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.
With every new generation of malware (adware, spyware, 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..

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
44.4 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
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

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
16.5 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
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.
Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8 /Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Later


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.
18.7 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Feature limited freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Supports all web browsers. Lanuages; Danish, French, German, Italian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish. Supported formats: 32 and 64 bit
Win 2000 - Win 8


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.
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 maintained by volunteer editor Lord Chaos. 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.


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All four of the suggested software tools for removal of adware/spyware in your selection guide require installation on your computer "Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer". I am travelling, have picked up an adware infection that keeps popping up on my computer but I don't have my admin password & ID with me. Is there a tool that I can connect to on-line that scans & will remove it without me needing to install anything as I cant at the moment?


THis is what Sophos says about the threat

Virus Name: McAfeeGW: Heuristic.BehavesLike.VBS.Exploit.A
File Name: set_inf2.php
Filter Name: HTML Filter

Hi Miss Souza, you can try ESET Online virus scan. If you run it using Internet Explorer, it will run in the browser. The spam filter in this site blocks the link for it when I post it. Search for the webpage using Google and click the link on the left side. Good luck.

You can also try this tool. Try it first.


Thanks Bo for your swift response.

Unfortunately the adwcleaner requires me to download & I need administrator priveleges - so can't use it.

Even the ESET virus scan (though on-line) initially requires that I have administrator priveleges to download an active-x control - as stated in the help below:

"Need assistance with ESET Online Scanner?
ActiveX controls are programs that use Microsoft's architecture for running applications through Internet Explorer. The ESET Online Scanner is implemented as an ActiveX control, which means you must first download and install it before the program can be run through the web browser. To install or uninstall the ESET Online Scanner ActiveX control, you must have Administrator privileges"

Any other ideas? - I really appreciate your help

Just an update here on the SPYBOT listing. SPYBOT no longer provides real-time protection!

You have to buy SPYBOT to get that perk. Spybot will allow malware and spyware to access your computer in the free-ware version. It will only be removed if you scan your system and find it.

Bummer! SPYBOT use to be top of the line. But now they won't protect unless you pay.

i think the reviewer was indicating that the immunization feature was the real time protection. and i guess, it kinda is (but not in the traditional way you'd usually think of it - as real time scanning with the engine, etc).

USE THE OLDER SPYBOT FREE VERSION WITH TEA TIMER. must have tea timer to have REAL-TIME protection. it downloads up to date definitions in the main spybot window as well as immunizes and scans and fixes (deletes) any found ads. also use adwcleaner. it found a lot that no other software found. thanks for that gizmo. i hadn't heard of it (or just havent used in years and forgot). tea timer is the real deal. i use scotty winpatrol but it is spotty performance. tea timer works every time.

how about window defender (the original spyware one, not the new antivirus). it comes free with windows 7 (and xp), has auto updates and real time protection and free cleanup. gives download scanning etc.

and i agree with another poster, ADWCleaner is sweet.

(i don't consider malwarebytes an antispyware?? but maybe that's just me)

Ah I see, thanks for the explanation.

Malawarebytes Free identifies very few tracking cookies, even on Threat Scan, whereas Spybot identifies lots. I am using the default settings for both programs.

Most antimalware programs will not flag tracking cookies because they are neither malware, nor a threat, but a privacy issue. You can control these items with browser extensions such as Ghostery and Privacy Badger. MC - Site Manager.

It seems I was wrong about Spybot, on one hand it is too aggressive in that it appears to delete a lot of saved user names and such like.
On the other hand it missed OpenCandy, SearchProtect, Trovi and Clientconnect - all of which were detected and quarantined by Malawarebytes free edition.

Has anybody used ADWCleaner? I'd love to see some efficacy tests on that package.

Some good things have been said about it.


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.


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.

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) 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.


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. More related information here. MC - Site Manager.


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


I will review spybot tonight, and let you know.
Run the immunization feature.

Hi joeguru,

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



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.

Malwarebytes was updated to version

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

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:

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

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.

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?

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.

Hi JoeGuru. I have been computing for many years now and never run into any problems with malware, adware, viruses, etc. until............the kids! For some unknown reason, they seem to find it if it's out there! I actually got rid of the last 2 laptops and bought a general use desktop computer for the kids and a higher spec laptop for myself.
Two my children are on the desktop is there anything 'extra' that should be added to the PC to give extra security for their use? And, I bought a the new laptop solely for my own use as I am going to University full time but I would like to protect it as best I can. What would be your recommendation for both or either?
My laptop has windows 8.1 and I'm not sure if all software has been updated to operate with this system?.?.?

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.