The majority of threats that land on a Windows PC can be removed by antivirus software while the operating system is running. Some threats on the other hand cannot be fully removed when the system is running.
The only solution in this case is to either boot into a different operating system, restore a previous version of the system from backup, or use bootable security software to remove malicious software this way.
The majority of companies offer bootable versions of their tools. These images can be copied on USB devices or optical discs to boot a computer system from disc or a connected USB Flash Drive then.
Microsoft has now made available a public
beta version of Windows Defender Offline Tool, a software designed to help users remove malware from their Windows PC.
Windows Defender Offline helps protect your PC from malware. Use this tool to install Windows Defender Offline on a startup device, such as a CD, DVD, or a USB flash drive. If your PC later becomes infected with malware, you can use that device to start your PC in a "clean" environment and attempt to remove threats.
The program is offered as a 32-bit or 64-bit web installer for the Windows operating system. Please note the architecture of the installer needs to correspond to the architecture of the target system that you want to scan for viruses. The web installer downloads 214 Megabytes of data at the time of testing. The data can be burned to CD or DVD, put on a USB flash drive or saved as an ISO file.
USB devices will be formatted by the installer. The user is informed about that step during setup. Make sure that important data is backed up or transferred before you run the process.
It is interesting to note that the setup looks almost identical to that of Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper which is also currently offered as a beta version. It looks as if Microsoft has made the decision to rename the program to Windows Defender Offline Tool.
Windows users can then boot from the newly created media to scan their computer for malicious software traces. The interface of the program that you boot into looks almost identical to the Microsoft Security Essentials interface.
This is probably done to provide Windows users with an interface that they know how to work with. Microsoft recently made the announcement that they would integrate Security Essentials into their upcoming operating system Windows 8. (via Mike)
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