Popular Anti-Spyware Program Reviews

So you know what spyware is and understand it's threats, and you may even be practicing spyware prevention, but of course this is not enough - you need an anti-spyware program to keep your computer fully safe. Programs, known as spyware cleaners, spyware removers, and anti-spyware applications all work similarly, but their performance can be very different, making it hard to choose a good software. Here, we try to make this process a bit easier for you by providing reviews of the best for-sale and free anti-spyware programs.


Free Anti-Spyware

Spybot Search & Destroy
Overall: Excellent
This is a very user-friendly program that includes a tutorial feature. You can configure it to check for updates automatically and it offers real-time protection about known threats through its Immunize function. The latest version also has a feature called "Secure Shredder" that can be used to permanently delete files from your computer.

AdAware SE Personal
Overall: Very Good
This program is great at detecting and deleting tracking cookies and a post-scan summary provides information about threats and their risk ratings. There is also a help section included. However, to receive automatic updates and real-time protection, you have to upgrade to AdAware Plus ($27). To get around not having automatic updates, you can configure the free version to remind you to check for updates manually. Updates usually come out every few days.

Windows Defender
Overall: Very Good
Offers real-time protection, automatic updates, and a scheduler. It excels in recognizing and blocking spyware attempts to change you settings, edit your Windows registry, or add items to Startup. You can't see the program on your tasks bar, but it's working behind the scenes. It could, however, be more aggressive.


Anti-Spyware To Buy

Spy Sweeper 4.5
Overall: Very Good

This program provides clear information about found threats and attacks and a convenient summary of program status. It removes almost all threats it finds and it also works under Safe Mode and Limited account. However, spyware removal can be slow.

NOD32 Antivirus System 2.5
Overall: Very Good

This application includes detection of known malware with heuristic (rules-based) detection for unknown malware. Unfortunately, its anti-spyware protection isn't as good as its antivirus protection. It blocks about three quarters of spyware installations. It has speedy on-demand and scheduled scanning, and it scans when file is opened, created, or executed. However, numerous configuration and setting options may be confusing for those of us who are not expert users, and the system only removes about half of the threats it detects.

Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus
Overall: Very Good

This application finds most spyware and removes almost all spyware it finds. Scan results include details, but the quarantine list is confusing and uninformative. Automatic updates are also not turned on by default.

ZeroSpyware 2005 3.2
Overall: Good

ZeroSpyware blocks and removes most threats but not all. It offers detailed information about found spyware and it also provides information on known harmless processes. 24/7 live help chat is also provided.

SpyCatcher 2006
Overall: Good

This package is attractive and easy to use. It performs well at detecting and removing spyware. It detects suspicious files by their behavior (heuristic/rules-based technology), but because of this it creates a lot of false positives (saying something it spyware when it's not). However, a Wizard that's included helps you to evaluate suspicious files and there is detailed spyware information available online. There is no full log of the file and Registry traces that have been removed.

Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.0
Overall: Good

This application prevents about half of spyware from installing and doesn't remove everything it finds. The program can't schedule a scan or restore an individual item from quarantine and it only provides limited information about threats. It does however report suspicious activities in a convenient summary and it provides history cleaning and secure deletion. It also tries to identify the source of spyware threats it finds.

Aluria Anti-Spyware 4.0
Overall: Fair

This system completely blocks some spyware threats and completely misses others. Though it will detect many threats during a scan, it will remove only half of those detected. Threat descriptions are detailed but awkward and they are no longer accessible when the threats are quarantined. This system is also hard to navigate and the activity log is disorganized. But, it prevents the installation of all spyware it detects.

Outpost Firewall Pro 3.0
Overall: Lacking

The spyware fighting ability on this suite is just not up to par. It only removes half of the spyware it finds and it only blocks half of the spyware installations it detects. It also provides very little information about threats it finds.


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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser