Ad-Aware Free gains antivirus capabilities

Paid upgrades to the popular malware remover have offered antivirus support for more than a year, but now that feature, plus a scheduler, are part of the free version.

The paid upgrade versions of the popular malware remover Ad-Aware have offered antivirus support for more than a year, but now that feature, plus a long-awaited scheduler, have been added to the free version.

On Tuesday, Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 8.3 offered users of its free product those two new features in a minor update.

Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 8.3 now offers its users a scheduler.

Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 8.3 finally offers its users a scheduler.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Although the update sounds small, the addition of a scheduler comes after years of the publisher LavaSoft restricting the feature to its paid upgrades as bait to get users to buy a license. Many software publishers have similar business models, though there is an ongoing debate among users as to what is acceptable to restrict and what cripples a program's core functionality. While the scheduler doesn't affect the program's ability to function, many users felt that by forcing them to rely on themselves to run scans, the company was, in effect, making their computers less secure.

The antivirus feature is new to Ad-Aware, having only been introduced in 2008. Originally, the program used Avira's virus detection engine, but since 2009, the detection engine has been provided by Sunbelt Software. These changes to the free version of Ad-Aware put it on more competitive footing with other well-known free security programs, such as AVG, Avast, and Avira.

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