E-mail scanning and a tiered level of rootkit removal come to Ad-Aware in Monday's update to version 8.2. Ad-Aware Free, Ad-Aware Plus, and Ad-Aware Pro now come with e-mail scanning for Microsoft Outlook users, as well as expand the Ad-Aware Live system to block malicious files from downloading, and introduce a tiered rootkit removal system that increases in efficacy as you upgrade Ad-Aware.
The new features are part of the recent expansive approach that Lavasoft has been pushing in Ad-Aware, looking beyond antispyware as the company tries to keep the program relevant. The tiered rootkit removal is the newest, and is a bit surprising as it forces users to buy the most expensive version to get Ad-Aware's best rootkit removal tech. However, since the rootkit detection hasn't changed, it's assumed you can upgrade after a rootkit has been found on your computer.
Ad-Aware Live was introduced in an earlier version to prevent real-time threats, so the addition of download blocking is a welcome, if belated development. Download scanning and blocking is becoming a more common feature in security programs, as the developers look for more effective ways to prevent malware from surreptitiously landing on your hard drive.
The faster revision cycle is also something that's becoming more common in software, pushed in part by the accelerated developments seen in Google Chrome. The last update to Ad-Aware, in October 2009, introduced a heuristics engine, an advanced mode for viewing more complex settings, and a new system for removing threats that Lavasoft has called "Neutralizer."
Ad-Aware is an effective security program to have, but the free version lacks the antivirus component that other free security suites offer. Antivirus, sourced from Sunbelt's Vipre AV, is available in the paid upgrades.
Correction: This story originally stated that Ad-Aware used Avira's Antivir engine for antivirus detection. Ad-Aware used Avira in a previous version, but has since changed to Sunbelt.