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Assuming one can boot into "normal" mode in Windows without any problems, is there a reason to run an anti-virus scan in safe mode instead of "normal" mode?

In which mode would an anti-virus scan find the most trojans, spyware, malware, rootkits, etc?

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Scanning in safe mode is an old solution that no longer works with most malware, offline scans using boot discs is the best solution these days. See my post… – Moab Apr 13 '12 at 15:58
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If the computer is suspected to be infected, then:
- You can boot up a Linux based LiveCD, and scan from there. (One example, BitDefender liveCD)
- You can put the drive into a Linux based box, and use an Anti-virus there (like ESET's NOD32), to scan the drive. (Thus, nothing will get executed, no harm done.)
- In case the two above is not possible, try using Comodo's Cleaning Essentials. It's a toolbox, not an anti-virus product. It requires some knowledge to use, but it's like a swiss knife. It's very handy, really.

Last resort: Install an anti-virus that comes with a Boot-time scan. Like Avast Free. Schedule the scan, sit back and enjoy the reports (False or not).

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So... the safe mode thing won't really work. Most AV products require the full system to boot. Eg: Normal mode. To work correctly. (You can find a lot of "uninstall utilities" to remove AV products. All of them require the computer to boot up in Safe Mode, so they can remove everything. So there is no protection, the AV won't even run in Safe mode I guess.) – Shiki Apr 12 '12 at 21:46

I think your anti-virus program will be able to do a better job in safe mode - less files are loaded so easier to clean if they are infected. But I would only scan in safe mode if I thought I had an infection. I find the freeware version of Malwarebytes very effective when run from safe mode at cleaning malware - use it in conjunction with a good anti-virus program.

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Try the following first, they are free, download, install, update and reboot into Safe Mode to scan. You can download a Malwarebyte, install it and select Full Scan. Remove all infections that it finds after scan. ComboFix is another great tool to find the infections and its free. These tools will work great in safe mode.
There are some portable tools that you can download on not infected PC and update on USB and run the scan and CalmWin Portable is also free.

Also scan online for free with one of the following:
ESET-Online free Scan

F-Prot-Online Scan

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