When malware thwarts your ability to run the normal antivirus software, bootable rescue disks can aid. These disks allow you to scan your computer without Windows and often find the files that antivirus software might overlook. Certain tools can scan for the Master Boot Record of the hard drive. This is a feature which is especially useful in removing persistent or difficult to clean-up threats.

These bootable software tools usually provide a basic text interface, however they do have customization options, so you can choose to scan specific folders or files, just sizes or types of files and many more. The top of these tools feature a graphic interface and support for more advanced threats, like rootkits, and other forms of ransomware.

AVG Rescue CD, with its simple but robust GUI and numerous scanning options, is a good example. It’s also among the few programs capable of performing the full MBR scanning which is usually not possible with a non bootable software. It’s not among the fastest programs on this list, and its text-only user interface isn’t for everyone.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk is another great option that’s fast, has user-friendly interface, and supports more advanced viruses. It offers features that you won’t find in other bootable antivirus programs like the ability to scan boot sectors, hidden startup objects as well as files that aren’t fileless as well as the entire hard drive. It can also exclude files to cut down on the time required to scan. In our tests, it identified all the malware samples we sent to it, including some that evaded detection by other antivirus programs.