Note From The Author, Gus
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On a global scale, virus and spyware attacks are commonplace for every PC owner. Years ago I would say such issues affect almost everyone, however, today I would say it undoubtedly affects every single user that accesses the Internet. Thankfully there are many software developers who have developed appropriate spyware protection applications to thwart such attacks.
As many would say technology is a two headed monster. As development continues to increase the performance and use of computer and Internet-related hardware and software, threats from spyware also continue to grow. In this article we would like to present our top ten of the best antispyware programs available on the market today.
Each anti-spyware software review below is based on several factors, such as scanning performance, use of system resources, overall effectiveness of detecting spyware and mall where, tracking behavior and their overall capability of detecting spyware and other computer threats. The observations will include statements from many top commercial software analytics companies which have also conducted their own research on these types of programs. Some spyware removal programs offer trial or even free versions.
Many in this list are quite popular and you have probably seen various advertisements for them. Just keep in mind that advertising that you see on the Internet is just as pervasive for touting the best spyware removal tool as you will find in print and TV media.
This particular review of Lavasoft’s Ad-aware antispyware software is of version 8.3. The first thing that will catch your eye is a very user-friendly interface. The software is simple to use, lightweight, and very effective. The detection technology Lavasoft utilizes, named Genocode, is an important feature of Ad-Aware’s advanced heuristic detection system. In simple terms, this allows scanning to be proactive in scanning for malicious coding in such files as applications and compressed files. The technology uses both manual scanning and real-time reduction. As with most antispyware applications, Ad-Aware is more effective at detection and removal of spyware, adware, and malware than most antivirus products on the market. The requirements to run the software on a PC is fairly minimal, only requiring 512 MB of RAM. In terms of limitations, Ad-Aware does lack anti-spam and e-mail scanning. The going price of $29.95, this makes the number one spot in our reviews of antispyware applications.
In our next review, it is PC Tools version 2011 of Spyware Doctor. Just as with previous versions, the reputation garners the number two spot in our list of top 10 antispyware applications. This is another very user-friendly application and offers a unique, basic interface. As you can see there are no submenus, or dialog boxes. It is a straightforward tabular design with all features only two clicks away. Most applications in this category rely on updating their definition database on some regular basis. Spyware Doctor is different; it utilizes technology to scan and make adjustments on the fly using what they call Intelliscan. The benefit of this is that you do not need a full-time Internet connection in order to make any updates. Initially, we were skeptical with this type of approach, however the software development and coding of this application, though unique, is very effective at identifying potential threats to the computer. If there are any negatives it would be that this approach we use a higher than average amount of system resources and so it would be best if you have a higher performing PC that can handle the additional CPU commitments for this application. I would also recommend that your system has no less than 2 GB of RAM. To cover one PC it will cost you $29.99, so with that you get free technical support via e-mail, telephone, and live chat.
This is the professional version of SUPERAntispyware. It is a very effective scanning and detection piece of software and has a very limited footprint in terms of minimal hard disk space required. The user interface is simple, and the scanning design of the software requires minimal PC resources. The software will detect such security vulnerabilities as spyware, Trojans, adware, and malware. The price for one PC is $29.95.
This is the 2011 version of Webroot’s Spy Sweeper anti spyware software. As with the other antispyware programs reviewed so far, this software also provides a very user-friendly interface. Spy Sweeper provides many options such as game mode, which can be enabled easily due to the simple and clean interface provided. Though the scanning speed of Spy Sweeper is slower than others and tends to use more system resources, it is better than most others at identifying computer threats. Along with manual and auto scanning capabilities, you can set up iterate quick scan, full scan, or customize a scan to suit your personal needs. The detection aspect of Spy Sweeper scans for such malicious coding as adware, malware, keyloggers, spyware, and Trojans. This version also provides anti-phishing, anti-spam, and e-mail scanning, along with scan scheduling and restoration options. The price for one PC is $29.95 and comes with fantastic telephone and e-mail customer support.
Version 4 of CounterSpy by Sunbelt did a very effective job at identifying and detecting spyware. I would have to say that’s though others noted above had good user-friendly interfaces, CounterSpy beats them all as they have done a fantastic job at making their application useful to those with very minimal computer skills. One aspect of how Sunbelt approached the development of the saw for was pre–enabling default settings such as Kernel-level 24/7 Active Protection and other basic detection settings which the novice computer user may not fully understand. Requirements are minimal, having less than 1 GB of RAM on your system will allow CounterSpy to run efficiently and will not degrade system performance. Overall, at $19.95 for one PC, CounterSpy is a very affordable and effective anti-spyware program.
This has been an excellent anti-spyware program for quite some time. Version 1.5 is a very lightweight program, requiring minimal part disk space, and has a good user interface. The two basic scanning modes are quick and full scan. The free version of Malwarebytes can only do manual scanning while the Pro version will allow you to schedule scans. An additional feature of this software is there File Assassin. This allows you to unlock and delete malicious files on your computer that other antispyware applications may be forced to ignore. With a sensible price take of $24.95, this is a very effective and affordable means of spyware protection for your computer.
Though version 4 of SpyHunter is good, it lacks in minimal update support. As with most antispyware programs, SpyHunter relies on a definition database. Since the updates are in frequent, the application may miss the ability to scan for the latest spyware and Trojans from your Internet activity. Unlike all previous applications reviewed here in, the user interface of SpyHunter is somewhat confusing, especially for the novice PC user. With a price of $39.99, we would have to rate this program as being an overrated and not as affordable as others mentioned in this review.
This is a review of version 5 of STOPzilla antispyware software. Though we were overall impressed with the feature set of this application, we were slightly disappointed in the results of testing as it did not fare so well at effectively identifying Trojans and keyloggers. It was just as effective though at identifying typical spyware, adware, and malware. The user interface design for, clean, and user-friendly.the software also has a few missing features that you would find in a product priced at $39.95, including anti-spam and e-mail scanning.
Here is a somewhat newcomer, SpyZooka. This is version 2.5 offered by BluePenguins. It looks good, however the program needs to be strengthened in many critical areas. Very good factor of SpyZooka is that it offers complete support for IE, Firefox, Opera, and Netscape browsers. The price is a typical $29.95, however it just does not perform as well as others noted in this review. At any discount, this software does become an option.
This is an antispyware program offered by FBM Software. Though it did make our list of top ten, ZeroSpyware is not as effective as the others noted in this review. In scanning test, unfortunately many spyware-related files were not detected or cleaned from the system. However, it did do an above average job of detecting Trojans, malware, and worms. With regards to spyware and keyloggers, FBM provides 24/7 live technical support to help clean those malicious files from your computer. ZeroSpyware also is missing other key features such as anti-phishing, anti-spam and e-mail scanning, and did not detect the intrusive adware as other software applications did. It is priced at $29.95.
Hopefully, you can clearly see that though there is a top ten list, there are not but a handful of very effective programs to use. I would say of the top six or seven, it is a matter of personal preference based much on the type of computer system you have. Though they all do an effective job of identifying spyware-related malicious files, some require heavier use of system resources.