Neil J. Rubenking
Lead Analyst for Security
avast! Rescue Disc
When a PC is so afflicted with malware it won't boot, or when malware prevents installation of an antivirus program, a bootable rescue CD can save the day. Most rescue CDs boot into some version of Linux, which imposes some limitations on cleaning Windows-based computers. Because Avast! Rescue Disc ($10, direct) boots into Windows PE (Preinstallation Environment), it gains full access to all elements of the host computer's Windows installation.
Because of licensing restrictions, a product that boots Windows PE can't be given away. Symantec's Norton Bootable Recovery Tool handles licensing by requiring the registration code from Norton AntiVirus 2011 ($39.99 direct, 4.5 stars), Norton Internet Security 2011 ($69.99 direct for three licenses, 4.5 stars), or Norton 360 Version 5.0 ($79.99 direct for three licenses, 4.5 stars) on each use. Avast!'s $10 price is quite reasonable, considering that the previous edition of this product, called "avast! BART CD," sold for $149.
Boot to Repair
There's no installation required with Avast!'s bootable tool. You simply slip it into the drive and boot the computer. If you choose to update virus definitions from the Web you'll need to start the tool's networking system. It's also possible to supply updated definitions on a USB drive.
There is also a host of Free and Open Source Linux Boot CD-DVD's and USB Rescue Operating Systems out there. They can be used to Clean most any System (Windows or Linux, yes Linux can get infected too) of Viruses, while running from the Live Boot Media. And most have File and Partition Recovery Apps on them too. While Avast is my favorite Windows AntiVirus Program and it has always (or always did, I seem to remember the newest 2011 version not having that feature, last time I looked for it) But I have always used the Avast "Scan at Boot Time" feature which was built in to Avast. This is similar to Scanning a System from Live Media. But, it runs in DOS, which can be infected too. But it keeps Windows Viruses from running during the Scan and keeps them from hiding form Avast. But, you have to have a running Windows System to use the "Scan at Boot Time" feature. So, I like the idea of Avast making a Live Boot Virus Repair CD. I'm disappointed in the test results too though, like Neil, who wrote the article above. So, I think I'll be sticking with my Free and Open Source Linux System Rescue CD's. All of these Distros can get you online to Install and Update the AntiVirus Software of your choosing. Some of my favorites that come to mind are. Parted Magic, Utilex (which has Slax, Puppy, Tiny Core, system Rescue CD, Parted Magic, Clonezilla and more), Hirens Boot CD, Which has a MiniXP OS on the CD is a very handy and easy to use OS for Windows only users. And Hirens Boot CD can come in handy if you have a Password on your WinXP Administrator Account and need to login as Administrator like I do, to get the the correct file permissions to delete infect files. And you really should, to protect your System Files. Most of the time a Linux OS running in root mode can do this too, though. And I love working in Linux and haven't used Windows as my main OS in 6 years now. Then there's, Trinity Rescue. Which, the new one is very easy to use and has several Options for automatic scan, virus definition updates and removal. Along with user interactive modes. And it doesn't need allot of memory to run. It will run on 200mb of memory and probably less. If you have 1GB or more of memory in your machine. You can always just boot to most any Live Linux CD-DVD or USB Media. And then just install ClamAV or Avast or what ever is in that Distro's Repositories into the Live System (which will install it in Ram). I have used Fedora, Debian, E-Live in this way. Mint, Peppermint, Debian Mint would be good choices too. Ubuntu is a Resource Hog! So, only use Ubuntu, if you have 2GB or more of memory! The only draw back to Virus Scanning and Removal with a Live Linux CD-DVD or USB, is that you may run out of memory if you are scanning large amounts of data. Say, like a 320GB HD and a 250GB HD which are almost full and you are scanning every file on the both Drives. That's the only way I scan (full scan of every file) when trying to clean up a system. Since you never know where a New Virus or Trojan my be hiding. I love the Gnome Desktop, but it does use more Resources than XFce, LXDE or other "Light Weight Desktops". So, you may want to choose a Live Linux OS with one of the "Lighter Desktops". And anyway, why work in the Command Line, if you don't have to?!;) Then There's System Rescue CD, Insert (by Inside Addition), Rescutux, Knoppix, Debian UDLCD (which will run on 64mb of ram). If you need to backup a System, that is in Good Shape and Clean of Viruses. Which we should all do... But, usually don't:O These Live OS's vary in how much Linux Knowledge you need to work with and some Apps are Command Line only. But, they have step by step Instructions in the Command Line Restoration and Backup Apps. Parted Magic, Clonezilla, Redo, Disk Copy, PING, Mephisto Backup. The GParted and Clonezilla CD (has a Boot Menu that will let you Boot to any Drive on your System that has a working OS and so do many others I mentioned above). GParted, QTParted and Parted, are my favorite Partition Editing Apps. TestDisk is my favorite Partition Recovery App. It is a Command Line only App, but with the Step by Step instructions, you can use this App, just by following the instructions. It has saved my... Widows OS, many times!:) And don't forget... When you just Can Not get your Windows OS Clean, by any means. Then you'll need a trusty Copy of a Windows OEM install CD-DVD to Re-Install Windows. Cause that Backup on your HD is probably infected too, at this point!:( After you have Recovered all of your Needed Files and Backed them up, with a Linux Live OS, that is. Maybe, this would be a good time to just, Go ahead and click on Install (that Install Icon on the Desktop of most Live Linus OS's) to install that Linux Distro to your Hard Drive!;) You can even Resize your Windows Partition and Install Linux on the Same HD as Windows if you don't have another HD to Spare. Then, you can Reformat that Virus Infected Windblows Partition to give you some Backup Space or Reinstall Windblows... If you must... But, go ahead and make it a Duel Boot, Linux and Windows PC!;) You Wont Be Sorry! I know I'm not!:)
More Virus info on my Blog...
Probably the Best Free Security List in the World
Rescue, The LiveCD List
About Mondo Rescue
What is Mondo Rescue ?
Mondo is reliable. It backs up your GNU/Linux server or workstation to tape, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R[W], DVD+R[W], NFS or hard disk partition.
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