Recent comparative reviews online and at PC Magazine award top spots to two products nearly unanimously.One is the commercial software product from Webroot known as Spy Sweeper, the other is a freeware (donation-ware, actually) product from Patrick M.Kolla called Spybot-Search & Destroy, who developed the package working with a host of volunteers and colleagues.
Spy Sweeper 3.0 is the version I tested for this book.
It gets consistently high ratings for its ability to detect and remove more spyware and adware than any other product (and indeed, it found at least 40 items on every computer I tested, even though I'd been using Ad-Aware Plus on all of my systems for a year or more).
Its scanning functions are reasonably fast (it took less than 15 minutes to scan 80,000-plus files on my biggest hard drives), accurate, and it did a great job of removing everything it found on my systems.
The blocking functions are good, and will warn you as changes are attempted to default browser settings, as tracking cookies are placed on your system (requires changing a default program setting), and as sites attempt to download spyware onto your system or into your PC's memory.
It, too, gets consistently high ratings for its ability to detect and remove lots of spyware and adware (and it, too, found numerous items on every computer I tested despite the prior use of Ad-Aware Plus on those computers).
Its scanning functions are a bit slower than those for Spy Sweeper but still entirely acceptable, and its blocking functions are likewise more than adequate for the job.
Unlike Spy Sweeper, Spybot-Search & Destroy does not include an auto-update function to automatically download new definitions (and software, if available) each time the program is run or scheduled to run.
It doesn't catch all spyware in real time, but its scanner usually catches what its blocker cannot.
As a result of researching this book, Spy Sweeper has become my antispyware/anti-adware product of choice.
At .95 for a yearly update subscription, it's a reasonable price for a great piece of software (
Spybot-Search & Destroy 1.3 is the version I tested for this book.