Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Download Editors' Rating:
4
Excellent
Average User Rating:
3.9
out of 15553 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    9.0
  • Total Downloads:
    387,142,495
  • Date Added:
    April 29, 2011
  • File Size:
    1.67MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    201,421
  • Operating Systems:
    Windows 2000 Professional/Vista 64-bit/7 32-bit/Vista 32-bit/7 64-bit/XP 32-bit

Editors' Review

+

The bottom line: One of the first applications built to find and remove malware and spyware, Ad-Aware's reputation is well-justified. The latest version continues the publisher's tradition of adroitly addressing user concerns, yet some annoyances remain.

Review:

Ad-Aware 9 continues the development progress that publisher Lavasoft began in the previous version. No longer content with offering only malware protection, Ad-Aware now includes antivirus protections licensed from Sunbelt, the makers of Vipre, as well as interesting in-house improvements.

Lavasoft first started changing Ad-Aware's protection engine more than a year ago in version 8.1, when it introduced Genotype. This heuristics-based technology identified identical snippets of code across multiple threat mutations. In version 9, Genotype receives support from what Lavasoft calls "Dedicated Detection." This tech looks inside files, analyzes the code, and creates a loose pattern for finding families of related malware. The company touts that a single dedicated detection signature can detect hundreds of thousands of threats. More importantly, Lavasoft expects that dedicated detection will lower false positive rates by creating more points of comparison.

The second new engine, MagmaShield, is proactive. It emulates processor instructions, comparing approved processor-level operations against those that are undefined in the application layer. This means that it aggressively looks at how a file interacts with the CPU and uses that to call out threats faster.

Installation
Ad-Aware 9 Free has a fairly straightforward installation process, simple in procedure. The installer file is enormous, at 124 MB, so users who are on slower connections ought to prepare for a lengthy download wait. Ad-Aware has no toolbars and won't attempt to commandeer your default browser's search engine, an irritation that some free competitors still believe in. Installing does require a reboot, which is expected for security software. The install itself was a bit slow, taking more than five minutes including the reboot, yet it's noticeably faster than it used to be.

Interface
Ad-Aware's interface hasn't changed much since version 8, which means that it's still in dire need of a refresh. The main window offers three icons that you can click on to update your virus definition files and engines, scan your system, or check your status on Ad-Watch Live, Ad-Aware's real-time protection engine. Below the main icons there's a button for updating your scan schedule and accessing support, while a toggle button to jump between simple mode and advanced mode sits in the bottom left corner of the interface. The interface's simple mode merely makes some otherwise visible options disappear, hidden behind an extra click. All but the newest of users ought to feel comfortable using Ad-Aware's "advanced" mode.

As you can tell, it's sort of a mess, and we're not done yet. At the top right of the interface are a series of buttons that replicate the three features in the main window, as well as a fourth for accessing "extras". A Settings button sits below those four.

Tapping the Scan button will run a full scan, and there's no way to change this behavior to Smart scan or Profile scan, the Ad-Aware term for a custom scan. Within the Scan window there are tabs near the top for jumping into the scheduler, the quarantine, and the ignore list.

The Ad-Watch Live window will show you which kinds of real-time protection you have running. Process protcetion defaults to on, while File, Network, and Registry protection are available only in the Ad-Aware paid upgrade. Some competitors, such as Avast, offer all of these in their free version.

Features
As mentioned above, the "Dedicated Detection" and MagmaShield engines are the biggest feature improvements in Ad-Aware 9 Free, although there's no direct interaction between them and the user. Lavasoft has tweaked the scheduler behavior a bit in version 9. The feature arrived in the free version only recently in version 8.3. Ad-Aware Free users can only schedule two scans; upgrading to Ad-Aware Pro removes the handicap. Both Free and Pro users can schedule Smart scans, Full scans, custom scans, and can set them to run daily, weekly, monthly, or at Windows startup.

In addition to virus and malware scans, Ad-Aware 9 Free offers a browser track sweeper. Accessible from the Extras button, it can wipe your cache, cookies, history, last typed URLs, and tabs from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. The Toolbox, a second tab under Extras, contains options such as additional process-protecting features that are restricted to the paid upgrade.

Ad-Aware has some limitations that make it hard to compare favorably to its free competitors. You can't view other parts of the program while running a scan, and the scan itself lacks a progress meter or a pause button. Ad-Aware Free cannot scan networked drives.

The restrictions placed on the real-time shields also stands competitors like Panda Cloud Antivirus, Avast, AVG, and Avira on a more solid security foundation. Ad-Aware is also missing other key features, such as Web protection and a silent/gaming mode. Advanced rootkit removal is only available in the paid upgrade as well, leaving Ad-Aware 9 Free with a similar problem to the previous versions: the basic feature set is adequate yet lacking.

Performance
Ad-Aware 9 Free performed scans on a real-world computer quite slowly, taking close to 2 hours for its first Full scan. The quick, "Smart" scan took about 4 minutes, slightly slower than the quick scan under version 8.3.

Full CNET Labs' benchmarks benchmarks will be added to this review as they become available, as will independent third-party efficacy test results. For now, though, while Ad-Aware's new detection and prevention engines sound effective, they are largely untested in the real-world.

Conclusion

Longtime fans will notice the changes to Ad-Aware, and the program continues to grow in the right direction after several missteps in recent years. While the free version continues to make improvements and seems to be unwilling to rest on its malware-removing laurels, Ad-Aware 9 Free remains undeniably hamstrung.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    3.1

    out of 575 votes

    • 5 star 115
    • 4 star 172
    • 3 star 71
    • 2 star 73
    • 1 star 144
  • All Versions

    3.9

    out of 15553 votes

    • 5 star 7319
    • 4 star 4238
    • 3 star 1148
    • 2 star 725
    • 1 star 2123
  • My rating

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Results 1-10 of 61

  • 4 stars

    "Finds any issues quickly!"

    October 21, 2014   |   By BOjaBoja2

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Founnd malware that AVG, AVAST and Macafee did not after months of scans with other software, I decided to give up and just download Ad Aware after a friend told me it helped him get rid of trojans that were slowing down his machine and remained undetected with Windows Defender. Ad Aware caught 7 suspicious files that have been on my computer this whole time without me knowin !! God knows that information they were after. Removal was quick and easy and I run a deep scan at least once every 2 days now to make sure i'm always on point!

    Cons

    The con is that I didn't know Ad Aware even existed before.

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  • 5 stars

    "Free and low on resources"

    October 21, 2014   |   By Leo2Jackson90

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Blocks all malicious websites or files an alerts you to make you aware of its findings. Works perfectly on all my browsers and both my laptops with great effeciency.

    Cons

    Do I really need both my windows firewall and the ad aware firewall ?

    Summary

    Active protection gives the best security to your computer by making sure Ad Aware is never caught off guard by any malicious software.

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  • 5 stars

    "Best in class FREE anti virus product"

    October 21, 2014   |   By Frankenscences1

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    - Automatic Updates
    - Navigation is easy
    - Easy to learn and adapt
    - No better scanning system
    - Game Mode is a great feature

    Cons

    Nope, only pros!

    Summary

    Does great work at catching viruses and it's free!

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  • 4 stars

    "Good antivirus for general use."

    October 21, 2014   |   By med603

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    The first program I installed after I finished building my PC. The interface is clean, protection is always on and checks emails and websites you're on. As a free program its one of the best.

    Cons

    Full scans can take a while.

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  • 5 stars

    "Stick with the best."

    October 21, 2014   |   By J-lithtle

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    I tried many different programs and I keep coming back to ad-aware. The combination of simplicity, detection rate, and top notch features is just better than the rest. I recommend it to everyone.

    Cons

    I'm still waiting for it to go wrong.

    Summary

    Catches all in the wild viruses.

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  • 5 stars

    "Hard to find anything better."

    October 21, 2014   |   By PoovT3everet

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    free
    fast
    Good detection rate
    Low system usage.
    Free tech support.
    Game mode

    Cons

    There's nothig bad to say.

    Summary

    I recommend this to anyone who doesn't want to pay for an antivirus.

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  • 5 stars

    "The best antivirus i've used."

    October 21, 2014   |   By Omegaf88

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    For me this program is outstanding. I wasn't sure what to do but after I called customer service, they got me up and running. I scanned and deleted all the viruses and now I don't have to worry about a thing.

    Cons

    Download time was a little long.

    Summary

    I like this program. It's the best antivirus I've tried.

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  • 4 stars

    "Lightweight & live detection."

    October 21, 2014   |   By Talker-tim

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Simple navigation, Live protection, scans emails, downloads, websites and detection rate is superior to most. It's an ideal antivirus if your always online, like me.

    Cons

    I have no cons to mention.

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  • 5 stars

    "Ad-aware kicks ass."

    October 21, 2014   |   By Collon-crow

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Very good for the average user like me. Simple controls are easy to understand and a pleasure to use. It doesn't use up a lot of memory, my PC has been clean since installing this and it works good.

    Cons

    No problems at all.

    Summary

    Download and try this program. It's fantastic.

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  • 4 stars

    "Covers all your bases"

    October 21, 2014   |   By RichardRitches

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Uses the least amount of resources out of all antiviruses and has been rated as the best free antivirus by independant labs. Beautiful and attractive interface with a simple to use naviagtion and menu

    Cons

    no reason for me to think there are any negatives.

    Summary

    I can always rely on Ad Aware regardless of the threat it faces.

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  • Results 1-10 of 61

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    Full Specifications

    +
    What's new in version 9.0
    • Improved detection. Two new proactive detection technologies added.
    • Faster, more efficient updates.
    • Installer file downsized to 9MB.
    General
    Publisher Lavasoft
    Publisher web site http://www.lavasoft.com
    Release Date April 29, 2011
    Date Added April 29, 2011
    Version 9.0
    Category
    Category Security Software
    Subcategory Anti-Spyware
    Operating Systems
    Operating Systems Windows XP 32-bit, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows, Windows 7 32-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit
    Additional Requirements None
    Download Information
    File Size 1.67MB
    File Name Adaware_Installer.exe
    Popularity
    Total Downloads 387,142,495
    Downloads Last Week 201,421
    Pricing
    License Model Free
    Limitations Not available
    Price Free

    Previous Versions:

     
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