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/
2.4.40
44.4 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/
6.0.1146
18.7 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
http://www.malwarebytes.org/
2.0.2.1012
16.5 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 sbwhiteman on 14. November 2013 - 13:34  (112213)

As far as I've seen, independent testing of Spybot has been abysmal. As just one example, PC Magazine concluded, "In testing, it proved almost 100 percent ineffective."

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2412372,00.asp

by joeguru on 14. November 2013 - 18:08  (112226)

Thank you for your comments. I respectfully disagree. The article you quoted was a year old and based on other information at PCMag seemed bias. They don't consider free anti-malware programs effective anymore, so Spybot isn't the only one they have a problem with. Also according to CNET and Softpedia users it's ranked 4/5. Techspot ranked it 4.5/5 in a review dated Nov 2013. There are others. One reason I ranked it so well was in my testing it was the only program that provided real-time protection for free and did a comparable job of removing malware.

If you wish to continue the discussion regarding the effectiveness of Spybot or other free anti-malware products, please post a thread in the Freeware Forum.

by BringBackDOS on 12. November 2013 - 14:32  (112193)

Good Day! I hope you're enjoying a pleasant one. I like your article. It's concise, clear, and helpful except for one small sentance. Is the following a typo, or reference to a program I should also evaluate: In the text about Spywareblaster -> "Spywareblock is the only program reviewed to recommend this step." ...did you mean to write "Spywareblaster" rather than "Spywareblock"?

I believe I'm going to try Spywareblaster first. I hate bulging, intrusive, resource hogging applications that slow down my system and/or annoy me with various notifications and/or sales pitches. My second evaluation will be Malwarebytes.

Let me just add that I don't run any anti-virus software or any other malware, spyware software. I don't have malware protection clicked "on" in my browser (Chrome)... I haven't used any of that junk for as long as I can remember... many years... over a decade... or at least as long as I've been using WinPatrol Plus. I'm a heavy internet user... but No Gaming or anything like that...

WinPatrolPlus by design, blocks and notifies me regarding anything that tries to make Any "system" changes without my permission. I've had no invasions of any kind. Maybe it's just that I'm Lucky... but I don't even use a Firewall. I have had No Issues Whatsoever. I'm now networking my girlfriends Acer Netbook with mine and thought that maybe a little extra protection would be warranted. Although, like I said, if it eats resources of any kind, or annoys me in any way, I'm kickin' it outta here! I believe the secret to a healthy computer, and one that lasts and doesn't get rapidly Downgraded, is to keep one's system Clean and Lean. Enjoy Everything! ~ John B. Owego, NY

by joeguru on 14. November 2013 - 0:25  (112208)

Yes that was a typo, and thank you for pointing it out. I always appreciate comments and feedback.

by gonwk on 4. November 2013 - 17:07  (112019)

I trust Gizmo's suggestion and I use this site for software recommendation ... BUT, I am WARNING all of you people NOT to install "SPYBOT" ... simply put, it is a Piece of CRAP software.

I am amazed how the heck Gizmo, TechSupportAlert, has given these guys a 5-Star.

After installing this Crap ... my laptop was not the same ... I wanted to use this S**T for on-demand Scanner ... and it would NOT let me set it up as such.

So, I uninstalled it using Revo-Unistaller 1.95 Freeware ... heck even Revo had a hard time unistalling it ... SPYBOT (as it's name says it is a SPY ... might as well as treat it as a TROJAN).

After uninstalling ... I guess it is uninstalled ... my Firefox and Chrome slow as dickens ... almost DEAD. Laptop Re-Starts goes into "REPAIR" mode ... Why!?!?

This SPYBOT SUCKS a BIG ONE. HORRIBLE INTRUSIVE Software.

:MAD:

by visualbassline on 23. November 2013 - 5:59  (112471)

I think it may be useful at this point to inform you of Spybots ENTIRE name. Spybot search and destroy. Doing a simple google search of "spybot" turns up quite a few imposters. If it does NOT say Search and Destroy, it is NOT the real Spybot. I have never had a single problem with spybot and have been using it now for at least 6 years. Its always be a safe, reliable program for me.

by joeguru on 24. November 2013 - 3:25  (112497)

Please refer to the developers website. Technically the product name is Spybot 2.2 Free Edition as there are free and paid versions of Spybot Search and Destroy. Either Spybot or Spybot S&D would be correct, and neither term is exclusively used by the developer.

Regarding the Google search, that doesn't really apply here because we provide links directly to the developer. I did a simple Google search for Spybot as you suggested and the first page of search results were all for the correct product, so I can't validate your claim of this being a major issue.

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback and express your concerns.

by joeguru on 7. November 2013 - 6:24  (112083)

Gonwk thank you for your feedback. It's unfortunate when a user has a poor experience with a software, and having such experiences myself with other programs I can certainly understand. I recommend you contact Spybot regarding your concerns with their software and let them know you used Revo, that may have influenced your experience.

Regarding our review and ranking please note under the 5 star rating, one of the cons of this program is "does not uninstall cleanly". This is not to say it will negatively impact your computer, rather you will need to use a cleaner like 360Amigo or Ccleaner to remove the trace files left from the uninstall. When I did the uninstall I used Windows 7 control panel.

If you would like further feedback on this topic, please post a thread in our Freeware Forum. Thank you.

by Stasou on 26. June 2013 - 15:03  (108740)

@ joeguru Which one, is on your opinion the best for on demand scanning?

by joeguru on 1. July 2013 - 18:35  (108885)

Thank you for your question. I would recommend SAS for on demand scanning.

by Stasou on 2. July 2013 - 14:40  (108905)

Thanks!

by Stasou on 19. May 2013 - 12:09  (107863)

SAS was updated to version 5.6.1020.

by Stasou on 10. April 2013 - 14:06  (106963)

MBAM was updated to version 1.75.0.1300 with added ability to scan within archives.

by superceeded on 29. March 2013 - 18:19  (106640)

Can I please just mention that both links to the Malware download sites, in this article, are both broken at the moment (being 30 Mar 2013).

It is of course available on Softpedia
(http://www.softpedia.com/get/Antivirus/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware.shtml)

(I hope I was allowed to post that link?)

:)

PS This is the BEST site, the absolute best site, for just about anything & everything I could ever need in my computer's and/or my life! The information is always correct & well sourced. If I follow the reviews, recommendations & instructions on this site, I am guaranteed to be one very happy customer. Thank you all for all your hard work :)

by Anupam on 29. March 2013 - 18:22  (106641)

Thank you for your kind appreciation :).

Yes, the Softpedia link is allowed.
However, I just checked, and both the links to MBAM are working. Maybe some problem at your end?

by MidnightCowboy on 30. March 2013 - 0:58  (106644)

Both links working from here too. MC - Site Manager.

by Joe A.TT on 30. March 2013 - 1:29  (106645)

...and they work fine on my end too. Conclusion: It's most likely something on the OP's end.

by MidnightCowboy on 30. March 2013 - 2:25  (106646)

This might give more options for the OP to try.

http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/malwarebytes.org.html

Another possibility of course is the computer might be infected. MC - Site Manager.

by Joe A.TT on 30. March 2013 - 2:46  (106647)

Nice suggestion MC. Didn't know such a service existed myself, so I've learned something new too ;).

by F.M. on 9. February 2013 - 17:42  (105245)

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 (free version) named "Editors Choice" for free removal-only antivirus by PCMag.com. See:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2415255,00.asp

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