Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Download Editors' Rating:
4
Excellent
Average User Rating:
3.9
out of 15921 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    9.0
  • Total Downloads:
    387,859,624
  • Date Added:
    Apr. 29, 2011
  • Price:
    Free; paid upgrade available
  • File Size:
    1.84MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    70,168
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:
    #2 in Anti-Spyware

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 15921 votes

    • 5 star 7555
    • 4 star 4358
    • 3 star 1159
    • 2 star 726
    • 1 star 2123
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 575

1 stars

"Avoid like the plague"

September 10, 2013  |  By maxfrost718

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

ZERO upside to this unless your computers are powerful enough to run NASA.

Cons

Locked up my computer and impossible to uninstall. Crashes while doing so. Supposed to reinstall to uninstall.

Hijacks your Browser and can never be gotten rid of.

Summary

Seriously, to get rid of this Lava Soft safe search browser (which crashes every time I try to use it) I will basically have to get a new computer.

One star is too good. Wish I had come here and read these reviews but according to someone I trust this used to be reputable company....years ago.

Updated on Sep 10, 2013

I am seriously angry and tearing my hair out.

Updated on Sep 10, 2013

I am seriously angry and tearing my hair out.

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4 stars

"good protecting software"

May 24, 2011  |  By birgitcke

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

It helps me out of the trouble....Get away from all threats.....Finally safe, very safe now

Cons

IT IS NICE, TRUST ME

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5 stars

"Great program"

May 22, 2011  |  By abitaman

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

Works well

Cons

nothing really to complain about

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4 stars

"Slow loading"

May 22, 2011  |  By chrisjones49

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

A good scanner.

Cons

Slows down my pc when in use.

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4 stars

"Works as needed"

May 21, 2011  |  By lewfer

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

Easy enough

Cons

Slow on full scan

Summary

Great free tool

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5 stars

"Outstanding ad-ware program"

May 17, 2011  |  By larimor

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

I've used this program for many years, and it has never let me down. Even after running a spy-ware scan, Ad-Aware has found things, so I believe in having both.

Cons

Only one time I updated and found an upgrade ad imbeded in the registry. Ad-aware customer service would not tell me how to disable it so I had to find it myself. New updates have not reproduced the ad.

Summary

I recommend Ad-Aware to everybody I know, and when people ask me for help cleaning up their computer, I always install Ad-Aware as part of the security software.

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1 stars

"Installation Error"

May 15, 2011  |  By crbrown34

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

No Pros for this edition of Ad-Ware for me.

Cons

Service Lavasoft Ad-Ware could not be installed. Verify you have sufficient privaleges to install system services. WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT? I HAVE ALL OF THE PRIVILEGES NEEDED TO INSTALL ANYTHING ON MY COMPUTER. I have used Ad-Ware for years.

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4 stars

"Important tool to protect computer"

May 15, 2011  |  By indigo450

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

interresting features

Cons

Can it be optimized to go faster

Summary

Should be part of basic tools to keep CP healthy

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Was this review helpful? (4) (1)

4 stars

"Quiet, unassuming program that gives great results..."

May 12, 2011  |  By Astonmichaeldevilla

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

(1) Sped up my down loads. (2) Easy 2 understand for an idiot like me? ..lol..(3) No nonsense security. Seeks out danger and removes it quickly...I really love this FREEEEEEEEE!!! program...thankyou very much Cnet..very much appreciate this freebie..

Cons

Only Con I can find with this is it doesn't seem to have one of those parts in most of these programs that tells U whether a site is safe or not b4 U open it..U know what i mean? I'm a dope when explaining it..lol..sorry!

Summary

In the Cons box I didn't explain it properly..When I google someth & I get a list websites, etc? U know most progs have a green tick or red X next to each sites address? Says site is safe or dodgy? I haven't found anything like that on this Ad-Aware program. Maybe it's just me. I really would be grateful for any assistance from U good ppl if I'm missing it thru my own stupidity. Atm I have to use an old McAfee siteAdvisor..If there is a siteAdvisor on the Ad-Aware program then any help in finding it would be gratefully received..Thankyou again for this great little Free!! program..lol..I love a good bargain..it cost me 9MB's..ahahahahaha..Love your site btw CNet..Great easy to understand advice for eejits like myself..I'm not exactly computer literate..hee,hee!

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4 stars

"Very good."

May 10, 2011  |  By ltnsmrt

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Pros

Does what it's intended to do.

Cons

None at the moment.

Summary

It's free!!!... As a free program, you cannot ask for more ;o)

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Results 1–10 of 575

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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 Vista 64-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, Windows, Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista 32-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, Windows 2000 Professional
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 1.84MB
File Name Adaware_Installer.exe
Popularity
Total Downloads 387,859,624
Downloads Last Week 70,168
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

Previous Versions:

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