Ad-Aware Total Security ($50, 30-day free trial), the newest addition to the Lavasoft line of security software, is an all-in-one suite that builds on the longtime anti-spyware favorite Ad-Aware. It adds anti-virus, rootkit detection, a personal firewall, spam protection, parental control software and more. It's essentially the same software as Ad-Aware Free Internet Security or the $30 Ad-Aware Internet Security Pro, with extra capabilities bolted on.
Like the other software in the line, Ad-Aware Total Security includes heuristics detection, and so examines complex system behavior, rather than just looking for known malware signatures. In this way, it can protect against emerging and unknown threats, not just threats that are already known and found via the use of signatures. New in this version is the Genotype heuristics detection system, which Lavasoft claims is superior to its previous heuristics. PCWorld has not yet tested this product's antivirus feature, and thus cannot offer an opinion about this feature's usefulness.
As with all Ad-Aware products, the interface for Ad-Aware Total Security is simple and straightforward. The main screen displays basic information about the state of your security, including when you last performed a virus check and when you last updated the program and anti-virus signatures. There's also a tabbed section for delving deeper into the program, including for e-mail and anti-spam protection as well as enabling parental controls, which are disabled by default.
Note that the first time you run a scan with Ad-Aware Total Security, and the program updates its signatures and similar information, it can take a very long time. It took more than an hour on my system. Subsequent runs took fifteen to thirty minutes.
If you're the kind of person who likes to tinker, you'll be pleased with the many customizations available to you. For example, you can have the virus-scanner pause during times of high system load. Also useful is a CPU load indicator, which displays how much of your system's CPU is being used over time, as well as how much of the CPU Ad-Aware Total Security takes up.
Is it worth paying $50 for Ad-Aware Total Security, when the latest Pro version runs only $30? Ad-Aware Total Security includes a number of features missing in the Pro version, such as an e-mail scanner, anti-spam, data recovery, scanning of instant message, a personal firewall, parental controls, and a file shredder. Those are useful, but not necessarily essential, so it may not be worth the extra $20 to you. But if you're looking for an all-in-one security suite, Ad-Aware Total Security is worth a try.