Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Ad-Aware Free Internet Security

Download Editors' Rating:
4
Excellent
Average User Rating:
3.9
out of 15915 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    9.5
  • Total Downloads:
    387,859,624
  • Date Added:
    Aug. 25, 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 has been well-justified. The latest version adroitly addresses some user concerns, yet performance-based annoyances remain.

Review:

Ad-Aware 9.5 continues the development progress that publisher Lavasoft began in version 8. 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 received 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.

Editors' note: Portions of this review are based on CNET's review of Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free 9.

Installation
Ad-Aware 9.5 Free has a fairly straightforward installation process, simple in procedure. The installer file has been shrunk from around 130 MB in version 9.0 to a 12 MB "stub" installer in the current version. This stub then downloads about 80 MB of data to run the installation, which is still a significant decrease. 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 were 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 9.5 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.

No major changes were made to the feature set from version 9 to 9.5.

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, which checks only mission-critical areas of your computer for infection, took about 4 minutes in version 9, slightly slower than the quick scan under version 8.3. Meanwhile, version 9.5 averaged 5 minutes, 37 seconds over three cold-boot runs. So, despite Lavasoft's claims that the program has gotten faster, it appears that the opposite is true.

Lavasoft has not submitted Ad-Aware to be tested by any third-party efficacy tests at threat detection and removal, so we can't speak directly to how secure it will make you. CNET Labs has tested the suite for how it affects your system, and found that while it had a lighter-than-average impact on system performance, its scans were the slowest we've encountered so far this year.

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) 57.41 19.18 1,323 420.17 125.17 351 17,097.17
Lavasoft Ad-Aware 9.5 Pro Internet Security 54.4 16.9 2,080 405 125 347 16,884
Lavasoft Ad-Aware 9.5 Free Internet Security 59 12.8 2,076 406 123 342 17,132

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

These benchmarks show that Ad-Aware is definitely light on your system for startup and shutdown times, at least when compared to the average-to-date. Its impact on in-use programs, especially during the iTunes decoding test and media multitasking test, were the smallest so far this year. However, Ad-Aware's scans were the slowest we've seen by around 200 seconds compared to the next slowest, and around 700 seconds slower than average.

The in-system marks are strong, no doubt, but most people will be looking at scan speed, and that definitely has to be tightened when coming from an underdog position. 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 9.5 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 73 votes

    • 5 star 25
    • 4 star 25
    • 3 star 2
    • 2 star 7
    • 1 star 14
  • All Versions

    3.9

    out of 15915 votes

    • 5 star 7552
    • 4 star 4355
    • 3 star 1159
    • 2 star 726
    • 1 star 2123
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 73

4 stars

"Very Good Program"

November 13, 2011  |  By ritamval

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

I have used this software for several years and I have been very satisfied with the results.

Cons

The scanning takes some time but most of the programs you buy also take time to scan.

Summary

I like the fact that it seems to pick up spyware and spam pretty fast and easy. This program picks up stuff what others leave behind and it's free!!

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5 stars

"Great anti-spyware, anti-malware product AND it's free!"

November 13, 2011  |  By DraconisMax

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

It absolutely catches everything! I've used this software for years and with every update it gets better and better.

Cons

The scan speed is a little slow, but I'm willing to deal with it because it works well in real time and it's free.

Summary

Quality software at a quality price.

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4 stars

"Does a good job. Easy to use."

November 09, 2011  |  By ambullock77

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

It gets rid of spyware, malware, and viruses very well and is easy to use..

Cons

It is a little slow when it comes to scanning.

Summary

This program is a very good #2 option behind Malwarebytes. It has live real time protection for those that want to use it but it is easy to cut it off. Does a really good job detecting spyware, malware, and even viruses. To me it ranks number 2 behind any other spyware removal tool on the internet. Very easy to use. Also clears out tracking cookies from your browsers.

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4 stars

"works very well. did not slow down pc."

November 07, 2011  |  By scarface6770

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

very good at removing trojan"s and free found things that top antivirus programs did not.

Cons

full scan is very slow. normal scan not to bad. slow loading.

Summary

seems to be a very good program give it a try its free.

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4 stars

"Very good free program."

November 04, 2011  |  By flyer25

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

Ad-Aware finds a lot of spyware and lists them individually. It is not an excessively intrusive program and does not interfere with other programs. It is also easy to configure. It has been my favorite free anti spyware program for some time.

Cons

Slow interface. Even with plenty of ram the interface is relatively slow but more ram helps a lot.

Summary

A program that can really help keep a computer clean and cut down on a lot of spam. Some free programs lump tracking cookies together into a category but Ad-Aware lists them individually.
Seeing each piece of malware that is being removed is a plus.

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1 stars

"Can not install,tried 8 times"

November 02, 2011  |  By phillip104

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

Can not rate as can not install

Cons

Will not install, no way to open after download.

Summary

Love the version I now have, wish I could use the newer version.

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2 stars

"It works, but often issues error message and closes"

November 02, 2011  |  By dgoldkorn

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

Runs in the background unattended

Cons

Not very intuitive nor user friendly

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5 stars

"very reliable software"

October 31, 2011  |  By oldfool5

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

fast, complete

Cons

none that i can find

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1 stars

"Absurdly slow."

October 28, 2011  |  By dolfin2

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

Used in past with fair satisfaction. It was always slow & resource-sucking.

Cons

Have tried twice now on Windows 7 64-bit with big frustration. This last time didn't scan 1/4 of my system in 6 hrs. Shut it down & deleted it.

Summary

That's absurd. I'll stick with Mbam & try Spybot again.

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5 stars

"useful software"

October 19, 2011  |  By leebelator

 |  Version: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.5

Pros

this software is very useful,it can protect your computer all the time,you can have a try,I'm sure you will like this one

Cons

I think I can say nothing

Summary

I would like to recommend this software to everybody

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Results 1–10 of 73

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 9.5
Version 9.5 improves on performance and introduces a completely new malware detection method.
General
Publisher Lavasoft
Publisher web site http://www.lavasoft.com
Release Date August 25, 2011
Date Added August 25, 2011
Version 9.5
Category
Category Security Software
Subcategory Anti-Spyware
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 2000, Windows
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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