Bootable USB Antivirus: Ultimate Guide

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Surfing the web has become the part of our everyday lives, but that doesn’t mean that we are always protected from its many dangers. Mostly, those are viruses, ransomware, spyware, or some other kind of malware. To protect yourself from these threats, you use antivirus software. Most of the time, an antivirus is perfectly capable of dealing with any sort of online threat that's trying to find its way on your device.

However, you might run across one of the really evil viruses, and those aren't to be messed around with. One of those can infect your device and take control of your system, locking you out. Viruses like that won't let you do anything. They'll prevent you from deleting them, accessing your antivirus, or in the worst-case scenario, they might not even let you turn on your computer.

Another type of threats might include rootkits. These are special types of mostly malicious software. You can think of them as collections of malware that are designed to provide access to some areas of computer systems that shouldn't be reached in regular, everyday use. Their existence is often concealed by something else that's used as a sort of virtual camouflage.

Rootkits are one of the biggest reasons for doing antivirus scans, since they can do a lot of damage to your system, and more importantly, to your device's safety and security. Rootkits are clever and capable of hiding once they get to the system, which means that there's a strong chance that they won't be detected even then.

So, what do you do in situations that bad? Well, that's when you use bootable antivirus software.

What is bootable antivirus?

Bootable Antivirus is basically your last line of defense when it comes to dealing with a threat that takes the form of a virus or a malware. It's considered to be one of the best virus removal tools, and it helps with these kinds of stubborn and problematic infections. Plus, it’s one of the best methods for dealing with rootkits.

Through the use of a bootable virus scanner, you're able to create a special DVD/CD or a flash drive on another computer, one not affected by the virus. This is called a rescue disc.

Bootable Antivirus

These rescue discs are extremely useful, and they can fight the virus infections and clean your system of them, even if the threat is dormant. As we said, it's the last line of defense, and it's mostly used when the infected system isn't bootable, or when the threat can't be dealt with by regular means of protection.

The bad thing is that there are a lot of viruses and malware that can do this to your computer. That's why you should always try and be careful during your online sessions.

On the other hand, the good thing is that there are so many similar threats, that pretty much every antivirus company has developed and it maintains disk images for these rescue discs.

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What makes them different than regular antivirus?

Antivirus Protection

When it comes to the difference between a regular and a bootable antivirus software, there are some key points.

For example, regular antivirus software is a protection software. It watches over your system, scans for threats, and tries to get rid of them once it finds one. You can think of it as your computer's guardian.

It can be updated, and today, most of the antivirus software takes care of things like that by themselves, without bothering the users and making them do it manually.

Bootable antivirus software, however, isn't created or designed to protect you. Its purpose is to clean up your system after it was infected with troublesome malware. It's used mostly when your regular antivirus can't handle the threat, or when the malware or viruses disable it completely.

Its job is to break into your computer, rush through the barricades that malware and viruses have set, and completely wipe them out. It can't be used as an antivirus program since it searches and destroys, it doesn't protect.

When do you need bootable antivirus?

Because of the constant shifts in the virus designs that antivirus software follows, it's pointless trying to prepare such software in advance. Every day, new viruses and malware are being created and discovered.

Researchers are doing everything in their power to keep up, and to create decent counter-measures for their antivirus programs so that they can protect their users and fight the threat. Still, if there's a flaw in the antivirus, or it wasn't updated in time, it might miss one of the newest viruses.

When to Use Bootable Antivirus

One such virus is all it takes, and if it gets to your system, it might even shut the antivirus off completely. If that happens, you'll be completely exposed and unprotected. Anything that can infect a system is probably going to try, and even get help from the viruses that have already infected you.

The only thing you can do in a situation like that is to create a rescue disc, and even that can be done only after your computer has already been infected. To do that, you'll need to find and use a different computer, since the infected one won't be much help at this point.

How to create and use a rescue disc?

Generally speaking, creating a rescue disc isn't that complicated. All you'll need to find is a CD/DVD/flash drive, and get a working computer, preferably one that isn't infected like the one you're trying to save.

As we said, the software itself can be found at your antivirus provider, and it comes in the form of an ISO file. You'll need to burn that ISO file to a DVD or a CD with a CD/DVD writing software. For that, you can use programs like Nero Burning ROM.

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Rescue Disk

It's important to note here that ISO needs to be written as a 'disk image', and not as a 'data file'. Once you're finished with burning the file, put it into the computer drive, and you'll now be able to boot from it.

Booting takes around 5 - 10 minutes, depending on whether you're doing it from a CD/DVD or from a flash drive. The entire process is relatively short and easy, and we'll explain it.

Steps to follow

If you're booting from the CD/DVD, it'll be done sooner.

  • The first thing to do is to change the boot order in BIOS. You should change it in the way so that CD, BD, or DVD gets listed first. If this isn't done, your computer will simply start normally, and you won't be able to clean it up.
  • Next, you must insert the disc with the antivirus into the disc drive. and after that, restart the computer. You can do this from within Windows, or via the restart button, it makes no difference.
  • After that, follow the restarting process and watch out for the message that says 'Press any key to boot from CD or DVD'. The message will only be displayed for a couple of seconds, so make sure to be quick to react.
  • If you miss the message and do nothing, the computer will follow the boot info on the first boot device listed in BIOS. That's why you set your CD/DVD/BD to be the first option there.
  • The rest of the process will start by itself after that, and depending on the severity of the infection, it might fix your problem, or it might only reduce it. Either way, that's all that you can do by yourself.
  • If you're booting from a USB, the process itself is the same, but it might take a little longer. Apart from that, there's pretty much no difference, so you can follow the previously given instructions for this method as well.

Which is the best bootable antivirus?

As we have already mentioned, almost every big antivirus company has its own bootable rescue tools. Choosing the best ones has proved to be a pretty challenging job, but we have still managed to pick several that are among the best ones. Other than that, it's up to you to choose which one you'll use.

1. HitmanPro Kickstart

HitmanPro is a very popular one. It serves as both anti-malware, and it's often used as a second opinion. Its HitmanPro.Kickstart is a software that you'll use for cleaning your PC up.

It's skilled when it comes to bypassing barricades and protections that ransomware has set up, and it'll easily get to your desktop and boot the system. For creating a rescue disc, you'll first need a HitmanPro license, or alternatively, you can get it from its website.

HitmanPro Kickstart

This is one of the smallest bootable rescue disks, and its size is only 10 MB. Still, it's doing its job properly, and it should be able to help.

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2. Kaspersky Rescue Disk

Kaspersky Rescue Disk is a pretty old software by today's standards, and it was first released back in 2010. It also has an option to update the antivirus, so that your scans won't be outdated.

It's pretty simple when it comes to using it, and it scans boot sectors and even hidden startup options. Despite its age, it's still pretty decent and widely used, so we think that you won't make a mistake if you chose to give it a chance.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

3. Bitdefender Rescue Disk

Bitdefender will boot your device and provide you with a pretty clean and safe Linux-based environment. The process of using it is fairly simple and you shouldn't have any trouble with it.

It will display the graphical desktop and after that, it'll proceed with the scan of your hard disk. All of the possible infections that it finds will be safely removed. You'll be left with a once again clean system. The size of the software is a little bigger than previous ones, and it's around 659 MB.

Bitdefender Rescue Disk

4. Norton Bootable Recovery Tool

This one is even bigger than Bitdefender, and its size is around 862 MB. Still, its service is excellent. It will scan and eliminate any virus that might be opposing the booting of your system.

The Recovery Tool works pretty much the same like the rescue tools based on Linux system, and it'll bring up a desktop from which it scans for the signs of infection.

Norton Bootable Recovery Tool

It's a free tool, but it will still need for you to enter the Norton product's license key. You can signup for its beta program, and then receive the license key.

5. Avira Rescue System

Avira Rescue System will scan and fix all of your malware infections, and after it's done with them, you'll be able to use your device just fine. It runs on Windows and Linux alike, and it offers a repair Wizard that makes using this software incredibly easy.

It'll keep your data safe. If you think that you need assistance, it has an option to establish a connection with the Avira Support.

Avira Rescue System

The rescue system receives daily updates, and most of the viruses and malware are well known to it. Which means better results, and reduced chance of any complications.


Catching a virus online isn't strange or unimaginable. Most of the internet users have already been in such a situation already. Still, the dangers are very different. Also, it doesn't hurt to know how to deal with them if the need arises.

Any of the mentioned bootable antivirus software should be able to help you out in such a situation. Simply follow the instructions. The whole process can be done in less than ten minutes.

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