Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +

Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +

Editors' Rating:
3.5
Very good
Average User Rating:
3.9
out of 15351 votes
See all user reviews

Quick Specs

Version:
10.4.47.4163
File Size:
2.68MB
Date Added:
December 07, 2012
Price:
Free; paid upgrade available
Operating Systems:
Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7
Total Downloads:
386,704,448
Downloads Last Week:
93,021
Product ranking:
#2 in Anti-Spyware
Additional Requirements:
Not available

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.

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.

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 Not unlike the major interface change that Avast introduced for its fifth version, the interface's quirkiness has been replaced by usability.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.

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.

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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More Products to Consider

All User Reviews
  • All Versions:

    3.9

    out of 15351 votes

    • 5 star: 7199
    • 4 star: 4164
    • 3 star: 1141
    • 2 star: 725
    • 1 star: 2122
  • Current Version:

    3.0

    out of 6 votes

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

    0 stars

    Write review

    Results 1-10 of 320

  • 5 stars

    "Cleaned my computer!"

    October 01, 2014   |   By bravosarah

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    Got rid of 2 viruses not caught by McAffee for FREE! Can opt out of toolbar bundle.

    Cons

    To opt out of toolbar, you must un-check the "add ask toolbar" button before you install, or it could be difficult to undo. More of a Pro than a Con I guess, as most free installations don't have an opt out at all!

    Summary

    I'm very grateful to Ad-Aware. Thank you

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  • 5 stars

    "5 stars for sure"

    October 01, 2014   |   By SydneyAppleBee

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    no dodgy virus will get past Ad Aware, it's worked wonders for my laptop and even after 3 years with this, it's still running as well as it did when I first got it.

    Cons

    Easy decision was to download it.

    Summary

    Keep your antivirus updated and don't visit shady sites and you shouldn't encounter any viruses. It's that simple

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  • 4 stars

    "Best deal so far - free"

    October 01, 2014   |   By breakfast4lunchnow

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    Great alternative to Norton, Kaspersky and AVG. Best of all it's free (unlimited usage) and still gives you top notch security that you would get in other paid versions.

    Cons

    This is the internets gift to us

    Summary

    Definitely one of the most underrated security solutions on this site yet Ad Aware is probably the best one on here.

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  • 4 stars

    "exactly what I need"

    October 01, 2014   |   By SimplyRebecca00

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    this free version protects against all types of threats and doesnt constantly bug you with annoyin pop ups asking you to upgrade.

    Cons

    doesn't need much improvement to be honest

    Summary

    download it, install it and use it. You won't regret it that's for sure

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  • 5 stars

    "never had any problems, keeps system clean"

    October 01, 2014   |   By MarginalMargarine

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    Don't need my antivirus to frustrate me, I just need it to work properly and keep my system clean, ad aware does a great job of that.

    Cons

    Too few to name

    Summary

    No headaches, just a simple and easy to use application for any level of computer user.

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  • 4 stars

    "Nothing better at killing viruses"

    October 01, 2014   |   By lambshanked44

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    It uses very little computer bandwith - which is nice;
    Scans are very fast and Ad Aware is easy to use;
    I Like the new look;
    Updates are really easy.
    I've not had any viruses or malware causing any problems since I've started using Ad-Aware.

    Cons

    If a program is sketchy, but you know and trust it, you will have to manually add it to the list of allowed softwares just like you would on your firewall.

    Summary

    Very satisfied with this and could very much see myself using this for a while

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  • 4 stars

    "Better than alot of the free anti virus."

    October 01, 2014   |   By Big82Ricky

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    Better than my old antivirus, that's for sure. I couldn't figure it out. Ad-aware fixed my computer almost immediatly after running the first scan. I love it. Really good program!

    Cons

    So far it's good.

    Summary

    No longer have to worry when I'm online.

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  • 5 stars

    "Terrific software."

    October 01, 2014   |   By Jorge-feathers

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    Doesn't hog memory at all, doesn't load your computer with junk. Picks up threats instantly and makes it really easy to fix problems on the fly.

    Cons

    Nope, I'm happy with everything.

    Summary

    Total protection and detection of threats.

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  • 4 stars

    "Very good virus detection."

    October 01, 2014   |   By theo92hudson

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    It works. No virus problems for as long as I've had it on my computer. I'm using the free version comes with everything I need. The live protection doesn't slow down by PC and it blocks any incoming threat.

    Cons

    I don't like the toolbar.

    Summary

    Reliable solid antivirus.

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  • 5 stars

    "Just get it. You wont regret it."

    October 01, 2014   |   By D94myers

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.3.6321

    Pros

    This free antivirus program has it all. It includes a powerful firewall, real time protection, mail scanner and more. It doesn't slow your system down I still prefer a separate firewall but as an antivirus program it is perfect. It keeps you away from spyware, trojans and all kinds of viruses. I can really recommend this incredible piece of software.

    Cons

    Not all the features are free.

    Summary

    Ad-aware real-time protection is great.

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  • Results 1-10 of 320

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