 5 different antiviruses which is Clam AV, F-Prot, Bitdefender, Vexira(Not Working) and Avast. Clam AV is free to use while F-Prot and Bitdefender runs on trial license. As for Avast, it requires a license key to run. Do note that the computer must be connected to the Internet because each antivirus and latest definitions will only be downloaded upon selecting from the menu.

Download Trinity Rescue Kit


25. Anvi Rescue Disk

Anvi Rescue Disk

Price: Free
Operating System: Linux
File Size: 109MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Not Applicable
Last Release: 04 January 2013
Additional Information: Anvi Rescue Disk is not an antivirus but it aims to remove ransomware and boot sector viruses that are preventing you from booting into Windows. There are 3 scan modes and a registry fixer from the Repair tab that can be restored with a click. The ZIP archive also comes with a BootUsb.exe that allows you to install Anvi Rescue Disk to USB.

Download Anvi Rescue Disk


26. HitmanPro.Kickstart

HitmanPro.Kickstart

Price: Free to scan. Removal of detected items require software activation (paid or trial)
Operating System: Run on your Windows operating system
File Size: 131MB
Format: ISO
Signature Update Method: Not Applicable
Default action(s) for detected items: Quarantine (Delete)
Last Release: 19 December 2012
Additional Information: HitmanPro.Kickstart USB can be created from the HitmanPro program or simply download the provided ISO image file to burn to CD. It is designed to remove ransomware but can also remove any detected malware on your system by uploading suspicious files to their cloud servers to scan with 5 different antivirus engines (Bitdefender, Emsisoft, G Data, Dr.Web and Ikarus). HitmanPro.Kickstart is quite unique compared to the rest of the rescue disk because it runs on top of your Windows OS even if the malware is preventing you from accessing it.

Download HitmanPro.Kickstart


Editor’s Note: avast! has a rescue disc which is a shareware that cost $9.99 for the physical disc to be delivered via mail. Take note that it can take 10-15 days within EU and USA while other countries will take 15-25 days, making it an unsuitable rescue disc if you urgently need it. McAfee too has their own rescue disk called CleanBoot that runs on Windows PE. However it can only be downloaded with a proper grant number provided by the McAfee Technical Support.

If you’re looking to combine multiple antivirus rescue discs and install a multi-boot USB flash drive, SARDU is a great tool to help you achieve that.

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