Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +

CNET Editors' review

The bottom line: The new owners of Lavasoft have revamped Ad-Aware to the point where it has almost nothing in common with its predecessors besides function. It's a good reboot, but it's not out of the woods yet.

Review:
While the name Ad-Aware remains the same as it has for the past 13 years, everything from the user interface to the code powering Ad-Aware 10 is entirely new.

Ad-Aware gets a face-lift

More so than any recent version of Ad-Aware, the suite is usable, lightweight, and worthy of your attention.

Installation
The installation is straightforward, although it still does opt you in by default to the Ad-Aware browser toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox. A software installation ought to get your program installed as quickly as possible, with as little requirement for input from the person installing it. Ad-Aware's installation was zippy and generally painless.

Unlike nearly all of its competitors, it does not require you to register to use the free version or the trials of the paid upgrades. What it does do similarly to its competitors on install is good, though: it automatically downloads new virus definition files and runs a quick scan. A reboot is unfortunately required; that's an occupational hazard for security suites like this one that have deep hooks into the Windows OS.

The new Home landing screen for Ad-Aware 10. It doesn't look much like the old one.

The new Home landing screen for Ad-Aware 10. It doesn't look much like the old one.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Interface
A big reason that the new Ad-Aware stands a good chance of surviving is because it's finally a usable product again. Gone is the tripartite vertical sectioning, replaced instead with a more traditional layout. Not unlike the major interface change that Avast introduced for its fifth version, the interface's quirkiness has been replaced by usability. The interface is divided into three horizontal sections: the top contains navigation to Home, Info, and Options; the second shows you a large, protection status icon with links to dive deeper into recent protection on the right; and the majority of the interface offers additional protection tools such as gaming mode, firewall, and safe browsing.

The interface is multithreaded, which means that using text "breadcrumbs" you can easily find your way back through the interface the way you came, or directly to the Home screen.

Even though tools are categorized into Basic and Advanced, they all have buttons on the main screen for quick toggling. More advanced configuration options are still available, but as with most of the competition, they've been buried one level down to avoid confusing beginners and to keep visual clutter to a minimum. Click the name of any feature and a pop-up provides a brief explanation of what it does. Click the gear icon next to it to dive into config options.

Features and support
Ad-Aware's features have been improved as well. It offers the same level of core protection against malware across the board, in free and paid products. Nag screens have been removed, a silent/gaming mode has been added, and Ad-Aware now gives advanced heuristics and rootkit protection to people using the free version.

The old Ad-Aware 9.5.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Ad-Aware's antivirus engine is powered by Vipre, a well-known security suite that's more popular in Europe than North America. Vipre has never set the security world on fire for its results, but it is a good, solid, middle-of-the-road engine that will detect many, and in some cases most, of the threats you'll face on a regular basis.

The toolbar's been streamlined, stripped of most extraneous features, and offers a search engine powered by upstart Google competitor Blekko. It also detects bad URLs and blocks you from loading them, so it has a legitimate security purpose.

Assouline also said that people can expect to see new features land in Ad-Aware regularly, as the program has adopted an aggressive release cycle not unlike Chrome and Firefox. He cautioned, though, that it was not the six-week cycle that those browsers have.

The differences between the paid versions and the free versions have shrunk, as more features have been front-loaded into the free version. Ad-Aware Personal Security 10 adds reputation and anti-malware filtering for $12 per year. Ad-Aware Pro Security offers e-mail phishing protection, USB guards, a two-way firewall, and network protection at $36 per year. If you don't care about the lack of spam filters or parental controls, or the lack of reputation-based protection, and you trust Ad-Aware -- always a key point -- $36 could be quite a deal. Considering what's offered, it's very nearly priced to disrupt the market.

One interesting problem we encountered was the program updates were pushed out in separate installation files. Unlike most competitors, which offer in-place downloads so that the suite updates without having to run an installer, an offered software update opened a Web site and asked for approval to start downloading.

The new Ad-Aware completed its Quick Scan noticeably faster than its predecessor.

The new Ad-Aware completed its Quick Scan noticeably faster than its predecessor.

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

It's an extra step that's unusual because it leaves the installation of the new security suite version up to the individual, and that could potentially create security risks.

Performance
3 When it comes to threat scanning, our tests on a real-world computer found that the Ad-Aware Pro Security 10 averaged 4 minutes, 23 seconds over three clean installs for its first scan, a competitive score.

We don't have any third-party security efficacy results to share at this time, but Vipre, the company that provides Ad-Aware's engine, received passing grades from AV-Test in 2011 and the first few months of 2012. It wasn't tested by AV-Comparatives.

The new Ad-Aware is off to a good start when it comes to performance. The suite's impact on system performance was slightly better than average.

Security Program Boot time Shutdown time Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 40 6 n/a 395 120 342 17,711
Average of all tested systems (to date) 66.4 15.6 1,195 414 125 347 17,116
Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 10 55.6 14.3 3,215 427 126 345 17,215
Ad-Aware Personal Security 10 63.6 12.5 3,127 412 126 348 16,810
Ad-Aware Pro Security 10 54.3 13.1 3,112 409 126 346 17,049

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

Ad-Aware's lowish impact on computer boot time and shut down time, and average impact on in-use tests, were marred by exceptionally slow scan tests. Nevertheless, these scores were better than we were expecting for a completely new security suite.

Conclusion
The new Ad-Aware is an enormous turn for this longtime player in the Windows security field. Lavasoft's plans to update the suite more regularly than its competition bodes well for keeping people safe independent of traditional annual update schedules. If you trust the Lavasoft and Ad-Aware names, Ad-Aware 10 is worth a close look. However, it's got some important gaps that must be filled, and until we can see the impact of the Ad-Aware engine with the Vipre engine, it will be challenging to honestly evaluate the suite.

If Ad-Aware's reboot takes the way that Webroot's has, then we could be watching the rebirth of yet another aggressive competitor in the field, and at the end of the day that bodes best for your computer security.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    3.8 stars

    out of 14,258 votes

    • 5 star: 6405
    • 4 star: 3904
    • 3 star: 1114
    • 2 star: 723
    • 1 star: 2112
  • Current version:

    3.0 stars

    out of 9 votes

    • 5 star: 2
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 3
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-9 of 9

  • 3.0 stars

    "It's fast and effective."

    September 23, 2012  |   By sabinodg

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Thorough and scans quickly.

    Cons

    Update are slow. Insallation of new versions requires removal of other antivirous programs which I prefer.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (1) (1)

  • 4.0 stars

    "Four stars from me!"

    September 23, 2012  |   By AnyBarto

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Does not drain your system resources like other bulky security suites.

    Cons

    Still looking!

    Summary

    A quick version, nothing really complicate, you don't have to be an expert to work with it. A perfect price-quality: free-efficient. I tried several antivirus software along time, but...

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    Was this review helpful? (0) (1)

  • 5.0 stars

    "Good detector"

    September 23, 2012  |   By Moccacoca

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Considering it's free, it's a great product.

    Cons

    Nothing bad to say

    Summary

    It detects trojans. I had some trojans and it found them. I wouldn't rely heavily on real time protection anyways. You should scan any file that seems suspicious that enters your computer. The real time detection does find viruses. It's very low on memory, and doesn't slow your computer much. I used Lavasoft for a quite a long time. If ad-aware can't delete it for you, you can manually delete it. It healed my computer of the trojans though, so I didn't have to do that.
    Fast, configurable, works with other security programs like Microsoft Essentials.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Too oppressive if you just want on-demand scanning."

    September 21, 2012  |   By mrichson

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Fine for scanning, but all the rest drags my system down.

    Cons

    Ad-Aware has morphed from a scanner to full-fledged AV. I already have AV and don't need a competitor. Typically, it's ill-advised to have more than one AV. All I want is Ad-Aware's on-demand scanner, so I've turned off its features, including load automatically at startup.

    Summary

    I uninstalled an earlier version because of its intrusiveness. Now having tried it again, I may well ditch it...again.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Tech Tracker(daily) asks to updat AdAware Free(I paid)."

    September 20, 2012  |   By marilynbah

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    The Anti Virus works GREAT!

    Cons

    I miss the old screen.

    Summary

    I wish CNET Tech Tracker could see that this HAS been updated!

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

  • 1.0 stars

    "Beware - Don't waste your time with new version"

    September 18, 2012  |   By 99silverbullet

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    None - None

    Cons

    Installed and changed all my personal settings and even wiped out my outlook files.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Very happy with this software"

    September 17, 2012  |   By Atzli

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Does a good job

    Cons

    Sometimes a bit slow

    Summary

    Overall content

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Great step forward!"

    September 15, 2012  |   By Borsh55

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Spyware sucks and you can use this great program to find and eliminate it. Efficient and not heavy at all on my system, superior quality and the customer service is more then professional!
    When installing just follow the instructions. If you read carefully its very easy to instal.

    Cons

    There are no negative commentaries with this product.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "New version of Ad-Aware caused my Dell XP to freeze."

    September 15, 2012  |   By tcd333

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.2.21.3698

    Pros

    Didn't get a chance to evaluate it. Had to almost immediately uninstall the new version.

    Cons

    My Dell XP Pro machine slowed to a crawl and froze right after I installed the new version. I had to uninstall it and revert to version 9.6. If I hear it's changed I'll try it again. Now even the 9.6 stops running and I have to restart it almost daily. I hesitate to try it on my H.P. Win 7 laptop.

    Summary

    My Dell XP Pro machine slowed to a crawl and froze right after I installed the new version. I had to uninstall it and revert to version 9.6.

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Results 1-9 of 9

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