Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Download Editors' Rating:
4
Excellent
Average User Rating:
3.9
out of 15542 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    9.0
  • Total Downloads:
    386,934,315
  • Date Added:
    May 25, 2011
  • File Size:
    1.67MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    68,414
  • Operating Systems:
    Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7

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

    3.5

    out of 77 votes

    • 5 star 20
    • 4 star 27
    • 3 star 12
    • 2 star 9
    • 1 star 9
  • All Versions

    3.9

    out of 15542 votes

    • 5 star 7313
    • 4 star 4233
    • 3 star 1148
    • 2 star 725
    • 1 star 2123
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 50

  • 4 stars

    "Does the job real well"

    October 20, 2014   |   By Dykler-Marks

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    . Installed on my computer and running for 3 years now
    . No viruses since
    . No other AV has this level of defense against malware
    . So light, you'll forget it's actually there
    . Autoupdates are a great plus

    Cons

    works faster on my flash drive than it does on my regular HDD

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  • 5 stars

    "features are excellent!"

    October 20, 2014   |   By BarettaDonna38

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    effective Antivirus with useful and simple features. easy as pie to understand and barely any configuration is required. run deep scans regularly and rest easy knowing you're protected.

    Cons

    99% of viruses get killed. why not 100 % ?

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  • 5 stars

    "5 years of virus protection"

    October 20, 2014   |   By WalterWhiteBlues

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Free extra features other free AVs do not have. Everything from the self updating to the self protection and detection has proven to me for the last 5 years that nothing beats Ad Aware.

    Cons

    I have not come across any other free software that even compares.

    Summary

    The best free version there is for total computer protection

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  • 5 stars

    "Wouldnt want another antivirus on my computer"

    October 20, 2014   |   By HitterQuitter88

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    High quality virus protection for free. doenst interfere with any applications on your operating system Not intrusive.

    Cons

    not a waste

    Summary

    Happy with what im getting with ad aware and would want everyone to give it a try.

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  • 4 stars

    "The free version works well"

    October 20, 2014   |   By Russel2fel

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    It has a nice looking interface, and many features. Simple control over the protection of my PC. emails, online, everything. And of course it's free.

    Cons

    Takes too long for it to scan the entire hard drive.

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  • 5 stars

    "Very glad I got this."

    October 20, 2014   |   By Semple-penny

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    This is the easiest anti virus software I have ever had to use, it's like a couple of clicks and everything is setup. I get alerts when something is detected and I remove it right away. It even helps me stay away from bad sites.

    Cons

    Could not find anything wrong with it.

    Summary

    It's not intrusive unless it finds a threat.

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  • 5 stars

    "Free & works well."

    October 20, 2014   |   By Anita83mitchell

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    Very easy to install. Has everyting I need. Interface is very simple, that makes using it very easy. I like the idea of real time protection working in the background without slowing me down.

    Cons

    Haven't come across any.

    Summary

    Make sure to uninstall your old antivirus first before installing Ad-aware.

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  • 4 stars

    "Antivirus I Can Trust."

    October 20, 2014   |   By MarioC75

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    My old antivirus was slowing down my PC too much, so I tried this one for free. It's the best antivirus I've ever used. It's simple to use, scans everything, real time protection and my PC works like new. I really like how it warns me when I click on something I shouldn't.

    Cons

    The only thing I don't like is the toolbar.

    Summary

    I think its even better than all the other antivirus programs I've tried.

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  • 5 stars

    "It's free and it definitely works."

    October 20, 2014   |   By Cole4Nathan

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    You can hardly notice it's there, even though it's always on. It uses very little system resources and the scans show constant results. After trying a bunch of different Antiviruses, this one works the best for me.

    Cons

    All Good!!

    Summary

    My PC is safer now that I have Ad-aware.

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  • 4 stars

    "Great anti virus & anti malware software."

    October 20, 2014   |   By Donharvey5

    Version: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus + 11.4.6792.0

    Pros

    The real time protection works perfectly, and most of the time, I cant even tell this is running. I got this I think pretty much since it came out, and still can't find anything wrong with it.

    Cons

    Full system scan take a while.

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  • Results 1-10 of 50

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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.
    • Cancel button has been removed on the "installation in progress" screen.
    General
    Publisher Lavasoft
    Publisher web site http://www.lavasoft.com
    Release Date May 25, 2011
    Date Added May 25, 2011
    Version 9.0
    Category
    Category Security Software
    Subcategory Anti-Spyware
    Operating Systems
    Operating Systems Windows 7, Windows, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows XP
    Additional Requirements None
    Download Information
    File Size 1.67MB
    File Name Adaware_Installer.exe
    Popularity
    Total Downloads 386,934,315
    Downloads Last Week 68,414
    Pricing
    License Model Free
    Limitations Not available
    Price Free

    Previous Versions:

     
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