Bootable rescue disks are helpful when malware prevents you from running normal antivirus software. These tools let you scan your computer without Windows and usually find the files that antivirus software could ignore. Certain tools are able to scan the Master Boot Record of the hard drive. This is a function that is particularly useful to remove persistent or difficult-to clean threats.

These bootable software tools feature an interface based on text. However, they do have customization options, so you can choose to scan only certain types of files or folders, or even select specific size of files. The most effective of these tools feature a graphic interface and support for more advanced threats like rootkits, and other varieties of ransomware.

AVG Rescue CD, with its easy but comprehensive GUI and numerous scanning options, is a great example. It’s also one among the few programs that can perform a full MBR scanning which is typically impossible with a non bootable software. It’s not the fastest program on this list and its user-friendly text-only interface isn’t suitable for everyone.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk is another great option that is fast, has a well-designed interface and can handle more advanced infections. It comes with features that you’ll rarely see in other bootable antivirus software including the ability to scan boot sectors, hidden startup objects as well as files that aren’t fileless as well as the entire hard drive. You can also remove files to reduce the scanning time. In our tests, it found all malware samples we had sent it as well as some that were able to evade detection by other antivirus programs.