Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339 - 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 Not unlike the major interface change that Avast introduced for its fifth version, the interface's quirkiness has been replaced by usability.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:

    3.1 stars

    out of 10 votes

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

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 10

  • 5.0 stars

    "best adware system there is and its free!"

    February 26, 2013  |   By tycosamspo

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    easy to use, keeps on updating itself, very reliable, the free service is a real gift

    Cons

    until recently it was difficult to install if any other security program was on the computer. Now that there is a compatible version that problem is conquered

    Summary

    this is a great program and a great service to all internet users

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

  • 5.0 stars

    "I do not find it is a RAM destroyer!"

    February 25, 2013  |   By Vrak007

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    Does not slow down my desktop, minimal memory occupation, fast response and easy to use.

    Cons

    I can not tell anything against

    Summary

    Many people are saying that Ad-Aware it is just a piece of sh...t, a nightmare , slowing down their computer, BSOD any many, many bad words. Nothing against them, but if you are a risk taker and you like go places that downloads things illegally or Adults sites, better get a professional software. Ad-Aware is just doing its job at normal surf navigation, at a normal computer usage and etc. And for gods sake its free. Anyway for me works just fine and I can not complain.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Doesn't slow the machine."

    February 25, 2013  |   By Fixmeonce

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    First deep scan took a good time(long enough). Second one, 11 minutes. Good improvements but please take out Blekko!

    Cons

    Blekko, Blekko...

    Summary

    Easy to set up. Followed the directions, turned it on and forgot it was there. Lets you know if it finds something suspicious or else it is invisible. Have not found anything easier that works and it's free.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Detection: Good!"

    February 25, 2013  |   By Directclick

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    For a free version is very much good for those who use simple internet. Nice interface.

    Cons

    Not really any cons.

    Summary

    It's surprising how accurately and thoroughly ad-aware scans and detects malware on my pc than others anti viruses I have tried. I would never expect this high level of protection from a free product. Scans are faster than the last version but still slightly long.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Ease of use"

    February 25, 2013  |   By willmino

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    Easy to load, update and set schedule for scans.

    Cons

    Full scans take a long time. I schedule mine to start near midnight.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "I removed it after the last update"

    February 24, 2013  |   By bormanator

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    It used to work OK til the latest release

    Cons

    I could not get rid of the SPAM bar at the bottom of the screen.

    Summary

    I use AVG and Avast and Zone Alarm.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Installation acts like malware"

    February 24, 2013  |   By dgplain

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    It runs well and seems to protect well.

    Cons

    It hijacked all of my browsers (Firefox, IE, and Chrome). It took over all search functions, embedded itself as my home page, and always came up when starting. It required searching the internet to completely undo everything that they changed. This anti-malware program acted like malware.

    Summary

    Unless you like a program that acts like malware, I suggest that you look elsewhere.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Download Hell"

    February 21, 2013  |   By SenatorQ

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    None to speak of

    Cons

    Download failed miserably, and then failed to remove what it had partially installed, leaving a program that is partially running and blocking other programs from running. An attempt to remove it using the control panel installer, failed as it can't find what is in there. Ad-Aware used to be a good system, but since the hostile takeover and revamp, this system has proven problematic (Trying to be diplomatic here, my real fealings woould be censored) at best. My advise to would be users is do not walk away, close the window to install, and then forget Adaware even existed, it's not worth the grief, as I must now hire someone to clean what is in there out!

    Summary

    Avoid at all costs, the new format will not help, but rather harm your system.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Worse than the adware it claims to protect you against."

    February 17, 2013  |   By dtutelman

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    None so far. I haven't had a chance to run it so far, because I'm too busy UN-doing the unwanted things its installation did.

    Cons

    It insinuates Lavasoft (in other words, ITS OWN ADWARE) into a bunch of my operations. So far, I have been unable to remove them successfully; they keep coming back.

    Summary

    Installation has screwed up my normal operation. So far (and I'm nowhere near fixed yet, so I don't know what else it may have done):
    * It wiped out the current pages in my default browser (Chrome), and restarted Chrome with ONLY its own page. I keep some default pages up on Chrome, and it took me five minutes to restore them. Yeccchhh!
    * It installed the Lavasoft page as my home page in Firefox. I am unable to change it. This is REALLY annoying. It treats any attempt to change back to Google as my home page as a violation of something it is protecting. Even clicking, "Yeah, go ahead and do it," does not get the job done; when I start Firefox again, we're back to Lavasoft as the home page.
    What a mess!

    Updated on Feb 17, 2013

    Well, I did manage to fix the problems the installation introduced. Then I ran a scan. It was a Full scan, and took over four hours!

    * The scan found some threats (mostly trojans) that my usual antivirus (AVG) didn't catch. Don't know whether Spybot would have found them, because I ran Ad-Aware first.

    * It also found a lot of cookies I told it to get rid of them, and it did. Unfortunately, I found that they included a bunch of VERY useful cookies that the old Ad-Aware and Spybot never worried about. For instance, I have preferences and even permanent logins at favorite sites, and had to restore them from scratch; they were in the destroyed cookies.

    It's a mixed verdict. Ad-Aware is a horrible mess to install and get your computer back to where you want it. But it seems to serve a useful purpose. Next week, I'll do a scan again, but I'll run Spybot first. If Lavasoft doesn't catch anything Spybot missed, I may just stop using Ad-Aware altogether.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 3.0 stars

    "good product, detects false positive w/ desura client"

    February 17, 2013  |   By sgt.pinback

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.0.4339

    Pros

    AV seemed to work great for the short time it was in use
    anti-spyware portion is legendary

    Cons

    detects false positive w/ desura game client and could not exclude based on folder (file-only exclude, consistently detected temp files in desura game folder, only resolve was to disable / remove)

    Summary

    If you use the Desura game client the AV portion will have to be disabled completely since you cannot exclude a folder and the client creates temp files when upgrading games.
    Excluding file-by-file, all in the game client install, was excruciating to deal with. Excluding the extire folder would have been an excellent option, unfortunately the AV excludes are based on file-by-file basis only :(

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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Results 1-10 of 10

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