Best Free Spyware And Adware Remover

 
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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 review is copy-edited by Glyn Burgess. Please help edit and improve this article 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.

 

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Comments

by MidnightCowboy on 5. March 2014 - 5:56  (114807)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here in the comments sections. Please transfer your post to the section of our forum linked below where it will gain better coverage and the responses kept in chronological order. MC - Site Manager.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/security/

by stitch62 on 10. March 2014 - 22:26  (114935)

I just installed Malwarebytes only to discover that it is really only a free 14 day trial. Did I do something wrong? Is there really a totally free version?

by joeguru on 11. March 2014 - 1:27  (114936)

When you install the program, the last window titled Completing the Setup Wizard will give you 3 options. Uncheck the first option to opt out of the trail version. To fix your situation, uninstall the program then reinstall then opt out of the trail version.

by Wolfram on 13. March 2014 - 22:54  (114986)

Is there any (free) application able to protect us against the following threats (spyware / malware)?:

CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE - which is used to take over a targeted computer's microphone and record conversations taking place near the device
GUMFISH - which can covertly take over a computer's webcam and snap photographs
FOGGYBOTTOM - which records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts
GROK - which is used to log keystrokes
SALVAGERABBIT - which ex-filtrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.

The above mentioned programs are designed to circumvent all known encryption tools by capturing the information before it's encrypted.

More about these little-monsters, here:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/03/12/nsa-plans-infect-m...

What do you advise us to do? How can we protect our PCs against such "impossible to detect menaces"?

by joeguru on 14. March 2014 - 2:23  (115000)

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here in the comments sections. Please transfer your post to the section of our forum linked below where it will gain better coverage and the responses kept in chronological order. Thank you.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/security/

by Cefto on 2. April 2014 - 4:03  (115444)

Malwarebytes was updated to version 2.0.0.1000.

The rootkit scan is now included in the program without an additional download, but it is not enabled by default in the settings. :)

by sera2775 on 25. May 2014 - 4:36  (116408)

Hello,

In the review of Spybot it said that it offers real-time protection, but with the version I've installed - the latest - this option is only available for the paid product.

Is it possible to get this with the free version?

Thank you

Nick

by joeguru on 28. May 2014 - 2:56  (116455)

Run the immunization feature.

by sera2775 on 29. May 2014 - 11:08  (116478)

Hi joeguru,

Does this equate to real-time monitoring? or is it something the user needs to update by regularly checking your immunization status?

Thanks

sera2775

by joeguru on 29. May 2014 - 19:53  (116487)

It used to but apparently things have changed. I will have to review the program again and update the information. However the information currently posted applies to the version reviewed, not older or later versions. Thank you for the feed back.

by alex13601 on 3. June 2014 - 5:56  (116572)

I will review spybot tonight, and let you know.

by deborahN on 8. July 2014 - 21:58  (117227)

Hi. I had picked up some annoying adware and was trying all sorts of programs to eradicate it.

This adware was opening new windows, telling me my explorer program was out of date (my explorer automatically updates and checks daily)...download now etc. for every other keystroke!!! if it wasn't telling my explorer and or chrome browser was out of date it was telling me my Java or Shockwave or media player was out of date. all to get me to download something.. I did not fall for it. It just made me more determined to find a program to eradicate it.

Norton couldn't find it.
Norton's Power Eraser couldn't find it.
Microsoft's spyware program couldn't find it. (despite a deep scan which took more than 24 hours to complete)
Spybot couldn't find it.

Malewarebytes... I had used up my trial program months ago.. thank you for telling me how to reinstall it and bypass the trial.

Malewarebytes found and removed all the annoying PUPs! and now I am free of this crazy annoying adware along with a few others it found and removed.

Deb

by MidnightCowboy on 9. July 2014 - 5:08  (117237)

Good to know you got it sorted, Deb.

For future reference, you might like to consider installing the free version of WinPatrol which will alert you to many of these things before they have a chance to take root on your system.

http://www.winpatrol.com/

More related information here.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/what-else-have-you-just-download...

MC - Site Manager.

by George.J on 16. August 2014 - 3:25  (117982)

MalwareBytes Free and Kaspersky Removal Tool wins The AV-TEST BEST REPAIR 2014 AWARD

The best antivirus software in terms of repair: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

The best clean-up tool after an infection: Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool

by George.J on 16. August 2014 - 3:58  (117983)

Guess MBAM's new marketing team is just doing some great stuff out there. :D

http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/malwarebytes-appoints-two-new-s...

Why would Kaspersky's Removal Tool score higher than it's own suite :|

by wreckage on 17. August 2014 - 9:11  (118011)

Has anybody used ADWCleaner? I'd love to see some efficacy tests on that package.
https://toolslib.net/downloads/viewdownload/1-adwcleaner/

Some good things have been said about it.

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/

Cheers.

by Anupam on 17. August 2014 - 9:41  (118012)

It's not a full fledged anti-spyware. It's target is mostly toolbars, adware, etc. You can read that in the description at BleepingComputer itself.

by BootzLeRu3 on 21. August 2014 - 4:47  (118112)

I have used ADWCleaner on more than a couple of occasions. I haven't kept a physical copy in order to avoid conflicts with Microsoft's latest system protection technology.

It always works for me, so far. Not sure what happens in the registry. Be careful to get from a clean site.

It's also very quick to install and to do what it does for your immediate problems.

I am probably going to add to my s/w folder for a little while. Just used it last 08/19/2014. It fixed my problem removing browser highjacker istart123. That stuff is nasty.

If you haven't already used it by this msg date, I would advise you to try it and report your results.

Bootzee

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