Let’s face it: One of the primary Windows admin tasks is keeping machines free of infection. It’s inevitable. End users will open files, install cutesy apps, and go to sites they shouldn’t go to. When they do these things, their machines get infected. When their machines get infected, you could wind up fighting a losing battle–unless you have the right tools.

But sometimes the antivirus tools installed on the machine just aren’t enough. When that time comes, you’ll be glad you have one (or more) tools on your USB drive to help you out. I’ve found five such tools that could certainly get you out of a serious pinch. All these tools are portable and work like champs.

1: ClamWin Portable

ClamWin Portable (Figure A) is very much like its big brother: It’s free, open source, and does a great job of disinfecting machines. ClamWin has a high detection rate, has frequently updated definitions, and provides an easy-to-use graphical interface. ClamWin doesn’t offer a real-time scanner, but that’s not an issue for a portable version. This is my go-to portable virus scanning software.

Figure A

2: Sophos Anti-Rootkit Portable

Sophos Anti Rootkit Portable (Figure B) is one of those tools you hope you never have to use– but you know, at some point, you will. Sophos is remarkably adept at locating root kits, especially for a portable app. It scans, detects, and removes rootkits, it’s free, it supports Windows XP, Vista, and 7, and it works alongside your existing antivirus. I have found Sophos reliable enough to run even while the PC being scanned is in use.

Figure B

3: Emsisoft Emergency Toolkit

Emsisoft Emergency Toolkit (Figure C) is a powerful malware removal tool that can scan for, and remove, more than six million dangers to your PC. Emsisoft Emergency Toolkit has both a GUI and a command-line version, so you can scan your machine even if there are problems with the GUI. With this toolkit, you not only get the malware scanner, you get HiJackFree and BlitzBlank as well. Emsisoft offers a free download, but you can also purchase a pre-compiled USB stick.

Figure C

4: VIPRE Rescue

VIPRE Rescue (Figure D) is that tool you use when your machine is severely infected. VIPRE is run in safe mode and does not depend upon a GUI tool for use. You double-click the executable and a command window opens with the scanner running (and running at blazing speeds). If you already use the full version of VIPRE, you can still run this tool if your machine becomes so infected, VIPRE won’t run.

Figure D

5: Spybot – Search & Destroy Portable

Spybot – Search & Destroy Portable (Figure E) is the portable version of the massively popular full Spybot Search & Destroy. This anti-malware tool does a great job of finding and removing malicious software–all from your flash drive. And Spybot has a unique feature that will help you back up your registry before you begin the scan. Should Spybot fubar your PC’s registry, you’ll have a backup to restore to, safe and sound.

Figure E

Other picks?

You know that time is coming when you’ll require the assistance of portable antivirus and/or anti-malware tool. It’s a shame that this is such a big part of the job, but it’s inevitable. Make sure you’re always armed with the tools to combat this plague by keeping a few of these portable apps with you.

Do you have a favorite portable AV tools? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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