The 16 Best Free Bootable Antivirus Tools of 2024


Microsoft Defender Offline

what we like
  • Multiple exclusion settings for custom scanning

  • Supports virus definition updates directly from CD

  • Have a graphical user interface instead of text

  • Built into newer versions of Windows

what we don't like
  • Download as EXE file instead of downloading directly as ISO

Microsoft Defender Offline (formerly Windows Defender Offline) is a bootable virus scanner from Microsoft with a complete user interface. It's built into Windows 11 and Windows 10, and you can download it for older Windows versions or for newer Windows versions if your computer won't start.

One important feature I appreciate is that its definitions (the rules for finding threats) can be updated directly from the disc, something many bootable virus checkers cannot do. You can also view quarantined files and exclude files, folders, and extension types from scanning.

The program supports quick virus scans, full scans, and custom scans so you can choose your own folders and drives to scan.

Visit the link below to download the tool, or if it's built into your version of Windows, it's available in Settings. In Windows 11 it can be found in: Settings > Privacy & security > Windows Security > Virus & threat protection > Scanning options > Microsoft Defender Antivirus (offline scanning) .

The version available on the download page can burn the software to a disc or USB device, so image burning software is not required.


Dr.Web LiveDisk

what we like
  • Customization options not found in some other launchable AV programs

  • Allows you to define file types that should be scanned

  • Check for virus definition updates from within the software

  • Run from CD or flash drive

what we don't like
  • For some, large installation files may take a while to download

Dr.Web LiveDisk is a free, feature-rich, bootable virus scanner for Windows and Linux.

There are a lot of configurable settings, such as choosing what actions Dr.Web should take when it finds infected, suspicious or untreatable files. Additionally, you can set what should happen when specific issues such as adware, dialers, jokes, hacking tools, and riskware are detected.

The program allows you to exclude directories from scanning, set how large a file can be before it is excluded from scanning, and define the maximum duration for which a single file is allowed to be scanned.

Again, like the Microsoft tools listed above, I like that Dr.Web can check for virus definition updates directly from the program. This means you can reuse the software in the future and all you have to do is update it before scanning.

I used this AV program from a USB device, but it can also be run from a disc. ISO file exceeds 800 MB.


Hiren's BootCD PE

what we like
  • Comes with four virus scanning tools

  • Complete user interface, very similar to Windows PC

  • Includes many other useful programs

what we don't like
  • Probably more than what you are looking for

  • Infrequent updates

Hiren's BootCD PE contains a set of repair tools that are indispensable when you can't boot your computer. In addition to virus scanners from four companies (ESET, McAfee, Kaspersky and Malwarebytes), there are hard drive recovery and backup tools, system information utilities and network scanners.

As shown in the screenshot, this bootable rescue suite lets you use your mouse and navigate the desktop interface just like you would in Windows. I find this easier to use than the text-based programs listed below, and it means it includes other Windows programs such as Command Prompt.

You can also browse your hard drive, so if you know where a nasty virus is located and you wish to delete it yourself, it's fairly easy to do so. This also means you can copy files from your computer if necessary (e.g. for backup reasons).

This is an ISO file. The download page lists all programs included.


Kaspersky Rescue Disk

what we like
  • Allows you to scan specific folders, entire drives, and other areas

  • Scan for many types of malware

  • You can choose which interface to use: graphics or text

  • Includes other tools

what we don't like
  • Large download (over 600 MB)

Kaspersky has a so-called Rescue Disk that scans for viruses, worms, Trojans, malicious tools, adware, dialers and other malicious items. Kaspersky is a well-known name in security software, so I'm glad they made this tool.

You can choose to use graphics mode (recommended) or text-only mode. Your scan options include fileless objects, boot objects , and system drives . You can also scan boot sectors and specific folders.

Kaspersky's rescue software can also browse the file system to copy or delete files. The Firefox browser is also built-in, along with many other tools.

The only drawback I found is that the file is quite large, so it may take some time to download.

On the download page, select the Download tab to get the ISO file.


ESET SysRescue Live

what we like
  • super easy to use

  • Advanced settings (if you want to use them)

  • Complete desktop environment

what we don't like
  • Mass downloads

ESET SysRescue is another bootable virus scanner that you can use for free from a CD, DVD or USB device. It comes from ESET, a company that also sells security software for home users and businesses.

The tool offers a full desktop environment, so if you're uncomfortable with a text-only user interface, you should be okay with the way this tool works. There is a start menu, desktop projects for other tools like GParted, a file browser, and of course a shortcut to ESET SysRescue.

The virus scanner itself is very easy to use and quick to use without any customization. In the Scan on demand page, simply select the option you want to use: Smart scan, which checks only certain areas for malware, specifically in common locations where malware is found; or choose Custom scan to scan any area of ​​the drive Run a deep, comprehensive scan (including the entire area).

However, you can change the advanced settings if needed. Some scan settings include selecting the types of objects to scan, such as files, symbolic links, email files, archives, self-extracting archives, boot sectors, etc. You can also enable heuristics, detect PuP, exclude specific file extensions, and set scan limits for files of specific sizes.

One handy feature I discovered the first time I ran the program was the option to check the disc or memory for errors. You might find that something else is wrong, and it's not really a virus; it's something else. Worth a try!


Komodo Rescue Plate

what we like
  • You can scan specific files/folders or the entire drive

  • Includes option to skip scanning certain files

  • Supports multiple scan types depending on what you want to scan

  • Lets you choose between graphical UI and text-only UI

  • Automatically check for updates

  • Download size is relatively small

what we don't like
  • Hard to use file/folder level scan options

  • The program itself has not been updated in a long time

In addition to regular, installable Comodo antivirus software, Comodo also has a free bootable antivirus program.

Comodo Rescue Disk can be launched from a USB device or disc in text-only mode or a full graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI version has a familiar program interface and is easier to use.

There are three different scan types: Smart Scan , Full Scan or Custom Scan . Smart scans check for viruses and rootkits in memory, boot sectors, autorun entries, and other areas such as the registry and system folders. Custom scans allow you to select individual files and folders to scan instead of your entire drive.

You can also scan archives, enable heuristic scanning, and skip files larger than a specified size.

One advantage of Comodo Rescue Disk is that it includes a familiar desktop-like interface, since it's easier to use than some other text-based scanning tools.


Norton Bootable Recovery Tool

what we like
  • Boot to a fully interactive desktop

  • Mostly automatic; known risks removed for you

what we don't like
  • Zero advanced options means you can't customize it

  • It's not clear what it's looking for

  • Doesn't seem to be keeping up with virus definitions

The makers of the popular Norton antivirus software offer this free bootable recovery tool. It scans your computer for security risks and automatically removes them, or lets you decide what to do if a potential risk exists.

There is also a file retrieval option that helps you copy data from your computer to another drive, such as a removable hard drive. If you don't already have a way to do this, and you're interested in some kind of file copying help, this might be a good option for you.

This is a full desktop experience, so you can use your mouse to navigate. There's also a terminal window for running commands, as well as the Opera web browser if you need it.

If you need help, Norton provides instructions for placing this ISO file on a DVD or USB device.


Anvi rescue disk

what we like
  • really easy to use

  • Lets you scan your entire drive or just certain folders

  • Can run a quick or full scan

  • Ability to repair malicious changes made to the registry

  • Download size is relatively small

what we don't like
  • Unable to scan only specific files

  • No more updates

Anvi Rescue Disk is a very simple bootable virus scanner. There are only three main scan buttons, two sections of the program, and no customization settings.

You can run a quick smart scan, a full system scan, or a custom scan to search for malware within one or more specific folders.

There is also a section for finding and correcting corrupted registry issues that may have been altered by viruses.

One thing I don't like about Anvi Rescue Disk is that you have to scan the entire drive at once - you can't choose to scan individual specific files like you can with regular antivirus software.

I'd recommend any of the above tools first, but if you choose this program, be aware that the software isn't as up-to-date as the competition. It may do a good job of finding some viruses, but it won't catch them all.


Zilia! Live CD

what we like
  • Runs with full desktop interface

  • Allows you to scan the entire drive or only specific folders

  • Includes tools to fix corrupted MBR issues

  • Easier to use than some bootable AV programs

what we don't like
  • Lacks advanced scan settings found in similar programs

  • Unable to scan only specific files

Zilia! LiveCD can only scan an entire drive or an entire folder, so it won't scan just individual files. There is an option to check potentially dangerous file types such as executable files for viruses so that you don't have to scan every file type, which can take a long time.

A utility called Zillya! This bootable disc provides MBR recovery , which scans the MBR for viruses and attempts to repair boot problems caused by a corrupted MBR.

I appreciate all the settings included, as well as the very easy-to-use interface it provides. However, unlike the previous ones on this list, Zillya!’s software is quite outdated and shouldn’t be your first choice.

10 out of 16

AVG Rescue CD

what we like
  • Scans what most bootable AV programs don't

  • Lets you check any connected hard drives for viruses

  • Includes other tools such as hard drive tester

what we don't like
  • Doesn't have a graphical interface like most programs, so it might be difficult to use if you're not used to this type of UI

  • No definition updates provided

You may have heard of AVG. This is their Rescue CD, a text-only free bootable antivirus program. It can check for potentially unwanted programs, scan cookies, look for hidden file extensions, and even scan internal archives.

Before starting the scan, you can choose to check only folders of your choice, only boot sectors, only the registry, or any locally connected hard drives.

Unfortunately, since AVG Rescue CD doesn't offer a graphical interface, navigating the menus can be difficult.

AVG no longer updates or maintains this program, so virus definitions will always be out of date. You can still scan your computer, but it won't catch entirely new threats.

11 of 16

Trend Micro Rescue Disk

what we like
  • There are two types of scans you can run

  • Fairly easy to use considering the lack of advanced options

what we don't like
  • No graphical interface

  • Last updated in 2020

Trend Micro Rescue Disk is another free bootable antivirus tool that does not have a graphical interface, which means you need to use the arrow keys to navigate entirely in text mode.

You can run a quick scan or a full scan, depending on the area you want to check.

Trend Micro is a cybersecurity software company that has been around for a while, but the program hasn't been updated since 2020, which is one of the reasons I ranked it so low on this list.

It is first downloaded as a regular program file containing bootable software. It works with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP. Just choose to install it on a USB device or CD.

12 of 16

Panda Cloud Cleanup Rescue ISO

what we like
  • Automatic updates

  • Can scan specific files, folders and hard drives

  • Small download size (less than 200 MB)

what we don't like
  • Does not run as a true bootable AV program

  • Doesn't work if a virus blocks access to your computer

  • Not as easy to use as similar tools

Panda Rescue ISO uses Panda Cloud Cleaner to scan your computer without any other running processes that could shut down your computer and prevent virus scans.

After trying it, I discovered how it works: First, you have to boot to the disc to prepare your computer to run Panda Cloud Cleaner. Next, your computer will reboot into Windows but start the cleanup program before any other applications start. All other processes will be shut down so that the program is less likely to be terminated by a virus.

One problem with this tool is that it may not work properly if the virus has infected your computer so deeply that you can't even boot into Windows. If this is the case, you will want to try any of the other tools on this list that don't require Windows to start.

13 out of 16

Adaware Live CD

what we like
  • Multiple scan types

  • Easy to use

what we don't like
  • Operating system must be Windows 7 or higher

  • Only as specific as a folder (i.e. you can't scan just a single file)

  • No more updates

Adaware has this free bootable antivirus scanner that's very easy to use. It has a complete user interface, just like desktop-based programs.

You can run several types of scans, so whether you want to quickly check your boot sector for viruses or want to find malware in a specific folder or your entire computer, you can do it all with this program.

On the download page, select amd64 for 64-bit computers or x86 for 32-bit computers. See How to tell if you have Windows 64-bit or 32-bit to learn which download to choose.

14 out of 16

avila rescue system

what we like
  • Use a regular graphical interface instead of just text

  • Includes other tools such as browsers and file explorers

what we don't like
  • Scan the entire partition at once, no need to choose to check only specific files

  • Do not update new definitions

  • Mass downloads

  • Having trouble launching

Avira Rescue System is a free bootable antivirus program that is very easy to use. If you've tried running bootable AV programs before but it was too confusing, try this.

You can't scan individual files, only the entire drive at once, but it comes with other tools that may be useful to you.

While the software itself is easy to use, I found myself regretting downloading it a few times because it didn't always want to work. That said, I 've had it run fine more than once, and it completed the scan without any issues. Of course, your mileage may vary.

15 out of 16

F-Secure Rescue CD

what we like
  • Easy to use as there aren’t too many confusing options

  • Not as big a download as some similar programs

what we don't like
  • No more updates will be performed

  • No advanced scanning options

  • Lacks a familiar graphical user interface

F-Secure Rescue CD is a simple bootable antivirus program. It works without any graphical user interface, so it can be a bit confusing.

There are almost no options or user input other than pressing Enter to confirm the scan has started.

16 of 16

VBA32 rescue

what we like
  • There are many scanning options that can be adjusted

what we don't like
  • Can be difficult to use due to text-only interface

VBA32 doesn't support a graphical interface, but it makes up for it in detailed settings.

There are many options in the program, such as selecting the drive to scan, defining a set of file types to scan, choosing to scan inside the archive, and deciding on the default action when a malicious file is detected.

You can also adjust heuristic settings and update virus definitions directly from a CD or USB drive.

The obvious disadvantage of VBA32 Rescue is that you have to use it in text-only mode, unlike most other tools with a regular user interface.

Another way to scan for viruses during startup is to use an antivirus tool that includes a "Rescue Disk" option (some software may call it something else). Avast Free Antivirus and AVG AntiVirus Free are some examples.

Why are these tools so important? If you've ever been infected by a virus so terrible that your computer won't boot at all, it's hard to know what to do next because your system won't boot!

However, using one of these scanners, you can create a special flash drive or disc from your work computer and then use it on an infected computer to scan the hard drive for viruses - all without booting Windows! It's hard to count how many times I've been relieved to have a few bootable antivirus discs on hand.

Because the most severe viruses cause damage to the parts of your computer that allow it to boot, a bootable virus checker can often be a powerful weapon in your ability to remove the virus and get your computer back up and running.