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Best Free Spyware And Adware Remover

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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.  

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

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
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

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.
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
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
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.

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
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


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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by mkristain on 13. October 2011 - 4:38  (81313)

May be that is a FP :)

by Anonymous1234 (not verified) on 11. October 2011 - 6:05  (81220)

I believe the start up item of Super AntiSpyware mentioned in the revised post is a service which allows the context menu scanning. Version 5, recently released, did not come with anything particularly awe inspiring. It was primarily just some cosmetic changes and enhancements which allowed for a smoother transition to the acquisition.

FWIW- previous upgrades (ie from version 2 to 3 or 3 to 4) were criticized for some exaggerated advertising in regard to enhanced scan speed and detection ability. For instance, when version 4 was advertised to be 150% faster scan speed and detect 150% more malware (I use the numbers as approximates), version 4 was being compared to the original version released how ever many years ago. It was not being compared to the version it recently replaced. So if there are some advertised enhancements they need to be taken in context of prior claims.

by TexShane (not verified) on 2. October 2011 - 19:41  (80765)

Still nothing new Dale, it's been months!

by Terrell (not verified) on 14. September 2011 - 4:37  (79566)

Hitman Pro is detecting CC Enhancer as malware. Anyone else experience this?

by kjohnny76 on 13. September 2011 - 13:47  (79525)

Can Anyone Tell Me Which Is The Best Of These Two Open Dns Are Norton Dns?

by MidnightCowboy on 13. September 2011 - 15:16  (79535)

This depends on what your needs are. Open DNS has content filtering for instance but only phishing (no malware) protection, whereas Norton protects against a broader spectrum of malicious sites.

by kjohnny76 on 15. September 2011 - 1:56  (79624)

So MidnightCowboy Norton Would Be My Best?

by MidnightCowboy on 15. September 2011 - 6:59  (79635)

Affording the best overall "protection" yes, since ClearCloud which led this field is now only available as part of a commercial suite. Keep a close eye on Comodo though which is presently undergoing a big upgrade. You can follow this development in the Comodo forums. Needs to improve on their present service though to match that provided by Norton.

by Anonymous1234 (not verified) on 24. September 2011 - 2:07  (80229)

Does Comodo DNS block malicious sites which have been issued site certificates by Comodo? I have not seen any Comodo certified sites blocked by the Comodo DNS service, so I am wondering if there is some inherent conflict here.

by MidnightCowboy on 24. September 2011 - 6:46  (80241)

You should post this question on the Comodo forum listing the malicious Comodo certified sites you say should be blocked.

by Anonymous1234 (not verified) on 17. October 2011 - 6:35  (81579)

Posting a question in the Comodo forum is pretty useless. Those fanboys over there would be all over a question like I have asked here. I think even Melih has even said that Comodo issues certificates to sites that distribute malware. The issue being that the certificate does not guarantee a site is malware free, just that the site is authentic. At least that issue has been addressed. I just want to know whether Comodo DNS blocks sites even though they have a certificate issued by Comodo. Or does Comodo DNS somehow whitelist a site that has a certificate issued by Comodo.

by Merl (not verified) on 10. September 2011 - 21:12  (79387)

SpywareBlaster has a System Snapshot feature...When would one use this and what does it provide? Thank You

by sahajana (not verified) on 8. September 2011 - 21:36  (79248)

Hazard Shield looks interesting but no updates have been posted since 10/10 and database updates seem to be slow of late too

by MidnightCowboy on 9. September 2011 - 4:47  (79260)

I've not tried this personally but reports in other places about it's stability and performance place it decidedly in the "weak" category.

by SAMZ on 24. August 2011 - 2:05  (78220)

Just in case nobody noticed, version 5 of SAS is out.
Contains a modified UI and from my first go, dramatically improved scan speeds.

by LittleSkink on 28. September 2011 - 9:53  (80499)

I too have gone back to SAS with v5, it picks up way more than AntiMalwareBytes. Most recent scan AMB zero threats detected, SASv5 297!

by Wolfram (not verified) on 20. August 2011 - 21:10  (78055)

- What's Cookin' Doc?
- Persistent cookies!

"Mayer's report follows one from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, on the practice by many websites of using tracking mechanisms that can circumvent the privacy settings on a user's browser. The Berkeley researchers also found that many sites employed supercookie techniques to track users for advertising purposes."

Are these "super-cookies" a form of Spyware?
If "yes", then, is there any anti-spyware program which can identify and delete them?

I take advantage from this opportunity to congratulate the Gizmo's team for its efforts. This website became a Reference in domain.

by Serge (not verified) on 14. August 2011 - 23:24  (77659)

Did I just imagine this or was there yesterday a negative post about Superantispyware and a reply asking for documentaion of such comments? I thought I saw it on this website but where is it now...??

by Anupam on 18. August 2011 - 9:03  (77882)

It was I who had deleted those comments, and for a good reason. I intended to reply to your query of those deleted comments, but it skipped my mind at that time. Sorry for that.

The comments were deleted, because first, they talked about commercial version of SAS, and obviously, its not required here. We are not concerned with the commercial version of SAS. Secondly, there was same old repeated stuff about SAS, which has been discussed before, and because of the repetition, we had closed the discussion on forum too. Posting repeated content over and over is plain trolling, and as MC says, such comments will be deleted, and we are not entitled to post an explanation for it.

We are not against any kind of negative comments about products, but the discussion should be in a proper way, and according to the rules of the site.

I hope this clarifies the query. Sorry for posting late, but I am not sorry for deleting those comments. Any such comments in future will be deleted too, and we won't be posting any explanations.

by MidnightCowboy on 18. August 2011 - 7:09  (77871)

The site moderators do not respond to anonymous trolls who post repeated comments with the same content. All such comments are deleted. Registered members can contact us at any time for clarification about our rules of posting. Please note that some of these apply to the main site as well as to the forum.

by Wolfram (not verified) on 13. August 2011 - 9:14  (77595)

I thought that your readers should know a little more about the hidden (and quiet) "informer" named... Google. The company's own statement confirms everybody's suspicions:

"Google Admits Handing over European User Data to US Intelligence Agencies"

My question is: how can we get rid of this kind of omnipresent spyware?

And why should an Intelligence agency involve Google in its activities?
After all, they can survey people using many other methods.
And they can do it at the ISP level. With, or without, Google's "help".

For example, if I type "Victoria's Secret", in my Google toolbar, why a secret service (like Mossad) should rely on Google to intercept my querry??! They know my IP. And this is (almost) enough.

I think that, under the plea of "helping" the agencies, Google is doing something on its own. Maybe they are building a huge database - only for themselves. Maybe Google is trying to substitute itself to an Intelligence agency! Why am I claiming this? Again, "I will work with the client's material":

"Google CEO Schmidt: We can know everything about you"

I would like to know your opinions about this controversial matter.

Also, do you think that Scroogle is a more private alternative to Google?

by MidnightCowboy on 13. August 2011 - 10:33  (77597)

This is the comments section for Best Free Adware-Spyware-Scumware Remover and we do not wish it to be used as a platform to debate the merits (or not) of Google. Please transfer this discussion to the forum.
Further Google related comments will be deleted.

by AJNorth on 5. August 2011 - 15:21  (76976)

IMHO, a worthwhile addition to the both excellent - and complimentary - MBAM and SAS is Hitman Pro, . As it can be used without actually installing and scans with exceeding rapidity, I almost always use it for a first pass, after which I may run MWBAM and/or SAS.

One 'trick' that I've found that can often speed-up the on-demand scans with MWBAM and SAS (sometimes dramatically) is to temporarily disable the resident real-time anti-malware app, as they can frequently fight with one another (thereby consuming resources). (Just remember to reactivate the resident afterwards, or do a system restart.)

by Duck (not verified) on 28. July 2011 - 4:27  (76337)

In light of the above review-Has version 5 of SAS been improved as far as detection?(and removal) The only tests I have seen have been from MRG. Any other tests anyone is aware of?

by TexShane (not verified) on 13. July 2011 - 23:28  (75418)

So far so good, just waiting on the rest of the review

by MidnightCowboy on 14. July 2011 - 6:22  (75445)

This category has only just been adopted by a new editor. Because of what is involved, it may take a while for new material to arrive in the review. Please be patient.

by Shane (not verified) on 8. July 2011 - 22:03  (75057)

Thoughts on the new review:

1: Why is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware not a gizmos best pick?
2: Needs lots of spell and grammar checking
3: Both programs so far have download pages off of their own websites, maybe you should remove the links to softpedia and CNET, and add the software's own website's download page
4: Looks just a tad bit plagiarized off the old review

by korky (not verified) on 22. June 2011 - 22:22  (74197)

Links to the MalwareBytes point to the SuperAntiSpyware website.

by TJonasslak (not verified) on 9. June 2011 - 18:20  (73566)

My Superantispyware says the spyware definitions are current even though it also says it was last updated on June 5 2011. I know I have updated it since that date. But again each time I attempt an update it is supposedly already up to date... Any ideas with this issue?

by J_L on 15. June 2011 - 22:35  (73855)

Similar things have happened to me in the past. I suggest you re-install it.