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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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Average: 4 (259 votes)
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by Fergie (not verified) on 17. July 2010 - 3:20  (54405)

Is it not about time for a recent version of Ad-Aware to be reviewed? Also we need more antispyeare reviews of free products with real time protection. Thanks

by LALOMAN18 (not verified) on 17. July 2010 - 9:41  (54409)

Get Spyware Terminator... if fully funtional with the WebSecure, and a powerful Anti-virus as well... all fully FREE! It does a magnificent job! It arms your computer to the teeth.. yes its fully FREE!!!!! Am amazed it wasn't put as one of the top freeware on the review!

Moderators comment.
Snide remark aimed at the editor and reference to commercial program removed.

by Petra (not verified) on 17. July 2010 - 23:24  (54436)

Spyware Terminator traditionally has been known for strong HIPS but weak otherwise...and heavy. Is this still the case?

by MidnightCowboy on 18. July 2010 - 8:09  (54466)

Yes it is. The HIPS is excellent about warning of suspicious activity but should you choose to allow the process in question to continue (and it's malware), it's unlikely to find it afterward during a scan.

by GiantWaffle on 2. July 2010 - 21:49  (53654)

With all due respect, I have to disagree with some of your results.

Super Anti-Spyware: Excellent!!! You're right about that one! But I personally cannot recommend the free version, because they are constantly offering the Pro version for $19.95, with lifetime updates! I myself bought it and an additional license for my wife's machine with a lifetime update license, for only $9.95 more! And it does a great job both in scanning and in real time mode, as you said.

Spyware Doctor: For finding infections during a scan, I have to give it to SD, hands down! It just finds stuff that the others don't! However, I must admit that while I have a 5 years license, I didn't install it after redoing my system from scratch a while back. The reason is because it is heavy on RAM and loads a bunch of services and not only that, but what you're enabling/disabling in real time mode can be a bit confusing. The way they word it, you're not quite sure if you just turned off something really important, or if you left something on that takes up a lot of RAM and is just too sensitive and this program has both. (: And when you go to exit the program, guess what? You have to wait while it shuts off all of its services, which wouldn't be too bad, but the problem is, that when you reboot the machine, it doesn't reload the software! Rather, when you exit it, it automatically turns off the "Start with Windows" feature and you have to manually start it the next time you boot up. So if you forget that you shut it down, you might go for days without even realizing it and not have that protection.

Ad-Aware: I am really disappointed in this software's latest versions, starting with 8.x! It just doesn't find much any more and it takes forever to load up! And I mean you're counting the minutes! And I have a new laptop. And don't even get me started on loading it on my machine (a 1.4GHz)! And when it automatically exists and reloads to apply updates that you just downloaded, it still takes forever to load back up again!

MalwareBytes AntiMalware: It is nice, quick software, but I uninstalled it after about 90 days, because it never once found even a single problem. Not one. Not ever.

SpyBot: As for this one, I must greatly disagree with you, my friend! While it is a bit slow to load and takes a while to scan (but so does SAS), it does find problems for me and has rarely had a problem cleaning the infections and on those rare occasions where it did, they were very good about getting an update out pretty quick, or at least a separate download beta removal system, to try to help the users out.

by -j (not verified) on 17. September 2010 - 15:21  (58002)

I work IT fr a living. Spybot can't compete with MWB or SAS it detection rate is lower and it repeatedly fails to remove detected malware that the other t2 have no problem with. Of the big 2 MWB is stronger and gets the most use.

I also use hitman pro and Dr.web cure IT which both deserve mention on this board.
[Moderators comment yellow WOT rated product reference removed]

by Anupam on 2. July 2010 - 21:57  (53656)

I have removed the mention and the long discussion of a commercial software. Please... this is a freeware-only site, and we do not allow discussion of commercial software on here. If you have a freeware software to talk about, then its OK... but glorifying a commercial software is not allowed on here. If you want to talk about commercial software, there are other sites on the internet.

Next time, the whole comment will be deleted.

by MidnightCowboy on 28. June 2010 - 21:24  (53400)

In the end, we decided to award eight of the ten licenses donated by Immunet for our "how to stay safe online" competition winners here:

The remaining two plus three more will be given away to the first five members to send me what I think are the funniest one sentence reasons why they should get one! Humorous personal abuse is acceptable so long as it's only directed at me :D

Entries by PM only please. Keep them clean as we need to publish the results!

by Anonymous on 18. June 2010 - 17:45  (52424)

I started using Malwarebytes' Anti-malware when it first appeared (bought it) and have used it ever since. Soon after, SUPERAntispyyware appeared and I have been using the Pro version ever since as well, constantly referring to Gizmo's all-time best for new appearances. Readers of Gizmo's site will verify that we users would be lost without MBAM and SAS; and my question is, why the paucity of more good anti-spyware/malware programs to combat this slimy plague?
It's a wide-open field, ripe for MBAM and SAS to work in by constantly improving their ware.
Come on good guys, how about it, with thorough realtime protection which we ordinary internet users would welcome - and any other improvements
as well.

by Anonymous on 25. June 2010 - 19:44  (53136)

Hitman pro has become part of my trinity of goto antimalware scanners including MWB and SAS. Of the 3, I feel MWB and Hitman are the best and SAS comes in second.

Hitman is only free for 30 days... unless you download, install, run it and then uninstall. The next time I need it I rinse and repeat.

FWIW Hitman is one of a VERY few apps that will detect and remove the latest TDL3 rootkit virus.


by Anonymous on 25. June 2010 - 19:54  (53138)

Oh yeah I forgot to mention that since Hitman is cloud based it's REALLY fast. Most scans are under 5 minutes and many are under 3 minutes depending on the PC in question.

The coolest part is that it scans you PC using all the detection databases of several top quality brand name security suites Like Prevx, G-Data, Dr. Web and NOD32.

by MidnightCowboy on 18. June 2010 - 10:09  (52388)

Win a License for Immunet Protect Plus!

Followers of Immunet Protect cloud based antivirus will be aware that the 2.0 version has just been released.

I have to say that I’ve been quite impressed with how Alfred Huger and the rest of his team have conducted this exercise. Their dedication and commitment to customer generated improvements is a sure fire lesson some other vendors would do well to copy. The net result is an effective antimalware solution which will continue to improve as development moves forward. A bonus is that the program will run alongside many of the traditional solutions. The official and unofficially supported programs are listed here:

In recognition of the feedback received from TSA members, Immunet have graciously made available 10 free licenses for the “Plus” version of Immunet Protect. In order to give everyone a fair shot at these we’ve decided to run a competition. All you need do to enter is to write a short piece about the steps you take to stay safe online, including the *programs you use and why you think these are the best solutions.

*Any entries containing references to commercial products will be disqualified.

Entries should be submitted to myself by using the “Contact Info” button which is accessible by clicking my user name (MidnightCowboy) in the forum.

If you are not already registered for the site please use the "register" button at the top of the forum page.

The ten winners will each receive a free license for the “Plus” version of Immunet Protect and their entries will be published in a special “Security” section forum thread.

Closing date for receipt of entries is Monday 28th June, 2010.

The judges decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into concerning entries.

by GiantWaffle on 2. July 2010 - 22:00  (53657)

No disrespect, but why would anyone jump at getting licenses to this AV software?

Seriously. I mean users tend to have AV software installed already and unless they're either ignorant of how this stuff works and jump at everything that someone says is good, or know that what they have now sucks, why would people start uninstalling their current AV software, to go with something they're not sure about, just because someone posts an ad as you did, that is designed to drum up business by trying to make it sound exciting and as if people are stampeding to get there before 10 licenses are gone? In reality, if I went for it now and made it, that would tell me that no one uses the software! :)

And no offense to anyone (really), but anyone who decides to install this one along with what they already have on their system and ends up having more than one AV package on a machine at one time, is probably one of those who fit into the first description above. Again, no offense. I'm just saying that they wouldn't be the best testers for you and I'm telling you this, because you might want to ask people before giving them the free license, if they plan on trying to leave their current AV software on their systems.

And I know that I don't personally trust any software that says it won't have a problem working with other AV software, based on the way that AV software works and at what level in the OS. And I don't (maybe I missed it) understand why anyone would need to go for one of these free licenses, when it claims to be free anyway?

So how much has my blondness missed here? :) And be easy on me!

by MidnightCowboy on 2. July 2010 - 23:08  (53659)

blondness is not an affliction but a gift. It is also unfortunately a term much misused by some to categorize a certain segment of society. Even more unfortunate are those who don't even have to try very hard to fit into it :)

by HeWhoRocks on 2. July 2010 - 22:14  (53658)

Where to start? Firstly, your blondness has entirely missed the point of Immunet Protect. Immunet is designed to compliment your existing security setup and on my system runs without conflicting with any of my other security apps. Nothing needs to be uninstalled and d'ya know what? go to the Immunet site and read about the product before making ridiculous assertions that not only do not stand up to the vaguest of scrutiny but also make you appear foolish. Oh, and none taken :)

by Anonymous on 18. June 2010 - 7:18  (52377)

Why no mention of Windows Defender?

by Anonymous on 25. June 2010 - 19:39  (53135)

Because it is, and always was, useless!

MS Security Essentials has replaced defender and it is actually one of the best freebies

by Anonymous on 18. June 2010 - 18:24  (52425)

windef is old hat (and not v good)! mse replaces it.

by Anonymous on 13. June 2010 - 19:18  (52039)

Just wanted to point out a good scanner for those of us that like second opinions please try this product won't be disappointed:
http://w w w its called wassup?

by Anonymous on 12. June 2010 - 9:41  (51968)

Hi everyone I've just got a question about something that has been happening lately on my system. I have recently done a fresh factory restore format and reinstall of Vista. I have lately been getting redirected I use comodo internet security and using panda cloud free 1.1 with usb vaccine, ad-aware and malwarebytes antimalware as on demand with the new version of emsisoft antimalware free 5. Lately I was doing some web browsing and I'm getting redirected to rogues this normally didn't happen before I've scanned with everything so far nothing found not even panda which I would have thought would pick up something suspect even if it didn't have a name for it. kinda annoying I was typing this and was redirected almost like something was sending it to my IP address since I wasn't doing a search or anything.Comodo picked up ApplicUnsaf.Win32.Spy.Agent~chn@16595105 found in C:Windows\System32\rpcnetp.dll so I'm thinking that panda cloud let something through not sure why I've tested panda before and its blocked everything on the malwaredomainlist even the new stuff. Anyways just want some insight in to this I'm running out of programs to scan with Hitmanpro didn't find anything emsisoft ad-aware superantispyware comodo pandacloud nothing found anything.

by Anonymous on 13. June 2010 - 19:19  (52040)


I would recommend scanning your system in Safe mode with each of those programs set to their highest settings and you can try Comodo DNS; if you have not already:

After that make sure that your operating system is up-to-date, your browsers, plug-ins, etc.

Also you may want to clear your temporary internet files, history, cookies, etc. from each browser and your system Temp using Windows built in Disk Cleaner or CCleaner or Comodo System Cleaner.

And you may even want to submit your whole Program Files Folder and Windows folder using Comodo's Anti-virus Submit Files option in the program; maybe you have some new hard to detect malware hidden somewhere, and submitting the file or files may help it finally be detected.

Anyway, good luck.

by Anonymous on 13. June 2010 - 8:44  (52017)

I would recommend changing your dns provider to opendns or dnsadvantage.

by MidnightCowboy on 12. June 2010 - 10:01  (51970)

According to the Comodo forums this is a false positive

In order to be able to offer something more constructive it might help to know which browser you are using (plus extensions if any) and which addresses you were being redirected to. The second might give some clues as to the malware behind the redirections if one exists.

by Anonymous on 13. June 2010 - 19:38  (52041)

Well MidnightCowboy I'm sorry I'm a bit late with this post but to answer your question I used Mozilla as my default browser WOT and Trusteer Rapport as well. I haven't downloaded any addons yet and don't want to clutter my system with unneeded addons or applications. Since the last post I've removed panda and the usb vaccine addon as well as added Prevx with evaluation monitoring on just to help. I have still been getting some redirects but since I added WOT none of the pages have had a good rating. They have all also when I'm typing sometimes my mouse button just goes back to the middle of my page as well. Just getting the feeling that something is either hiding on my system or is not working properly. Prevx hasn't found anything I would have tried Immunet but its useless never found much in my testing of it. I did put antikeylogger on rapport. Oh interesting new development I was just checking out the best free security list in the world and came across a new program called wuzzup? apparantly I have a virus on my system W32.Virut.Gen.D-159 so that would make sense. Apparently its good at hiding so now I'm really going to recommend that you try that out. Very Happy for this site sometimes we stumble on the answer ourselves just asking the question.

by Anonymous on 13. June 2010 - 19:52  (52042)

I forgot to mention that I was using Returnil and I guess something got by it in system safe I did do some testing of a few sites but panda did find them. I wanted to test in system safe mode to make sure panda was really able to run with existing AV/AS security programs. It worked ok I guess here is a good way to say they don't remove everything well. For those of you I'd still wait on Cloud technology MSE is a good mix of both or go back to Avira.It let W32.Virut.Gen.D-159 in. And wanted to ask which DNS settings I should use OpenDNS, DNSAdvantage or Comodo SecureDNS. I'm in Canada and do know they are all american based not a issue just wanting to find the best option for me.

by Anonymous on 11. June 2010 - 1:06  (51873)

Superantispyware just released a few updates and program improvements-should these be expected to improve their seemingly faltering reputation?

by Anonymous on 11. June 2010 - 17:27  (51913)

'....seemingly faltering reputation?'
where do get this from?

by Anonymous on 11. June 2010 - 20:00  (51924)

From the Wilders forums...Read it yourself

by MidnightCowboy on 11. June 2010 - 21:34  (51931)

The idea of this or any forum is to share information and experiences. In this respect it's always courteous to provide a link to any source quoted so that other members and visitors can then read these for themselves. This kind of abrupt reply to a genuine request for information about the source achieves nothing except to demonstrate the ignorance with which it was made.

by Anonymous on 4. June 2010 - 15:38  (51207)

I think there will be a new software to look at in this category : NoVirusThanks Malware Remover.