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Really Free Malware Removal Software Programs Overview, Tricks and Scan Setup Instructions

Updated on April 3, 2011

No-cost Command-line Malicious Software Removal Tool

At first I intended to write about one free malware remover - EMSISOFT anti-malware command-line scanner. It is available as a free downloadable archive which is kept always up-to-date with latest malware definitions. Freeware anti-malware are in rising demand right now, and short instructions on how to properly use this free malware remover are needed by lots of victims of computer infections.

But then I thought: who would search for a command-line scanner? I bet most PC users are unaware of black DOS-like looking windows, and even among those who know about command line console, the majority would prefer traditional GUI-based software. In the world of 3D graphics DOS environment is looked upon as a remnant of the past. Command line scanners are mostly used by IT pros or Unix enthusiasts, so I risked creating a hub that would never attract its audience.

Therefore I decided to slightly broaden the theoretical part of free malware removal options, while still concentrating on the EMSISOFT command line scanner.

What is Malware

As time goes by and we move in the next decennary of the XXIst century, the pests that aim attacking our computers never stop mutating. Their nature and activity patterns change, and so does the approach to naming the threats. In addition to computer viruses which appeared in the last millennium, a number of new types of PC infections appeared. Consider this list:

  • adware;
  • spyware;
  • threatware;
  • badware;
  • rogueware;
  • scam extortion.

Not speaking about the sub-divisions of the malicious programs, it is clearly seen that almost every PC user simply gets confused. How to know what type of infection bypassed my antivirus protection?

That's why it is common to unite the whole range of threats into a single term: malware.

So what is malware?

In short, it's all included in the list above, plus keyloggers, phishing, process injection, browser hijacks, etc. These are most widely known types of malware. Malware is something that should never be allowed to penetrate into a PC because no-one knows what purpose it prosecutes. Malware can display innocent pop-ups, but also steal identity and transmit sensitive private data to remote servers for later use by web criminals. Malware is used for achieving all kinds of goals, none of which you wish to be achieved.

There's one more question often asked by inquisitive PC users:

What is the difference between malware and spyware?

Spyware is limited to drawing money out of the victim's finances. Opposite to viruses which may use infected computers silently for certain activity (like sending spam or redirecting traffic), spyware is created to make money. It may deliver ads (forced to desktop or browser), collect information about surfing habits and transmit it to companies engaged in Internet marketing, keep a log of keyboard activity, etc. Generally speaking, virus and spyware together constitute the most widely known type of malware. A new spyware function is distribution of scams - rogue security software. This is when people are fooled into buying fake antivirus or antispyware porgram.

Malware is a broader term to refer to spyware, backdoors, trojan viruses, worms, etc. However, in most cases anti-spyware programs deal with all those types of malware in addition to common spyware infections. So if you have a solid antispyware protection this most likely means your computer is secured against not only spyware, but also other parasites. It's just been common to use the "antispyware" term for several years, and only recently it started yielding to a broader "anti malware" software which cover a wide range of PC threats. So basically you can't tell what particular anti malware or anti spyware program covers more types of malware unless you read through specs. But even detailed information doesn't give the full overview, that's why the difference between malware and spyware is many cases is little or non-existent.

Free Malware Removal

Removing malware consists of the following steps:

  1. identifying the presense of infections in the system;
  2. locating the exact places where parts of the malware reside;
  3. finding a proper tool for removing malware;
  4. creating conditions for removing malicious software;
  5. completing the malware cleaning process.

So, free malware removers are not the main concern - it's far more important to find out what needs to be deleted from the system. When you have information about the types of malware and their exact locations, it's much easier to find proper free malware removing software.

A free malware removal software can be:

  1. a single executable file (like McAfee stinger); major PC security software vendors offer such tools whenever a certain type of malware takes the Web by storm. For example, such malware removers were released when Nimda worm infected millions of computers worldwide.
  2. a batch file executed in the command line console;
  3. a feature-limited version of commercial anti-malware tools. Sometimes trials allow to remove malware for an evaluation period of two weeks or a month.
  4. Free online virus scan. Such services are provided by industry-leading anti-malware software manufacturers, as well as IT security-related websited which sometimes combine the power of several online virus scanners. Usually companies provide free online malware scan services as a way to attract new customers.

Advantages of a Command-line Anti-Malware Removal Software

Somebody would inevitably ask what advantages a plain-looking black window may have over convenient, pleasant-looking unfolding menus with keyboard shortcuts and mouse support? And that's not to mention the need to type in commands with switches, where every little error results in necessity to start typing all from scratch.

However, let's look at strong points of free malware removers anyway.

  • They never expire, never stop removing malware, never require subscription renewal;
  • Being command console applications, anti-malware tools use very little system resources, unlike desktop software with fancy graphics and transparency effects;
  • They do not require installation and can be removed simply by deleting a folder;
  • They remove malware even in Safe Mode and when desktop programs are disabled by smart viruses. In fact, command-line scanners perform best in Safe Mode.
  • They are easy to automate by creating simple .bat files. Double-click one to update definitions, initiate a scan and remove detected malware;
  • They are easy to transfer to portable devices.

I'd add that command-line based free malware removal programs help users to discover the hidden part of the system where certain tasks are performed faster than in GUI environment.

EMSISOFT a-squared

A-squared offers a cool command-line scanner that saved lots of users in frustration after their computers underwent malware attacks.

Diverse scams circulating on the Web are smart enough to get onto PC's protected by popular security software. Unfortunately, resident monitoring is often helpless when trojans bring SmitFraud infections with them. And once pop-ups appear on the desktop screaming about spyware infections detected, users feel at loss. How to remove malware?

There are essentially two ways to recover the PC:

  1. Burn a bootable CD with antivirus and antispyware, providing latest signature files.
  2. Run a command-line scanner which works both in Normal and Safe Mode.

a-squared anti-malware is exactly of this type of scanners. The manufacturer offers it for download with no strings attached (no need to enter email, confirm, subscribe to newsletter, etc.), conveniently storing the archived file with latest anti malware definitions.

a-squared makes removing malware a no sweat task. Just a few command switches are needed to instruct the scanner:

  • to scan memory;
  • to use heuristics;
  • to clean the infected files;
  • to remove those files when cleaning fails.

It is worth noting that a-squared by EMSISOFT is better at removing malware than most antivirus tools because it incorporates the detection mechanism not limited to common virus infections. Its scanning engine is designed to fight a broader range of types of malware, that's why it may perform at a higher efficiency rate than already installed desktop security software.

In particular, free malware remover from a-squared is capable of fighting:

  • spyware;
  • adware;
  • trojans;
  • worms;
  • keyloggers;
  • rootkits;
  • dialers.

a-squared malware remover is capable of scanning Alternate Data Streams (ADS) on NTFS file systems and archives.

A typical command to instruct a-squared to start scan and deletion process looks like on the screenshot below.

a-squared free anti-malware command-line scanner switches
a-squared free anti-malware command-line scanner switches

The legend is iterpreted the following way:

E:\a2cmd\ shows the location of a-squared program files. In my case Windows is installed on E:\ drive, therefore I unpacked the files to the root.

/deep is one of the three scanning modes: quick, smart, deep. For an infected computer, I suggest using the deep mode to maximize the chances of successful malware deletion.

/n instructs the malware remover to scan the NTFS file system for Alternate Data Streams.

/h turns on the heuristics scan mode. It is used to identify unknown malware by suspicious behavior patterns.

/m stands for "memory scanning". I see no reason why it shouldn't be used.

/t scans for malware traces.

/r reveals Riskware - not yet defined occurrences or types of malware, yet suspicious in the digital eyes of the a-squared scanning engine.

/d is the most expected command. Every owner of a malware-infected computer would want this ON because it stands for MALWARE REMOVAL ;)

Below is the screenshot to show what happens when ENTER is pressed with the above described command parameters. The figure [404] in square brackets shows the number of scanned files.

a-squared scan and removal in progress
a-squared scan and removal in progress

Some more words about a-squared free antimalware

EMSISOFT free malware remover is a perfect tool for on-demand anti-malware scans. It needs no installation, doesn't add any files into Windows system directories, and makes no changes to the registry. About 26 megabytes of space is all that this malware remover needs.

a-squared designed its command-line scanner to remove malware an easy way with no special knowledge needed.

This malware remover is capable of deleting a number of rogue security programs like XP antivirus, and other types of malware.

P.S. If you find this information useful, please feel free to share it with your friends and those in need of removing malware.

Kaspersky(R) Virus Removal Tools

Kaspersky Labs released a command-line tool to remove a number of malware infections. It is a 120KB in size so even those with dial-up connection can use it.

The .com file can be executed straight from within Windows Explorer - just double-click on the tool to start scanning the whole system.

Kaspersky tool supports the following switches:

  • /s[n] - to force scanning of hard drives.
  • /n - to force scanning of mapped network drives.
  • /path <path to scan> - to force scanning specified path.
  • /rd - to force restoring registry values.
  • /y - do not request key press (to automate the scan).
  • /nr - do not reboot system automatically in any cases.

There are five return codes that explain the results of the scan.

  • 0 - nothing to clean (good!)
  • 1 - system was infected.
  • 2 - to finalize removal of infection you should reboot system.
  • 3 - to finalize removal of infection you should reboot system and start this program the second time.
  • 4 - program error.

If you know what type of virus hit your Windows station and all other remedies didn't work, look through the list of supported infections. If yours is listed among others, download Kaspersky's removal tool.

Kaspersky Command-line Scanner

Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool (command-line scanner)
Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool (command-line scanner)

Malware bytes antimalware

Malware bytes is increasing in popularity at a fast pace. This little program with minimalistic interface has saved countless hours of struggle for victims of Virtumonde trojan virus. Since the release of version 1.31 I noticed that visitors of my Virtumonde hub got to praise this malware removal tool for its efficacy in fighting the dread presence of Virtumonde variants. The number of positive comments is so impressive that I believe I can recommend this program to all PC owners who can't kick the malware out of their computers.

Malware bytes anti malware features intuitive interface that's easy to use no matter what your PC experience is. There are two types of scan to choose from: quick and full. If you run Malwarebytes for the first time, do a full scan to make sure there's not a single dark corner in your system where Malwarebytes hasn't inspected every byte of the data. Be sure to update the program with latest definitions before scanning as you want it to have the fresh footprints of digital parasites.

Malwarebyte's in its basic edition is not just a scanner (unlike many other similar products on the market) but a fully-functional free malware remover. It really removes what it finds, and it finds a lot of types of malware!

Malwarebyte's peacefully resides in the system with antivirus software installed, so normally there's no need to worry about compatibility problems.

Malwarebyte's Anti-malware

Malwarebyte's anti malware scanner tab
Malwarebyte's anti malware scanner tab
EMSISOFT Anti-Malware
EMSISOFT Anti-Malware


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    • profile image

      Brak 3 years ago

      Excellent article

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 6 years ago from Lithuania

      Tim, well, comments are dated. Hubs are not, and indeed they tend to get outdated. That's why I don't have too many of them ;-) so that it's a bit easier to track changes that happen in respective areas. Sometimes I have to omit certain parts or add new ones. Some software is discontinued, other titles appear.

    • profile image

      Tim 6 years ago

      I really do not care for sites that give you what could be great information, but you don't know when they were published? 2011, 2009, 2002?

      Why do people that do blogs and help pages think dates on their work and responses are better off Not Dated???

    • profile image

      venu gopal 7 years ago

      excellent! this article is of great help.


    • profile image

      Carlene B Nitkowsski 7 years ago

      This stupid "content advisor" keeps blocking everything I try to do to remove it. Do u think one of these can help me?

    • profile image

      Cblunk 7 years ago from Austin., AR

      Great Article! I've been a computer tech for over 10 years using SuperAntSpyware & MalwareBytes for about 2 years now with Great success, but am Very pleased to learn of some Very Effective New Tools to make my service to others Better..

      Thanks, & Looking Forward to Learning More!

      Chris Blunk

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 7 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      Thanks for this very informative hub. It really very helpful to understand what is malware. Many times it happens that we unknowingly click on page which is suspicious . Having best anti virus can get rid from this problem up to certain extent.

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 7 years ago from Lithuania

      Thanks for stopping by, adorababy!

      Well, I think if there were such a SUPER software, it would cost heaps of money and inevitably some day it would be compromised by smart hackers.

    • adorababy profile image

      adorababy 7 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Thanks for clearing the differences between the different types of malicious ware out there. This whole malicious ware and anti malicious software is just an awful cycle. I wish there was a SUPER software out there that would put an end to this cycle.

    • Chris Fletcher profile image

      Chris Fletcher 7 years ago

      I always run removal software, esp. after updated (from MS :) GOod tips here.

    • efficientwebsite profile image

      efficientwebsite 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Thank you for this great informations

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is good information and an interesting topic to write on. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • profile image

      Dean Larson 7 years ago

      Few days ago reloaded Windows. When I tried to download AVG-free got hi-jacked: can open to homepage but any attempt at function results in a blocking window: "exception occurred in 3rd party module"

      Loaded Malwarebyte via START---SEARCH. Scanned. Found a start-page hijacker! ("Yes!") Quarantined then removed. Restarted.

      Still there. ("Crap!")

      So Malwarbyte is not quite the be-all, end-all.

    • SpiritLeo profile image

      SpiritLeo 7 years ago from Europe

      Thanks for sharing! I personally had a very big problem with my PC recently. My PC was out of control, I couldn't even open My Computer. I asked for help on one web site that provide very useful info based on this and they recommended me to scan the pc using Malwarebyte's anti-malwarewith and Dr.Web. It helped a lot. Wish everybody a healthy PC!!!

    • samironwebtrack profile image

      samironwebtrack 7 years ago

      excellent hub, the way you describe is good. thanks a lot.

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 8 years ago from Lithuania

      Detoxtm try reinstalling your games. Chances are, malware affected some core file or changed a registry entry.

    • profile image

      Detoxtm 8 years ago

      well I finished the scans and my comp is running better but my problem with my games is still there. hmm. Well okay here is what's happening maybe you can help me. Whenever I play any of my game like GTA4, Fallout 3, and Borderlands(which I want to play the most) Every few minute the game with slow done to a crawl my fps hit rock bottom and its like a LAG Circus where the ride are all free! and then for about 3-5 minute it'll do that and then return to normal speed and then back to the crawling speed I really don't know what else to do I've rebooted my comp, updates my drivers, I watched my process cpu usage and it spikes when ever it happens but only the game is in use. so im not sure if there is a hidden program running or something, I know its not any update or scanners running. I hope I can fix it soon cause its been going on for a month now. I have done everything I can think of from and even did all these awesome thing I read from Which I recommend anyone should check out to help speed up your PC if you use XP really good tip at that site. So if you can help let me know via you comments here or you can email me at thanks and sorry about the long post :)

    • profile image

      Detoxtm 8 years ago

      Btw MBAM ROCKS!! thanks Charlemont! Mwauh!!

    • profile image

      Detoxtm 8 years ago

      SWEET YOUR THE BEST!! I been having problems when playing games and I been adjusting my computer, monitoring my process and trying to find out any way possible to fix my problem. So the only thing else that I could think the problem could be is malware up the A$$ on my comp be cause I am constantly downloading crap and install games and programs u know the usual. anyway I start the A-squared command prompt scanner and its finding and REMOVING the trash my other scanners have found already but I guess my scanners got lazy and said "screw it let the human figure out how to remove it cause I can't do it." lol TAHNKS A BUNCH!! I'll let you know if it help my Gaming out but if not at least my comp is a ton cleaner already lol.

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 8 years ago from Lithuania

      mechanix44 it's possible there's some part of your system corrupt. Probably you should perform some sort of system recovery (Setup CD, System Restore, Recovery Console etc.) or do a complete reinstall.

    • profile image

      mechanix44 8 years ago a problem. Every time I try to run a online virus scanner or one from my computer, it either says that there is a problem with the internet site/explorer or my machine blue screens and shuts down. What do I do?

    • profile image

      jdhenning 8 years ago

      free ?????????????

    • profile image

      djgaths 8 years ago

      I love the way this article is written so informative

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 8 years ago from India

      I'm a bit puzzled as I have no computer background as you do, but I think I need to update my anti virus definitions.

    • vintage chic profile image

      vintage chic 8 years ago


    • profile image

      beachboy 8 years ago

      Excellent article. What is your occupation?

      You did a fine job of explaining this.

      Thank you...

    • profile image

      noame 8 years ago

      malware anti-virus,,... does it work even if the windows itself remain hidden/

    • profile image

      Read 2 Know 8 years ago

      Nice explanation here! Not aware of the commands mentioned here before. So, this is something new for me. Thanks :)

    • profile image

      Oliver 8 years ago

      Hey! :)

      Just saw your comment on my blog on the free ABG license... thanks a lot for the comment. I have recently installed Malwarebytes to get rid of a virus that no other program could get rid of, it's one of the best programs I've stumbled across on the net, and can't thank it enough!

      Cheers, I hope to see you around :)

    • profile image

      Doc Holiday 9 years ago

      I think the article is better than populist verbatim that gets lost in the mainscream shuffle. Command line scanners are a great niche that needs to be filled. Thanks for the article,

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 9 years ago from Lithuania

      Thank you,

      BeatsMe ;) I will add more stuff soon.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 9 years ago

      Hi Charlemont, good to know there's someone like you informing us about these things. :)

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Good hub on a timely topic! Malware is such a prevelant problem with me...I don't know where I get it from but I literally have to re-install my computer sometimes as much as twice a month! Ah! Frustrating. Thanks for the info!

    • charlemont profile image

      charlemont 9 years ago from Lithuania

      Ooops... just corrected about a dozen of spelling typoos.

      Thanks for your comment, MtnMan56!

    • MtnMan56 profile image

      MtnMan56 9 years ago

      Excellent article! Will save for future reference.