Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE Personal 1.06
At a Glance
Lavasoft's free Ad-Aware Personal 1.06 does a good job of protecting you against adware and spyware that have already made the trip to your PC, but it lacks the preventative protection features that are available only in Lavasoft's paid products.
In performance tests conducted by AV-Test.org, Ad-Aware ranked fourth among the five products tested for our "Spyware Specialists" roundup despite solid detection and disinfection scores. This free app detected 85 percent of active adware and spyware samples thrown at it. It also disinfected 45 percent of adware and 60 percent of spyware samples. Ad-Aware did the best job of detecting inactive adware and spyware samples--a testament to Lavasoft's malware signature database.
However, Ad-Aware Personal lacks both rootkit protection and, more important, the Ad-Watch real-time protection that is available in Lavasoft's $27 Ad-Aware SE Plus. (Real-time protection helps prevent threats from landing on your system in the first place.)
Several other options available only in Ad-Aware SE Plus are marked with grayed Xs in the free version's otherwise nicely designed interface. These features include a startup scan, scheduling of scans, and automatic software updates. Without having tested SE Plus, we can't judge how effective these enhancements are.
Ad-Aware SE Personal, which lacks even e-mail tech support, is by definition a crippled program since Lavasoft wants you to upgrade to the paid product. As a result, we recommend it as good second layer of defense against adware and spyware--but your primary application should have real-time protection.