Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369 - 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 Not unlike the major interface change that Avast introduced for its fifth version, the interface's quirkiness has been replaced by usability.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 14,277 votes

    • 5 star: 6422
    • 4 star: 3906
    • 3 star: 1114
    • 2 star: 723
    • 1 star: 2112
  • Current version:

    4.0 stars

    out of 13 votes

    • 5 star: 8
    • 4 star: 1
    • 3 star: 1
    • 2 star: 2
    • 1 star: 1
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 13

  • 5.0 stars

    "Awesome detection rate"

    March 20, 2013  |   By Ixorax

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    I don't know if the pay version it is good overall but the free one is the best for me.

    Cons

    There are No Cons!

    Summary

    An excellent computer application with a very good detection rate.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Program more than OK"

    March 20, 2013  |   By Thermodesign

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    If you want free use this one or avast or avira. If you want the best, you have to pay for the best. You'll choose which one it is the amazing one for your business!

    Cons

    None, none

    Summary

    I have been using the free Ad-Aware for a long time now. I really recommend it to all of my friends , and I install it everywhere I can. It has kept everyone who uses it under my advice, safe and happy!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Nice Av & seems to work fine."

    March 20, 2013  |   By AlohaHawai

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    We must not forget one thing: this is a free program. You can not expect a free program to do everything for you.But if you want a completely free protection, for sure you must get additional protection!!!!

    Cons

    Low download speed at updates, but could be my Internet connection also.

    Summary

    Free and easy to use, no matter what computer you have .Easy and simple update blocks undesired contents, and doesn't slow down the PC. Doesn't take forever to complete a full scan and it's free.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "beats some of the pay junk"

    March 15, 2013  |   By poetfreak

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    pretty good prevention.

    Cons

    the pop-ups annoy me a lot.

    no boot scan option.

    Summary

    Personally, I would damn near risk a virus then have an antivirus with the dang popup (okay ... technically slideup) ads.

    The detection rate is also lower then Avast, which doesn't distract me from my task at hand.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "It helps protect my PC!"

    March 12, 2013  |   By Etoile55

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    Everything about it is great, i highly recommend it to any one looking for a great free antivirus. Its easy to use and gets the job done well enough!

    Cons

    Not actually fully free, "full version" is not free!

    Summary

    A very good anti-virus it doesn't disrupt the gaming and it doesn't slow down my computer at all like some other antiV!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Phony "free" software 30 day trial expired in 6 days"

    March 10, 2013  |   By gigglyone

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    Works seemingly well, except for expiring after 6 days instead of 30.

    Cons

    Not sure what else might not be working correctly. Phony "Free" claim - pretty sucky for what used to be great software. Expired after 6 days, not 30. Can't see quarantined files apparently, even if they are "cleaned". Don't click the "Restore" unless you're absolutely sure, because it will re-install the malware and you can't undo your action like most other software can.

    Summary

    I once bought the pro version, as well as the firewall. The firewall slowed my computer down to a crawl, but the pro version seemed to work well.
    Don't think I can trust a software company that lies and says it's giving you free software when it's not. I usually try free software for a while, then purchase... But, not this time!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Good Antivirus & anti spy!"

    March 9, 2013  |   By SerbanC

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    What major antiviruses miss, the Ad-Aware does the work . It provides you many information about what you are just picking up via internet and ask you what do you want to do with the infections or the spyware.

    Cons

    Relatively none!

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  • 2.0 stars

    "fair but there are many better ones"

    March 8, 2013  |   By banjodan

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    it works ok I guess.

    Cons

    if you aren't extremely careful it will install new toolbars, change default search engine, etc. Very difficult to get rid of Ad-Aware.

    Summary

    If there were no other choices this would do. Try Avast, Microsoft Security Essentials, Malware Bytes.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Now bundled with Blekko malware and browser hijacker"

    March 5, 2013  |   By tomsank123

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    Somewhere underneath all that is the original, killer, Lavasoft product

    Cons

    hijacks browser
    switches default search engines
    nearly impossible to get rid of

    Summary

    I have been using and recommending adaware for ages, but have not had it installed on my systems for a couple of years, because the builds were getting very resource-consuming and they were trying to be everything to everyone, as opposed to the focuse mission of targeting adware and spyware. I recently installed a new build of the most recent version of Adaware Free, and immediately began having problems. My browser homepage was hijacked, my default search engine was changed, and I started having suspicious processes running in Task manager. When I looked it up, I saw that many people are having the same issue. Was finally able to clean it out of my system, but I will NEVER recommend Lavasoft products again.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Completely free for 30 days...After?"

    March 3, 2013  |   By rowerdigi

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 10.5.1.4369

    Pros

    Light on system resources, easy to navigate, user interface good, good detection of malicious programs, fast and it works.

    Cons

    The only problem that I would like to see go away, is to pay after 30 days for the pro-version. I'm not a pro then...

    Summary

    Minimal memory usage, background operation doesn't interrupt unless a threat is detected.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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Results 1-10 of 13

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