Ad-Aware Pro Security 10 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Ad-Aware Pro Security

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 Not unlike the major interface change that Avast introduced for its fifth version, the interface's quirkiness has been replaced by usability.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:

    3.3 stars

    out of 64 votes

    • 5 star: 29
    • 4 star: 8
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 4
    • 1 star: 21
  • Current version:

    4.6 stars

    out of 14 votes

    • 5 star: 11
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 0
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 1
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 14

  • 5.0 stars

    "I had the free but now good investment!"

    July 13, 2012  |   By saveown

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    Doesn't slow your computer down like most other antivirus programs and the online browsing seems to be more secure now. Simple installation nothing hard. I'm not sorry for the money I paid, until now this software it does what it supposed to do.

    Cons

    Need to be more faster in-depth scanning.

    Summary

    A product with a great reputation!

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (1) (0)

  • 5.0 stars

    "Finished the trial, got the pro!"

    July 12, 2012  |   By georgefor139

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    Ad-Aware, the Pro Edition is almost too good to be true. The customized scan and active protection let you tailor your protection level to your liking. It helps you clean up the clutter of annoying things you don't know you have, runs very smoothly,an it can find the real bad stuff in your machine. Efficient and not heavy at all on my system, superior quality and good customer service.

    Cons

    Still looking!

    Summary

    Be sure you are protected because Ad-Aware runs very smooth in backround!

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Tech Support seems to have a hidden agenda."

    July 5, 2012  |   By bwelbon

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    This company has been around long enough to have learned how to protect computers.

    Cons

    Tech support seems to be trying to make extra money for the company. This is a repeat of my review in the "Free" version.

    Summary

    I have few recommendations for my customers and this is definately NOT one of them.

    I have been working with computers for over 35 years, and today I was supporting one of my customers who was complaining of numerous BSODs on their computer. One of the things that I found is that they had both Ad-Aware Pro and Norton 360 installed in the computer. I removed both and installed Microsoft Security Essentials, after I scanned for infections and applied all Microsoft Security updates. After verifying that there were no infections and all the updates were properly installed, I let the computer run for over a day and a half. It ran without incident. Because of this, I returned the computer to the customer and re-installed the Ad-Aware since they had purchased it. Of course, I uninstalled MSE.

    I couldn't quickly find where I could enter their activation code, and since she couldn't remember her login to the Ad-Aware site, we attempted to have it emailed "immediately". Of course, it didn't arrive in anything close to a timely fashion, so we called the toll free number listed on her printed sales confirmation. This number was not available from either my cell phone or her land line, both located on the west coast of Florida. I then navigated to the Ad-Aware Pro site and found a different number to call for "Free Install & Setup Assistance". I told the agent, obviously foreign, that we had re-installed the application and we only needed to activate the software. The technician said that he would need to remotely take control of the machine and after establishing a connection, he proceeded to open the event viewer. He stated that he could not activate the software until every entry that was a warning or an error was corrected as it would harm the computer if the product was activated. He directed me to take it to Geek Squad or somewhere else to have it repaired and that only a "Microsoft Certified System Engineer" could fix it. He also said that HE could fix all of the problems over this connection for a fee of $70.00, and that it would run as if it were new. I told him (falsely) that I was Certified and that is why I was there (I was a Windows 3.1 MCP). He completely ignored that and insisted that either we would have to have it fixed at the afforementioned places which would take 2 - 3 days, or he could do it today. I told him that we would just contact Customer Service and get her money back and uninstall the product. I then hung up on him.


    Upon reboot, we were presented with the register "nag" screen and I chose the "Free" version. It asked for our license key, and I entered the one on her confirmation. It surprised me when it said that her Ad-Aware PRO was now activated.


    This experience has taught me of how NOT to conduct business, and I will NEVER recommend this software to anyone!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "It works awesome."

    July 4, 2012  |   By IanisTrevi

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    Doesn't seem to be a resource hog, an easy to use program with very smooth functions, scans well, and very inexpensive! (pro version)

    Cons

    Relatively none.

    Summary

    Very cool and graphically well enough designed environment.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Absolutely what I needed"

    June 6, 2012  |   By Majorjj

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    An excellent software and I do not have problem with it at all.Keeps my computer clean and safe & It works like its supposed to work.

    Cons

    No way my friends!

    Summary

    My final conclusion: ad-aware it's a good program. Very effective at blocking viruses.

    Reply to this review

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Amazing I upgraded to Pro 1 week after getting the free"

    April 19, 2012  |   By TonyCecil

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    Flawless program! I love the shop and bank safely feature cause it blocks all advertising and bad sites. I was prompted with a safety warning twice so far that prevented me from going into danger zones. I have not experienced any attacks or other problems since Ad-Aware.

    Cons

    Still looking for cons

    Summary

    Ad-Aware has won my vote and infinite support. Does everything its supposed to in the background and efficiently. Now if only Adobe took a lesson from Ad-Aware and came out with stable software that doesn't crash I would be one happy person! Obviously that's too much to ask for though :p

    Reply to this review

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Never thought i would find one i actually would buy"

    April 16, 2012  |   By Max_Kax

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    tried the free version and had the pro trial version and liked them all. so i decided (despite my sticking to free software all these years ) to pay for the pro version and upgrade. i still think this was the right decision.

    Cons

    I would only ask that they change the exclamation mark in the notification center to a checkmark when status is safe.

    Summary

    you have gained a loyal user out of me. keep providing excellent support and i will keep renewing.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "just upgraded. Had to let everyone know how good it is"

    April 13, 2012  |   By BradleyShep

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    tremendous improvements over my last antivirus that I used. upgraded ad-aware to Pro and havent looked back since.

    Cons

    have yet to find any

    Reply to this review

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Truly great"

    April 13, 2012  |   By HenryGarner

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    so easy it basically runs itself. customize your settings as you choose and let it do the rest while you rest easy. best expense you can ask for in terms of software.

    Cons

    hardly any

    Summary

    i was pleasently surprised at how much bad stuff it found that my other antivirus didn't. that was close!

    Reply to this review

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Easy to use and keeps me protected"

    April 13, 2012  |   By NicholasBuck

    Version: Ad-Aware Pro Security 10

    Pros

    Just upgraded to the Pro version, best dollars I have spent in a long time. hasn't slowed down my pc and I feel protected while i use my computer. that alone is worth the money.

    Cons

    some very minor bugs

    Summary

    As I said, I'm very happy

    Reply to this review

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Results 1-10 of 14

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