Ad-Aware 9.5 upshifts for better performance

Although it's only an incremental release, Lavasoft claims that its new Ad-Aware 9.5 offers scans that are between four and eight times faster. However, we're just not seeing it.

The latest version of popular antispyware and antivirus program Ad-Aware comes with bold performance claims. Released today exclusively on CNET, Ad-Aware 9.5 Free Internet Security and Ad-Aware 9.5 Pro Internet Security have seen heavy construction under the hood, according to Lavasoft, and ought to be four to eight times faster than they were in the last release, version 9.0.5.

Ad-Aware 9.5 hasn't changed its interface, but there have been under-the-hood changes to how it performs. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

In addition, the suites now come with a faster installation process, bolstered by a dramatically smaller download that shrunk from 130 MB to 12 MB. This "stub" installer then grabs only about 80 MB of data online to complete the program, which is still significantly smaller.

While using the program, I noticed that Ad-Aware felt smoother when transitioning between screens, supporting that some parts of the program are faster. However, the program's "quick" scan, called the Smart Scan, which checks only mission-critical areas of your computer for infection, was actually slower on a real-world, daily-use computer than it was when tested in version 9.0. Whereas the scan averaged around four minutes to complete, over three cold-boot runs, version 9.5 notched 5 minutes, 37 seconds over three cold-boot runs.

Updated August 29, 2011, 6:10 p.m. PST: Full CNET benchmarks and updated reviews are available for Ad-Aware 9.5 Free Internet Security and Ad-Aware 9.5 Pro Internet Security. Basically, CNET Labs has confirmed what I experienced in my real-world testing: while the program does well with a low impact on system resources, its scans are incredibly slow.