Avast! Be gone!

Uninstallation comes to every app, sooner or later. But like certain horror movie stalwarts, some software just doesn't want to say goodbye. Antivirus tools are among the most reluctant to be removed, and Avast! is no exception. While we've installed and uninstalled Avast! many times through the built-in Add/Remove Programs utility on the Control Panel with no problems, we sympathize with those who do experience issues. Avast! developer Alwil has provided a solution in the form of a free uninstaller, the Alwil Software Uninstall Utility, aka AswClear, which works in Safe Mode. Some folks will stop reading … Read more

Excel-ent trim

When you import data in Excel, you also import any blank spaces that come with it, which isn't a problem in day-to-day use. If you try to process the data, though, extra spaces can lead to problems, such as masking duplicate files from tools designed to find and remove them. Trim Spaces for Excel from Add-in Express is a free Excel add-in that can locate and remove leading and trailing spaces in cells in Excel documents.

We installed Trim Spaces in Excel 2010 and opened a spreadsheet. The Trim Spaces Help file opened automatically, while an tab … Read more

New engines for a new Ad-Aware

The bottom line: One of the first applications built to find and remove malware and spyware, Ad-Aware's reputation is well-justified. The latest version continues the publisher's tradition of adroitly addressing user concerns, yet some annoyances remain.


Ad-Aware 9 continues the development progress that publisher Lavasoft began in the previous version. No longer content with offering only malware protection, Ad-Aware now includes antivirus protections licensed from Sunbelt, the makers of Vipre, as well as interesting in-house improvements.

Lavasoft first started changing Ad-Aware's protection engine more than a year ago in version 8.1, when it introduced Genotype. … Read more

Powerful and nuanced features in CCleaner 3

The freeware CCleaner hasn't seen many major revisions since Piriform launched it in 2004, so when you do see a major update, you can be assured that it's going to come with impressive new tools. CCleaner 3 doesn't disappoint on that front, introducing two major new features that make it worth the upgrade.

One is a drive wiping tool that can wipe all the data from your hard drive, but can also scrub only the available free space. As with many of the tools in CCleaner, it's fairly nuanced and allows for a simple one-pass overwrite, … Read more

Font fix

Windows comes with so many fonts you'd need a warehouse for them all if they were old-fashioned metal typesets. Digital fonts are virtual, but they do consume disk space and memory. They can slow down your boot-up if you've got a lot of them, which is quite possible if you've installed any software. Lots of programs add their own font sets, and Windows loads them all every time you start your PC. FontFrenzy from Sound Doctrine is a free utility that can boost your system's performance by removing and backing up all non-Windows fonts. Most programs … Read more

Basic protection

The bottom line: A new name heralds some big changes for Trend Micro's Titanium suites. The overhaul to Titanium Antivirus+ 2011 brings users a faster suite with a smaller system impact. However, Trend Micro's new security engine is too untested to be able to recommend it.

Review: Trend Micro's updates for 2011 bring a substantially overhauled suite, from the name down to its detection engine. The new version brings a new interface, new cloud-based detection engine, and new features that, on whole, are changes as impressive as those that Norton has gone through the past few years. … Read more

Photo retoucher

Once upon a time, only tabloid newspapers and Soviet dictators had the power to make unwanted objects and people vanish from photographs. Thanks to digital photography and free tools like PhotoWipe from Hanov Solutions, though, anyone can send un-persons down the memory hole. You can also use it to remove signs and logos to meet copyright restrictions, reveal hidden details in your pictures, and make creative images, not just banish old flames and new enemies from your snapshots.

As is fitting for a simple-to-use, highly focused tool, PhotoWipe's interface is sparse; just a basic suite of file menus and … Read more

Protection with a catch

One of the first applications built to find and remove malware and spyware, Ad-Aware's reputation is well-justified. The latest version continues the publisher's tradition of adroitly addressing user concerns, but flaws remain.

Building on the improvements made in version 8, former Ad-Aware users should be glad to hear that the program installs faster than before. This version of Ad-Aware offers two new features to users of the free version that had previously been restricted to the paid upgrades: antivirus protection, and a long-awaited scheduler. The AV protection comes courtesy Sunbelt, makers of Vipre. Ad-Aware 8.3 loads faster … Read more

Pathetic privacy tool

Internet privacy is a major concern these days, and we're definitely interested in any tools that make it easier to keep private information private. Unfortunately, Surf Trail Washer is not an Internet privacy tool that we would recommend.

The program starts off promisingly enough, with what at first glance appears to be a pretty intuitive interface. There are three buttons: Start Automatic Washer, Start Manual Washer, and Options. We started with the Manual Washer to see what would happen. The program, which is compatible with both Firefox and Internet Explorer (we were using the former), scanned our … Read more

PDF opener

PDFs are common in the business world, yet full-featured PDF software is often expensive. Developers have responded with an army of specialized utilities designed to do one or two things as quickly and easily as possible. PDFArea's PDF Protection Remover is a good example. It removes encryption from protected PDF files, including copy, print, and edit protection.

PDF Protection Remover's skinnable interface is just what we like to see in a utility designed to save time and enhance productivity by simplifying common processes: just the basics, clearly laid out. The controls couldn't be simpler, either: Add, Remove, … Read more