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 category is maintained by volunteer editor joeguru. 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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Comments

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

by rfithen on 10. December 2012 - 19:18  (103491)

Re: MalwareBytes "A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer". So can you give us a link? Cause if you can't, I would consider omitting that line.

by admrich on 11. December 2012 - 3:27  (103501)

Hi,

I'm not too sure if you did 'Google' it at all ?

.. in amongst the 1st few links =>

http://portablexapps.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/malwarebytes-anti-malware-p...

or Script it yourself as per another link =>

I've made an auto-installer to make malwarebytes "almost" portable or as close to it. (install, choose to update or not, run, uninstall) completely automatic if no threats found!

This is of course using the approved normal install downloaded from malwarebytes.org. I'll just post my batch scripts, one to run, the other to update. So, it should be legal because it's using the normal malwarebytes downloads.

1. create a folder called "malwarebytes" on your flash drive, download the latest from malwarebytes.org and save there.

2. download choice.exe and save to the malwarebytes folder http://winsupport.org/utilities/freedos-choice.html

3. copy and paste the text of these two scripts to text files on your flash drive, rename them to whatever.bat

4. use "runmalwarebytes.bat" to run the program, the first one will call the second batch if you push y to update, or in 5 seconds it will continue with current version on the flash drive already.

(runmalwarebytes.bat)
@echo off
cd \Malwarebytes
set drive=%cd:~0,3%
echo %drive%
echo installing Malwarebytes
FOR %%M IN (mbam*.EXE) DO %%M /silent
echo.
choice /b /c:yn /t:n,5 PRESS Y TO UPDATE BEFORE RUN
if errorlevel 2 GOTO NOUP
if errorlevel 1 (
call update-rules.bat
"C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbam.exe" /scan -full -terminate
goto end
)
:NOUP
xcopy malwarebytes "c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\malwarebytes" /y /s /c /d
"C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbam.exe" /scan -full -terminate
:end
"C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\unins000.exe" /SILENT

(Update-rules.bat)
@echo off
set drive=%cd:~0,3%
echo %drive%
if not exist "C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbam.exe" goto end
echo updating malwarebytes
"C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware\mbam.exe" /update
xcopy "c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\malwarebytes" %drive%\malwarebytes /y /s /c /d
:end

by Paxmilitaris on 21. February 2013 - 22:29  (105644)

I agree with rfithen. I did google it, but i don't like to download security software from unknown sites. I checked both Portableapps.com and The Portable Freeware Collection, but no luck on MBAM, except for the script and that's not what i call portable. A link to a reliable portable version should be included when the developer doesn't offer the portable version.

by AJNorth on 3. November 2012 - 14:50  (101798)

SUPERAntiSpyware has been updated to v5.6.0.1014 (2012.11.02) - https://www.superantispyware.com/index.html; the complete (and cumulative) release history can be found at https://www.superantispyware.com/producthistory.html?id=SUPERANTISPYWARE....

by AJNorth on 13. September 2012 - 16:04  (99217)

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware (free) has been updated to v1.65.0.1400 (2012.09.11), incorporating several new features, improvements and bug fixes (full changelog at http://www.softpedia.com/progChangelog/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware-Changel...). The executable weighs-in at 10 MB and can be downloaded from Softpedia at http://www.softpedia.com/get/Antivirus/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware.shtml.

by Screaming Eagle (not verified) on 5. August 2012 - 23:51  (97257)

Malwarebytes AntiMalware Free is free for only non-commercial use. I don't see any mention of it on any of the web pages, but the installer has a checkbox to agree that it is for non-commercial use.

by admrich on 15. July 2012 - 23:08  (96224)

Hmmm,

I am a bit upset,
MBAM is no longer free!

The download is now a trial only for 30 days with limitations.
Off to the re-review boards to re-assess some more.

Any/all pointers to free products that aren't among the above recommendations are welcome along with your experiences & comments.

regards,

MhR

by MidnightCowboy on 16. July 2012 - 6:03  (96248)

They still advertise a free version as do Softpedia.

http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Antivirus/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware.shtml

The last time I looked at this, the trial was indeed offered as an option at the time of install, but could be declined.

by Lanaka on 28. January 2013 - 2:56  (104873)

Might want to let the editor of this category update the link for Malwarebytes. CNET has disappointed by now forcing one to do an extra step of downloading clutterware that THEN downloads the desired software. I've used your link to Softpedia to get MBAM. I refuse to be forced to download clutterware (CNET and Brothersoft now both do this). There's another service, but I do not recall which it was, that also do this too. I really hate this downloader crap as it's REALLY easy to include an OpenCandy or ItemMonetizer routine to such downloads. Then you're stuck with it.

EDIT
I stand corrected, just noticed that there is a warning in the body of the text, I missed it because I went straight to the download link section which doesn't make any mention thereat.

-Lance

by e_mortal on 10. June 2012 - 8:03  (94627)

I've been using SuperAntiSpyware for a couple of years, but noticed here that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has a better detection rate so I downloaded a copy to give it a try (they currently offer a 15 trial free trial of the pro version). I did a complete scan with MAM and it didn't detect any threats. I then ran SAS and it picked up 7 tracking cookies (mainly google). Does this mean that MAM has different criteria? I don't have much tech knowledge but I think that a google cookie would hardly be a difficult thing to detect.

by Barrett Linton on 10. October 2012 - 7:18  (100571)

I am surprised that SuperAntiSpyware can still find tracking cookies despite my use of CCleaner.

Tracking cookies spy on you and me. Although they are not immediately harmful as they only compromise our 'privacy', I feel that anti-spyware program should remove these.

by MidnightCowboy on 10. June 2012 - 9:59  (94631)
by e_mortal on 10. June 2012 - 10:23  (94633)

Thanks for the links. Does this do the same as Ghostery?

by admrich on 10. June 2012 - 9:07  (94629)

This has been highlighted & discussed here before.
Tracking cookies aren't really Adware, Spyware or Scumware. & it is to some degree questionable how they're harmful in regards to compromising your machine or your software.
If they're of concern & you wish to prevent/stop them Configuration of browsers, among other things, can reduce information passed back the sources of tracking cookies.
Avoiding the sources of tracking cookies through things such as WOT & other www blacklist software/sites can also help.

by e_mortal on 10. June 2012 - 10:24  (94634)

thanks for the info

by Kzo (not verified) on 23. April 2012 - 15:47  (92461)

It would be nice if this section (or one similar) offered some free programs which augment anti-virus programs by offering real-time protection. Such programs as Anvi's anti malware program (I'm not endorsing this program, I just noticed it) are newcomers. Spyware Terminator has been a real-timer for a while, with uneven performance. Admittedly the reviews of these are very hit and miss. Still, a real-time guard from malware might be a nice addition to these on-demand selections.

Thanks

by admrich on 24. April 2012 - 1:14  (92496)

I'm not too sure how well RT scanners fit into existing categories or whether they'd need a separate category.

This Category is specifically Best Adware-Spyware-Scumware Remover with no requisites for it to be scanner only or Resident/Real-time scanner.

There's probably 5 or so categories in total & I'm inclined to suspect that an AV Suite certainly needs to incorporate RT scanning for all threats possible. Mind you, best practices tend to indicate multi-layered approaches in many circumstances.

by MidnightCowboy on 24. April 2012 - 4:48  (92505)

You make a good observation admrich about how to categorise these other products. Currently, we prefer to stick with the existing classifications if for no other reason than to avoid adding even more confusion into the minds of average folk who make up the bulk of our readership.

Some products claim to be complimentary but still provide a list somewhere of likely conflicts which 95% of users won't read before installing them. There are other products too such as Returnil System Safe Free which is a virtualization program, but also with a real time guard.

On balance, average users will be better served by using one of the single broad spectrum products listed in our Best Free AV review, together with a secondary passive scanner. Other layers such as possibly the addition of a firewall + HIPS, DNS filter and site rating agent (WOT) are worthy of consideration, but IMO loading up with additional programs running in real time is unlikely to increase protection.

by Anupam on 24. April 2012 - 8:20  (92512)

I think that if an anti-spyware offers realtime protection, it can be included in the same review here. After all, the review is about anti-spyware. It just so happens, that the free software in this category do not offer realtime protection, and reserve it for their commercial versions. So, if a free anti-spyware does offer realtime protection, it will indeed be welcome.

The anti-spyware software do differ from antivirus software, and so they are placed in different categories, and it should be that way.

I do believe however, that the trojan remover category, and this one, can be combined though. They have almost the same software.

by admrich on 24. April 2012 - 9:55  (92516)

They may have same or similar software but also have different & specific roles & functions - Adware, Spyware & Scumware are quite distinct from Trojans.

This maybe semantics, but as stated already what your asking for is really something that should certainly exist in a primary/broad/general AV Suite.

Many of these categories are realistically tools to facilitate cleanup functions upon hardware not normally covered by your Primary AV Suite or worse still compromised machines.

We should possibly clarify what your aim/target is?

by MidnightCowboy on 24. April 2012 - 9:27  (92513)

We still need to bear in mind though that the core title here refers to "best Remover" which can be very different to "protector".

by Anupam on 24. April 2012 - 9:39  (92514)

Ah! That's just linguistics... maybe because there are no free anti-spyware with realtime protection, that's why such a title.

I don't think we should crop up another category of anti-spyware which offer realtime protection, or put them in antivirus category, just because they have realtime protection. Both of the above dont make any sense.

The title can of course be changed, with the "remover" removed, to fit in the software with real-time protection.

by admrich on 24. April 2012 - 10:04  (92517)

As per previous responses, any broad general AV Product should already perform Resident/TSR/Real-time scanning & a category already exists for these.

NB Having multiple Real-Time/TSR apps running is a huge performance hit as with AV Products they have to intercept & filter all I/O requests including Disk, File, eMail, Web Protocols + more at the lowest possible layer.

by Anupam on 24. April 2012 - 12:37  (92524)

This comment should cover my response to both your recent comments.

From what I understand, it looks like that you want to place software with real-time protection under the AV category. But, I don't understand this point.

There is a reason that some software are classified as antivirus, and some as anti-spyware, anti-adware etc. Its because they target different malware. Antivirus and anti-spyware(and the likes), can all be called as anti-malware in broader terms. However, they are still classified as anti-spyware, and antivirus when it comes to differentiation. Its because anti-spyware target the malware that spy on your computer and data.. hence spyware... whereas the antivirus target the virus, which cause disruption on the system, and are different than spyware.

Like you said that there is a difference between spyware, and trojan... similarly there is difference between spyware and virus. And hence, different categories.

So, my point is that just because a software has real-time protection, does not mean that it should automatically be placed in the AV category. Yes, the AVs have real-time protection, but they still remain antivirus targeting virus. Whereas, even if an anti-spyware has real-time protection, it essentially remains an anti-spyware, and therefore should be placed in the anti-spyware category, and not in the AV category.

Its true that nowadays AVs can catch some spyware too, but for the most part, they target virus... and therefore, software such as MBAM, SAS etc still exist as anti-spyware, otherwise they would cease to exist. Now, if in future, MBAM provides real-time protection in the free version too... it would still be placed under the anti-spyware category, right?

I hope you understand the point that I am trying to make here.

Anvi which was suggested by the user above, essentially is an anti-spyware, and therefore, belongs to this category only, and not the AV category.

I do agree with you that multiple security software with real-time protection would slow down the system quite a lot, specially, on older systems. However, the anti-spyware with real-time protection generally are meant to compliment the resident antivirus, and as they primarily target different malware, they should not conflict with each other. Only thing is the machine should be able to handle that much of load.

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