7 Antivirus Rescue CDs

Seven different Antivirus Rescue CDs to help fix an infected computer

Viruses are one of the most frequently problems affecting computer systems, and most of the time there isn’t an easy way to deal with this situation, even if they have an antivirus program installed it might not be enough.

When a very tough threat is resisting to be removed from the computer using a regular antivirus program, or when a malware “gains control over your system” and prevents security software for being installed, one of your best option to troubleshoot and fix this problem sometimes is going to be booting the system with a Rescue CD software and run a full virus scan from it, and nowadays many antivirus vendors offer some sort of rescue CD free of charge, but there’s always going to be someone who may charge you for it. Anyways, because we always love free stuff and I am assuming that you do as well, we are going to be looking at seven awesome free solutions to fight back Malware.

The way that a rescue CD works is by booting the infected computer with a different operating system (often this could be by using some sort of Linux distribution), where threats (viruses, trojans, rootkits, etc) are unable to load or run freely, because they were not created to work in a different environment (in other words they are powerless), then from the newly loaded environment you can run a full virus scan, clean and/or delete any malicious software and return to a fully clean computer.

For this review I was able to find about seven different rescue CDs that can be used in the case of a malicious software get in the way, and also you have listed some of their key features:

Note: All the rescue discs listed below are based on some variety of Linux distribution, most of them are downloadable .ISO files. Remember to burn CD or create bootable USB drive using a malware-free computer.

1. AVG Rescue CD:

  • System recovery from viruses and spyware infections.
  • Adaptability for the recovery of both Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems (FAT32 and NTFS file systems) when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • Ability to safe boot from a CD or USB drive.
  • Free support and service for paid license holders of any AVG product.
  • FAQ and Free Forum self-help online support for AVG Free users.
  • MS-DOS like graphical user interface.
  • Support live definition update from the internet and update from definition file in a directory.
  • Comes bundled with some third-party utilities such as file manager, registry editor, TesDisk (Disk data recovery utility), PhotoRec to recover deleted files and more.

AVG Rescue CD

2. Panda Safe CD:

  • Automatic detection and removal of all types of malware.
  • Ability to safe boot from a CD or USB drive.
  • Support using updated signature files.
  • Support recovery for both Microsoft Windows FAT and NTFS file systems when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • MS-DOS like graphical user interface. Once it boots, select your language, choose which drive to scan for viruses (optional) and the rescue CD will immediately start scanning your system.

Panda Safe CD

3. Avira Antivir Rescue CD:

  • Automatic detection and removal of all types of malware.
  • Ability to safe boot from a CD/DVD.
  • Support recovery for both Microsoft Windows FAT and NTFS  file systems when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • Support live definition update from the internet, and also this product is updated daily to always have the most recent security updates available.
  • It is a minimal graphical user interface software with various configuration options and some miscellaneous utilities such a command line utility and more.

Avira Antivir Rescue CD

4. DitDefender Rescue CD:

  • Automatic detection and removal of all types of malware.
  • Ability to safe boot from a CD or USB drive.
  • Support recovery for both Microsoft Windows FAT and NTFS  file systems when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • This is a graphical user interface software that boots into a Linux environment. Once the boot is completed it will try to get the latest updates if an internet connection is available. You can access and copy files from the infected computer to an external USB storage device — what is really interesting is that you can plug a USB storage device at any time and it is going to be recognized by the rescue operating system, which is a feature that I have not seen in any of other products I am mentioning in this article — or from hard-drive to hard-drive, if you have more than one installed in your computer.
  • Some third-party software such as TestDisk to perform a file recovery and/or make non-booting disks bootable again, Gparted free partition manager software, Firefox Web browser and more.

BitDefender Rescue CD

5. Kaspersky Rescue Disk:

  • Automatic detection and removal of all types of malware.
  • Ability to safe boot from a CD or USB drive.
  • Support recovery for both Microsoft Windows FAT and NTFS  file systems when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • Support live update were an internet connection is available.
  • Ability to boot into a command line or graphical user interface.
  • Some third-party utilities such as Web browser and file manager.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

6. F-Secure Rescue CD:

  • Automatic detection and removal of many types of malware. If disinfection is not successful file will be renamed to not be executable anymore and counting that later a full antivirus scan will complete the clean-up.
  • Ability to safe boot from a CD or USB drive.
  • Support recovery for both Microsoft Windows FAT and NTFS  file systems when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • It has a MS-DOS like graphical user interface. Once it boots and you click next the scan will immediately start.
  • No live definition update.
  • No additional third-party tools.

F-Secure Rescue CD

7. PC Tools Alternative Operating System Scanner:

  • Automatic detection and removal of all types of malware.
  • Support recovery for both Microsoft Windows FAT and NTFS  file systems when system doesn’t boot correctly.
  • Built-in command shell.
  • No live update, but they release a new version of this rescue CD every week to handle updates.
  • PC Tools file recovery
  • Partition wipe utility.
  • This is a minimal graphical user interface software.

PC Tools Alternative Operating System Scanner AOSS

Wrapping up

As you can see all the products shown in this article are based on some variety of Linux distribution and most of them share similar features. It will be up to you to choose one to start troubleshooting an infected computer, but in my opinion BitDefender is the one that I would choose to begin troubleshooting, because it comes bundled with the most third-party utilities that can be really useful when rescue is needed in a computer, besides of the virus scan and live definition updates. But  If you run into a malware problem and your normal antivirus does not cut it or your system starts to malfunction, you should try as many of these solutions as you can to solve the problem. Remember that it is always difficult to deal with viruses, and if one rescue CD doesn’t work it doesn’t mean that you are going to have the same results with all the others. Plus you should also follow-up with a virus scan within Windows afterwards.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.