Ad-Aware Free is antivirus and antispyware program from Lavasoft that has been available since 1999. It can be used to detect and remove unwanted programs including malware, spyware and Trojans from users’ computer. This current 10.2 version has been completely redesigned and was released in mid-July 2012.
The initial download for this program is a small installer that downloads a much larger application. Previous downloads of Ad-Aware had users manually downloading a large installer of over 100 MB. During the installation you are prompted to install additional software including the Ad-Aware Safe-Browsing module and products from Blekko. However, users don’t have to add any of these programs in order for Ad-Aware to work. Installation takes a long time to complete and at the end of it, the program starts scanning your computer immediately without prompting. You can cancel this scan, but you are told that you must restart your computer for the installation to complete.
Ad-Aware has a user-friendly interface that has three large icons at the top: Home, Info and Options. Clicking the Home or Options icons opens new pages in the Ad-Aware interface. Conversely, clicking Info opens up a drop-down menu. The Options page allows the user to set program behavior while the Home screen allows users to see which protections are currently running. In the Basic Protection panel, Antivirus & Antispyware, Real-Time Protection are on by default. Under Advanced Protection, only Safe Browsing is turned on while five other definitions including E-mail protection, Advanced Firewall and Shop & Bank Safely Online are only available for Ad-Aware Pro users and are turned off by default.
Ad-Aware allows users to scan their computers for malicious software such as bots, rootkits, adware, browser hijackers, viruses and trojans. The program also allows users several ways in which to interact with scan results. You can view scan reports or a list of all the items the program has quarantined. It’s also possible to create an ignore list so that items are not unnecessarily flagged during scans.
Users can also choose the type of scan that they want Ad-Aware to run. You can run a custom scan if you wish and Ad-Aware uses a system of checked boxes to allow users to chose which scans they want included. You can also toggle individual performance levels for each type of scan. This means that whether your virus scan is Quick, Full or Custom, your computer can devote more resources (which is faster) or fewer resources (which is slower). However, even at default levels, the virus scan did have a notable effect on system resources.
If you are looking for a good and reliable antivirus program Ad-Aware may be worth your attention. Ad-Aware has proved over the years to be quite a workhorse, discovering harmful objects – even those ignored by other free antivirus programs.
- + Free
- + Flexible
- - Somewhat resource hungry
- - Requires restart
- - Bloatware
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