Best Free Spyware And Adware Remover

 
Other Language?
  Read this article in Spanish
In a Hurry?
  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
Introduction
The Internet is a dangerous place to be in the 21st century. Unscrupulous people using malicious software are finding ingenious ways to access your information or lead you into spending money.  Spyware harvests information from your computer with keylogging and data capture techniques, while adware tracks your browsing habits and tempts you with popup ads related to websites you have visited.  Another less known troublemaker is scumware.  This software attacks websites and changes their advertising, for example changing family friendly links to adult rated links.
 
With every new generation of malware (adware, spyware, scumware, virus, rootkits, trojans), there will be a new generation of software to combat it.  Gizmo's offers many useful articles and reviews to help today's computer user obtain the necessary tools to combat the virtual foe.  This category will look at adware and spyware removers.  
 
The following products have been reviewed for this category;
Spybot-Preventor, Remover
SAS (SuperAntiSpyware) - Remover
Malwarebytes - Remover
Spywareblaster - Preventor
 
Discovery: All of these programs will perform manual scans, but some will not provide real-time scanning protection unless you upgrade to the paid version.  Some are removers, some are preventors.  It was difficult to find a free program that combined all the components.  The winner in this category is Spybot for it's removal and prevention ability in a free program.  SAS found more to remove, however it doesn't offer real-time protection.  
Discussion

Spybot is a malware remover.  Designed for basic use yet offers complex menus and information for advanced users.  After installation the program will offer to create a Whitelist.  This process indexes files for faster scans and isn't recommended unless the host computer is known to be clearn.  For best results cancel this option, update the software, run a full scan then create a Whitelist if all is clean.   

After updating I ran a quick scan which did not find my test file.  The scan menu offers third party cookie blocking.  The immunization feature interacts with the web browser to warn users of potentially harmful websites.  I tried to install sweetpacks toolbar and spybot put up a warning.  Spybot's full scan will also check for rootkit malware .  Spybot detected the EICAR bogus website the first time, however it didn't detect the bogus malware/virus file downloads.  Spybot also flagged a warning when I clicked on a 7-zip advertisement on C/NET.  Spybot works very well to warn of potential problems with links or websites.  

SuperAntiSpyware aka SAS detects and removes malware. Installation is simple however the install offers a free trial of pro version which I declined. After the program installs the home menu page opens. I ran the quick scan which impressively found 65 tracking cookies and 2 malware files. Other menus provide custom scans, the ability to set trusted items, and exclude folders. There are more options to set specific folders for scanning, doing quick scans and complete scans. The menu screen has a prefences button, but also has check boxes for features only available on the pro version. These boxes are somewhat annoying as they look meaningful but are essentially promo buttons to upgrade. The free version does not provide real time protection. SAS detected the footprint of two EICAR temp files from a previous visit to the EICAR website.

Malwarebytes is a malware detection and removal software. When the program first installs it will ask you if you want to update to the free pro trial, update definitions and launch the program. I selected to update the definitions and launch the program. The program launched with a configuration menu providing the options to peform a quick scan or full scan. I performed the quick scan which surprisingly detected 7 malware files the previous programs failed to recognize. Unfortunately the free version doesn't offer real time protection. Updating definitions is a good feature, and quarantined files can be manually deleted. A history of the logs is kept in an easily accessable history. There are several options for configuring how the program scans but scheduling isn't one of them. Rootkit scanning requires a separate file download.

Note: Malware Bytes uses the CNET website however it does not contain unwanted third party offers.

Honorable Mention: Spywareblaster is a prevention not a removal program but I felt worth mentioning here for it's unique features.

What, no scan feature? That's right because this program doesn't need one. Spywareblaster is all about prevent and protect. Heck this program doesn't even have to run in the back ground. It tweaks some browser security settings, adds some restricted sites and goes to sleep. Wake it up once a week to update the database, update the profiles and put it back to bed, that simple. What kind of program is this? One of the least intrusive yet most powerful malware blockers available. Spywareblaster has the smallest file size of the reviewed programs. The home screen opens letting you know protections are disabled. Run the update, enable the protections and you're done. Use system snapshot to create a restore point in case things go wrong. Spywareblaster is the only program reviewed to recommend this step. The tools option offers customer configurations and flash player blocking. Manually install updates and Spywareblaster will prompt you to reset the protections. The unique feature of this program is its focus to prevent and protect from the installation of adware, spyware and scumware using the web browser rather than perform cleanup or drain system resources by running in the back ground. Like virus definitions, Spywareblaster updates a list of troublesome maleware daily, this is why it's important to run the updates frequently for this program, recommendation is at least weekly. The paid version allows automatic updating.

Quick Selection Guide

SpyBot
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
real-time protection, protects one or more user profiles
scan didn't detect malware coded file, does not uninstall cleanly
http://www.safer-networking.org/
2.19.1
36 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8

2.0 Supports IE, Chrome, Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera. Languages: English, German, Italian, Russian. Spybot Search & Destroy 1.6.2 available for older PCs.
v2.1.21 SR2 released 30 July, 2013
View the malware engine updates here

SUPERAntiSpyware
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple functional menus, good cookie tracker, supports all browsers
Free version doesn't offer real time protection, only scans.
http://www.superantispyware.com/
5.6.1018
24.3 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Feature limited freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Win 2000 - Win 8

Supports all web browsers. Lanuages; Danish, French, German, Italian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish.
Supported formats: 32 and 64 bit

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
detected files other programs missed, light and simple
no real-time protection, no scheduling, rootkit scanning requires additional download
http://www.malwarebytes.org/
1.75.0.1300
9.8 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8 /Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Later

Languages Available: English, Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Spywareblaster
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
customizable block lists, doesn't use system resources by running in the back ground, does not affect browser performance or conflict with other software.
not a removal tool, must update protections after updating lists
5.0
4 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8.

Supports Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, Seamonkey, Pale Moon, K-Meleon; and browsers that use the IE engine, including: AOL web, browser, Avant Browser, Slim Browser, Maxthon (formerly MyIE2), Crazy Browser, GreenBrowser

Editor

This software category is maintained by volunteer editor joeguru. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.

The comments section below is so lengthy that it has become difficult for our visitors to read. Future posts will now be edited for length and repetition, and personal attacks deleted. You are all welcome to join our Security Forum which is much better-suited for intensive debate.

 

Share this
3.98419
Average: 4 (253 votes)
Your rating: None

Comments

by Anonymous on 19. April 2008 - 1:42  (134)

Your antispyware seems a bit outdated.

How about Threatfire and the latest MUCH IMPROVED version of Spybot (1.52). I found spyware terminator slowed my system down much too much. I don't recommend it.

Windows defender is a joke. Its engine is VERY weak IMO. AVG antispyware is MUCH better especially at finding trojans.

My current layering is threatfire 3.0, Antivir, and spybot 1.52 (runs on a schedule dontcha know). I run AVG antispyware and Hijack this on demand.

Rock solid protection as of now.

by Lusher on 19. April 2008 - 11:11  (148)

Personally I would put TF under another category (as it is done now).

I do think that it makes very little sense to have a seperate

Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover

 

and

Best Free Trojan Scanner/Trojan Remover

 

 

It seems the market now divides into

1) "Antiviruses" - which are usually now broad specturm antimalware

and

2) Specialist anti-malware - which claim to serve as companion two level guards to antivirus.

Within this category, we have antispyware and antitrojan but the line between anti-trojan and anti-spyware is currently none-existent (if ever did exist). Ewido for example throughout its history as changed names from anti-trojan to antisptware despite being the same product.

I would even be tempted to say combine all these categories plus "best antivirus software", into antimalware scanners, but i think having a seperate antivirus category is still defensible

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Lusher on 19. April 2008 - 11:15  (150)

Since this is a "remover" category, one wonders why the excellent superantispyware is not included? It is after all listed by Eric Howes as one of the few trustworthy antispyware.

Me thinks though perhaps one should have seperate categories for best X (on demand), best X (resident protection) where X is antivirus and anti-trojan/spyware.

 

by Anonymous on 21. April 2008 - 19:21  (209)

Point taken about TF. It "IS" listed under HIPS. My Bad.

by Anonymous on 28. April 2008 - 15:57  (289)

Spybot search and destroy I have stumbled upon ' what maybe a trojan on spybot .In the upper left hand corner there is a small set of of binoculars , if you click this a game comes up If you play the game to the end a picture of a man in a circle comes up .then it says end of game Later on I started to use Threat Fire It started to malfunction . I removed Spybot as it was the last program I downloaded Threat Fire started to function O K Later on I downloaded Spybot from a different vendor the same game was there I immediately removed Spybot I have tried all types of programs ( anti spyware Anti trojan anti virus ect., ) none off them have been able to confirm my suspicion that spybot has a trojan on it As I think spybot is a very well put to gether program Ineed some help to either prove that this game is a trojan or is meant to be a part of spybot . If it is a trojan how do I remove it from my computor .

by Anonymous on 3. May 2008 - 5:05  (330)

I thought you recommended avg antispyware before
how come it has disappeared?

by Anonymous on 14. May 2008 - 1:21  (466)

I find it curious that you have not included Superantispyware. On a friends severely infected computer, Superantispyware was the only program that removed all the truly nasty programs, and outperformed A-squared, AVG antispyware, Spybot search and destroy, Microscopic Defender, and Adaware. Superantispyware did leave some traces that the other programs found, but traces are generally harmless. Superantispyware was the only program that truly resolved the infections!

Another great program for cleaning infected systems (when used in conjunction with other on demand scanners) is Rogue Remover. Its specialty is removing phony anti-spyware applications.

by Anonymous on 15. May 2008 - 13:53  (520)

As mentioned, the lack of listing of Super antispyware clearly shows this is an outdated list, particularly since Super has being around for a while already and is not even really a new comer.. Another rising star is MBAM anti-malware. The exclusion of this one is more excusable since it is quite new but still any one who even follows such matters in the slighest will know of the reputation and quality of MBAM.....

by Anonymous on 15. May 2008 - 22:03  (538)

Ad-Aware is dismissed as still being an old utility, when it was revamped less than a year ago. Seems like the review isn't current and doesn't even say why AAW is "no longer up to the task." Evidently still judging the old AAW program and not the new one. Being a non-techie, I would rather have a real expert's opinion than just some guy's opinion who could be anyone.

by Anonymous on 16. May 2008 - 5:28  (550)

I have not had the opportunity to compare MBAM to superantispyware, though I use both as on demand scanners. It seems that the number or nasties that MWAM detects is growing, but it appears to be far less than superantispyware (although I do not know for sure). Anyhow, I use Comodo firewall w/HIPS (free), Comodo Boclean Antimalware (free), and Kaspersky Antivirus (paid) to protect my desktop system and every attack on my system was prevented. I use A-squared, superantispyware, and occasionally MBAM as on demand scanners. Everybody says it is best to layer protection, and I slathered the layers on THICK.

by Anonymous on 16. May 2008 - 13:03  (588)

On a system running XP SP2 I had BSOD problems with Spyware Doctor. Uninstalling stopped the problem. I'm now running the freeware version of AVG antispyware, but I'd rather have something that actively protects.

by Anonymous on 16. May 2008 - 14:54  (606)

Be careful with Spyware Terminator. There are comments all over the internet about how it is in itself adware. Do the research on it first.

by Lusher on 16. May 2008 - 16:51  (618)

LOL. I love naive comments like this... Particularly from a self-confessed "non-technie".

The "new" AAW program is just a face-lift mainly, very little changes under the hood... Just ask anyone who isn't a "non-technie". Not many real experts in the world (no Gimzo himself doesn't count either), but for those of us removing malware crap day in day out (no that doesn't make us experts), pretty much everyone who does that will tell you ad-aware and spybot are useless against all but the simplest malware. They just haven't kept up with the software architecture changes needed to deal with the toughest strains...

You don't even need to be a technie, just go to the usual forums where technies hang out and try to see the way the wind is blowing....

by Anonymous on 17. May 2008 - 10:48  (694)

I agree with Lusher, I use Avast! Home edition 4.8
and sometimes I feel like avast may be missing out some things, but installing another program with real-time will eat my memory, and I'm very low on memory. On-Demand scans are useful to remove viruses without eating too much memory by themselves, also AVG Anti-spyware Is dead. The new AVG 8 Anti-Virus(It is known to kill a lot of peoples computers) already contains an anti-spyware component

by Lusher on 17. May 2008 - 14:34  (699)

Yes, any new product that is based on signature detection technologies will be initally handicapped in some senses. They might have a stronger and more flexible engine, but they will be less capable of detecting older malware because they lack the older samples (though this depends on the contacts they have and MBAM is active in the antispyware scene). But this disadvantage is minimal at best, and will shrink as time goes by.

"Everybody says it is best to layer protection, and I slathered the layers on THICK."

Not a good idea....

by Anonymous on 19. May 2008 - 0:37  (759)

Lusher,
Your comment "Not a good idea...." is completely wrong. Layered protection is the golden rule for security, including computer security. Although it is not a good idea to run two or more security programs that do the same task (e.g. two real time antivirus monitors), IT IS A VERY GOOD IDEA to run multiple security programs that complement each other. A good example of this is a firewall, an antivirus program, and an antimalware program (Comodo firewall, Kaspersky antivirus, and Boclean Antimalware in the case of the user above). Furthermore, passive protection offers another layer of protection that does not use system resources and can be used to complement the active protection achieved by the programs above (good examples of passive protection that complement each other: spywareblaster, IE-Spyad, and a good hosts file). When you layer complementary security programs, it has been proven that your chance of being infested with malicious code is much lower. In fact, here is a good example...look at the graph on this website: http://www.threatfire.com. Layered protection is recommended in the Best Practices Internet Safety for 2008 (http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic123660.html). In sum, LAYERED PROTECTION IS A GOOD IDEA, and is the best way to protect your computer.

By the way, if you are going to post a comment like "Not a good idea....", you should explain why it is not a good idea.

As far as Malwarebytes and Superantispyware...I have used them both, along with others, but they have NEVER found anything on my computer because of my LAYERED PROTECTION. Based on the info posted on many forums, they both sound like excellent tools.

by Anonymous on 20. May 2008 - 19:58  (844)

Be careful with Spyware Doctor. Its fast, light, yet pretty aware thanks to it's constant monitoring/auto-updating. I was happy with this one for several months (after I dropped the bogged down Spybot v1.5). However, after a recent booched attempt at a windows update (silverware update) spyware doctor went balistic. It detected (hopefully false-positives) 3 trojans (involving approx. 250 system files). Allowing it to clean and quarenteen the trojans caused system errors relating to rundll.exe. Restoring what was quarenteened got rid of the system errors (eventhough SWdr. still blocked direct access to those "infected" files). Only disabling, or uninstalling SWdr. returned the system to normal (I think).

Norton Internet Security (full scan) could not find these problems.

and Spybot reinstalled (v1.52...much much better) could not find these problems (full scan).

by Anonymous on 22. May 2008 - 0:59  (912)

a squared free is the best. period.

by Anonymous on 22. May 2008 - 3:05  (925)

I use spyware terminator because the newer versions of adaware, Spybot, and S. doctor caused freeze-ups.

by Anonymous on 22. May 2008 - 11:27  (945)

super antispyware freeware is tha best spyware for the moment it can remove new malware that can piss you off.
www.ak0n.tk
Mitchelle V. de la Cruz

by Anonymous on 22. May 2008 - 12:46  (950)

I wouldn't trust any PC Tools products (including ThreatFire) now after finding a malware in Spyware Doctor. Good thing trusty Avira Antivir detected it during installation, as i thought it probably was a false positive (Virus or unwanted program 'Worm/Rbot.923528.1 [worm]'
detected in file 'C:\Program Files\Spyware Doctor\SDInfo.sdp.) performed another scan using a-squared and it also detected it as a backdoor malware so i removed it ASAP and uninstalled all other PC Tools products. After performing a full scan again and found nothing but being a paranoid and format-happy n00b i'm reformatting my pc soon after posting this comment.

When in doubt (1)back-up, (2)format and (3)repeat. :D

by Anonymous on 22. May 2008 - 13:11  (952)

use anything but don't use bit-defender as your back up anti virus... have you heard about sockspy.dll? that cause errors with IE7.. every time i open certain programme IE7 shows error of sockspy.dll and i had to close IE... sockspy.dll is a part of BitDefender...

by Anonymous on 23. May 2008 - 17:38  (1014)

Sorry about the double post earlier regarding Spyware Doctor. For some reason my browser didn't update this page and I thought the first entry didn't go through.

About the problems I experienced with Spyware Dr. ; well I am not alone...

http://forums.pcworld.co.nz/showthread.php?p=676705

It may not seem like a big deal until you get a prompt about system files being altered from their original state if you proceed with fixing the false/positives. Fortunatly the quarenteen restore worked like a charm. Whew.

BTW, I was using the google pack edition. Hope it improves.

by spookcentral (not verified) on 24. May 2008 - 0:57  (1038)

You don't mention at all that Microsoft has purposely made Windows Defender unable to install in Windows 2000, thus forcing people to upgrade to XP if they want to install it. What they did was add a single line to the installer telling it not to install in anything less than XP. Of course, where there's a will, there's a way. Remove that line, and Windows Defender installs and functions beautifully in Windows 2000. Someone has already taken it upon themselves to upload a "modified" copy (modified only in the sense that it will install in Windows 2000 not that it's been cracked to allow pirates to use it), which I have personally confirmed to install, run, and update under Windows 2000.

Windows Defender Modified to install on Windows 2000
Ver. 1.1.1593.0 (5.3 Mb) (includes defender, gdiplus.dll, and readme.doc)

This file was modified and uploaded by Jordan Varden and these are his notes as posted to the TechGuy forums:

"I have posted the defender installer on my website, already modified with the launch condition removed. It's in a zip, also includes GDI+ which is necessary for Windows 2000 to launch Defender. Directions included on where to extract the GDI+ files, completely idiot proof."

Since I already have gdiplus.dll in the C:\winnt\system32 directory, I didn't need the copy included in the above zip.

I installed the program in Windows 2000 and updated the definitions on 12/18/2007.

BEFORE:
Engine Version: 1.1.2204.0
Definition Version: 1.0.0.0

AFTER:
Engine Version: 1.1.3109.0
Definition Version: 1.24.4809.0

The program will run and update itself flawlessly in Windows 2000 as long as you have the Automatic Updates service, as well as its own Windows Defender service, both set to manual or automatic.

If you want to know how to MANUALLY alter Windows Defender's install to be Windows 2000 compatible, read this forum thread.

If you'd like more information on the problem (that is, Microsoft's problem with Windows 2000), read this article.
--
Yours Truly,
Paul R.

* Spook Central: The Ghostbusters Companion

by Anonymous on 24. May 2008 - 3:18  (1047)

That is a false positive. I uploaded it to VirusTotal and nothing was found now.
http://www.pctools.com/forum/showthread.php?s=8345bf3436713cd4e31f1b84f5...

by Anonymous on 25. May 2008 - 8:07  (1102)

Thanks alot for the info. Saves me the trouble of finding a new anti-spyware candidate, that'll teach me to do more research next time before formatting everything haha:D

by Anonymous on 25. May 2008 - 18:35  (1134)

In an ealier post on 5/19/08, some guy said "Layered protection is the golden rule for security, including computer security. Although it is not a good idea to run two or more security programs that do the same task (e.g. two real time antivirus monitors), IT IS A VERY GOOD IDEA to run multiple security programs that complement each other." He offered a rather good explaination as to why it is a good idea. I agree completely. If you want to prevent an infection, look at his post.

When dealing with an infected computer, a single scanner appears to be inadequate. So it seems useless to determine which program is best. The truly best approach is to use multiple scanners, because each may detect and clean different nasties. I use a combination of Superantipyware, A-squared, Spybot Search and Destroy, Malwarebytes Antimalware, Rogue Remover, and Windows Defender. Then, I scan with at least two antivirus applications. I also scan with Hijackthis and a rootkit scanner (for more advanced users).
This process has cleaned up every bit of badness when I have used it on an infected computer.

For optimal security:
1) Layered protection for preventing infections.
2) Multiple on demand scanners for maintenance and removal of infections.

Moderator Edit:

Whilst it is a good idea to employ multi-layered security for spyware/adware etc. it is not good practice to have more than one active anti-virus product installed. (passive is probably OK). virus checkers can interfere with each other to such an extent that with more than one active checker in place, they may both stop working effectively. A good rule of thumb with any security software is only ever have one of each active (anti-virus, anti spyware, anti adware). make sure others are on-demand only, and try to stick with a single anti-virus program.

Steve

by Anonymous on 28. May 2008 - 0:21  (1251)

I am not really sure if this is universally correct, but! After installing SUPERantispyware on my computer, there was several warnings from Avast saying there were multiple worms that had entered my computer when installing the program. I am not a computer-savvy person so I do not know how to confirm if its a false alarm, or a actually threat. If you can please look into it.

- Leo

by Anonymous on 28. May 2008 - 23:09  (1311)

Super antispyware is one of the best anti spyware programme.. please can anyone suggest me a anti spyware programme with good real time protection..

by Anonymous on 31. May 2008 - 2:25  (1412)

Commonly used real-time protection that is free:

Commodo Boclean (http://www.comodo.com/boclean/boclean.html) - no on demand scanner, only real-time protection against trojans, worms, keyloggers, spyware, rootkits, adware, etc. Very user friendly and has daily updates.

Threatfire (http://www.threatfire.com/) - has real-time protection and HIPS (which monitors your system for suspicious activity to catch new unknown malware). If your firewall (or other security program) has HIPS, then you do not need threatfire.

I use both of these and they work great, and they are free! They also complement your antivirus and firewall protection.

Some programs that require you to pay for real-time protection: Malwarebytes antimalware, A-squared, super-antispyware. I have not used these for real-time protection, but they come highly recommended on many forums.

Gizmos Needs You

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting

 We are looking for people with skills or interest in the following areas:
 -  Mobile Platform App Reviews for Android and iOS
 -  Windows, Mac and Linux software reviews       Interested? Click here