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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 Anonymous on 6. August 2009 - 7:50  (26499)

- is NOT a Trustworthy site!
It contains WAREZ links with Keygens, Patches, Cracks etc.
- has NO Reliability!

Do NOT Trust their "Tests"!

by Anonymous on 6. August 2009 - 9:20  (26506)

Hi, I was the anonymous guy. I'm aware of the fact that they have some cracks and such, but I've reproduced the same results the other users show. If we take A-squared, I got deleted the most of the 500 malware test, while malwarebytes performed horrible. I myself use Spywarebot S&D because of the immunisation, A-squared and NOD 4.0. NOD which found the most - I believe I had only some 15 samples left - and A-squared found the rest. The only reason I made the post, was to make other users and the author aware of a test that produced a result, that was the opposite (in some ways) from the software they recommend.

by Steve Hargreaves on 5. August 2009 - 19:09  (26478)

It's an interesting read, though I'm always wary of "manufactured" tests. When I perform my test, I do so "in the wild", and so am likely to pick up what most users will pick up day to day. That's not to say that the tests don't give some valid comparisons.

However, whereas those tests are relatively untargetted (for example, the test file includes spyware, adware and viruses), the focus of this particular article is the first two, excluding the latter. When testing I do so on a machine with no AV in place. It's likely that my test machine has dozens of viruses that the products reviewed here do not (and to be fair, are not expected to) detect.

I do not advocate the use of any single reviewed item here as being your only defence, and fully accept that there are threats (virii in particular) that require special attention.


by Anonymous on 6. August 2009 - 10:03  (26511)

As stated above, it was only to tell a different story :)
Your highest recommend product just gave poor result in a major test, while it advertises with its ability to detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats. But it actually came out in the buttom with a low 7,24% removal rate, while the top product in both tests A-Squared(your nr. 4) came out in the top. As said, it's just to give a different picture.

by Anupam on 6. August 2009 - 10:20  (26512)

This is what they said about MBAM, later in the thread:
Just a quick note, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware didn't perform good because we used a huge malware sample, but Malwarebytes Anti-Mlaware is more the useful when it comes to detecting and REMOVING types of malware which are ether undetected or can't be removed by other programs, so it is not bad as it looks.

Anupam Shriwatri

by MidnightCowboy on 6. August 2009 - 10:55  (26515)

Readers of my own ramblings will already know that I view all tests whether they be AV Comp, Matousec, SSUpdater or whatever with a degree of caution. There are too many variables associated with most of them which bear little resemblence to the average persons computer, or the software balance it contains, or the places they visit on the internet.

I liked the anonymous posters attempt to demonstrate a balance between the various options by reproducing an alternative view.

If there is anything concrete to take away from this at all it is that users should not rely on their security apps to prevent infection. This is best achieved by minimizing the risk yourself by concentrating on browser choice and surfing habits.

by Anonymous on 5. August 2009 - 10:00  (26458)
by Anonymous on 5. September 2009 - 11:03  (32188)

MRG=SSUpdater=KeyGens,Cracks,Patches etc.= 100% SCAMS/Crooks!!!

Stay away from them!

See how a WildersSecurity poster Strip MRG Down:

After they exposed:

by Anonymous on 2. August 2009 - 21:21  (26157)

News from the Security Front: Hackers expose weakness in visiting "trusted" (web)sites.
You can read the article here:

For those who do not know, Adobe Corp. has recently released several Security Fixes for Adobe Flash, Reader, Acrobat and AIR. More about this serious matter, here:


by Anonymous on 2. August 2009 - 21:05  (26154)

The best way to clean malware from a system:

Load these tools to your flash drive & run them in the following order:

- Autorun Eater - Scans for dangerous autorun .ini files you may have gotten
- CCleaner - Clean internet & temp files. Under tools, remove restore points
- Nirsoft Startup Run - Disable all un-necessary startup & BHO & reboot
- Hostsman - Remove any host file based hijackers

- Super Antispyware - Remove malware
- Webroot Spysweeper - Remove malware
- Spybot search & destroy - Remove malware

- AVG free - remove viruses
- Firefox setup - Stop IE based malware installs
- Defraggler - Speed up system performance

* Be sure to use updated definitions in any antimalware or antivirus solutions before scanning. Be sure to uninstall Webroot Spy Sweeper, Spybot S&D, & Super Anti Spyware after removing threats. These will load automatically with windows & slow up the user's PC.


by Steve Hargreaves on 3. August 2009 - 19:09  (26210)

In actual fact, SAS uses very little system resources. I just checked it's performance since boot up on my own system (and this is the registered version including real time protection). It's used .4 of a second since boot, and CPU usage history is at 0.00% for the past 30 minutes.

It's also only using 90k of RAM, so hardly what you would call a hog.


by Steve Hargreaves on 1. August 2009 - 19:02  (26122)

I asked the author of SAS to comment on reported problems with SAS on 32 Bit Windows 7. Here's the reply:

"We have an internal version ready for Windows 7 that will be pre-release in a week or so and then public in under 30 days."

So good news then :)

by Anonymous on 30. July 2009 - 17:03  (26030)

I'm sorry...but I'm getting all confused here. Let me first say I switched from AVG to Avast...I was running Spyblaster but I also switched to Spybot S&D...Also have AdAware...and I use CCleaner.

What I'm confused on is what is the difference between AdAware and Spybot S&D? Is it something different all together? Is there anything better than AdAware? The only reason I ask is because I started having trouble with my PC after I bought a new flat screen monitor and it doesn't work with my system...something with the video card...but I cleaned my PC after and I was amazed on how much Spybot S&D picked up as well as Avast...I'm just looking for something better than AdAware and the differences with them plain english Thanks again.

by Steve Hargreaves on 30. July 2009 - 22:09  (26043)

Both AdAware and Spybot, whilst very good in their day, are past their best - although AdAware is making strides to improve. The problem is, malware has evolved, and certainly Spybot isn't keeping up with those changes.

SuperAntiSpyware will do a much better job than Spybot these days, and it's worth trying to see how you like it.

As for the difference, that's a little subjective, but to put it as simply as possible, not including viruses, there are additional threats to your system, in the form of spyware and adware. Adware will do what it's name suggest, and serve your computer with adverts, usually intrusive. It will try to (in no particular order):

Hijack your home page so you go to where it wants you to
Pop up unwanted windows in your web browser advertising (porn usually)
install an application that will pop up other windows advertising (usually porn)

Now that's all well and good, but when the window pops up advertising (porn) whilst you are working on something, or have children around, or simply don't want to be disturbed, and you have no control, then it's an uninvited guest and better done without. Adware is usually intrusive, but not malicious.

Spyware, on the other hand, is potentially much more damaging, from phishing sites (never give them information), to keyloggers. Keyloggers will monitor your keystrokes and usually feed them back to a central server. No problem if all you are doing is reading the news, but not such good news if you are logging into your online bank account.

Both employ different methods of corrupting your system, and both are there to have you part with your money (whether you want to or not).

At the end of the day, you want neither on your system. At best, they will slow down your computer. At worst, they will take all your money and buy bombs for international terrorists and then blow you up. I admit that sounds extreme, but it is certainly not impossible.

On a Windows based system, never underestimate the life threatening potential of malware, and ensure that you have adequate protection.


by Anonymous on 30. July 2009 - 1:03  (25994)

Open DNS is great but Firefox's noscript addon should also be promoted next to it.

by Steve Hargreaves on 29. July 2009 - 22:08  (25980)

I've received some reports that SAS and Win 7 (32 Bit) don't play nicely together, resulting in the dreaded BSOD. Since any Win 7 testing is still based on the pre-release, I'm reluctant to change my recommendations (I know that the RTM version of Win 7 has some low level changes since the last public beta).

However, I've asked the guys responsible for SAS for an official response and will make their reply available when I receive it.


by Anonymous on 21. July 2009 - 12:33  (25486)

SuperAntispyware is awesome. It removed malware from my PC a couple of times, where AVG could not...

Also, using it on Windows 7 without any problems.


by Anonymous on 21. July 2009 - 13:01  (25498)

I meant to say the 64bit version of Windows 7 ;-)


by Anonymous on 17. July 2009 - 16:20  (25258)

How is DriveSentry for Antivirus/ Spyware? Already use Avast but interested in its realtime protection for spyware. Can I use it with Avast?

by MidnightCowboy on 17. July 2009 - 19:23  (25271)

All vendors recommend that you should not run two active anti-malware solutions together. There are solid reasons behind this advice and many people who insist on doing so eventually encounter problems. The only exceptions are programs like a-squared (commercial version) and Iobit 360 which are purpose built to coexist with existing solutions. If you already have Avast! I would suggest that this is a perfectly adequate solution for general home use. Your firewall choice is also a consideration but I would stick with Avast! and then add a standalone scanner like SUPERAntiSpyware if you feel this is necessary.

The free version of DriveSentry is meant to be getting an upgrade soon anyway so you might want to wait for this before making changes.

by Anonymous on 18. July 2009 - 10:22  (25299)

Thanks for the info. Ill stick with Avast for the time being.

At the moment i use:

Avast: Home Edition.
Outpost Firewall.
A Squared.

by JonathanT on 18. July 2009 - 12:07  (25304)

Just to clarify, are you using the free versions of SAS and A-squared?

by Anonymous on 18. July 2009 - 16:56  (25314)

Yeah, im using the free versions.

by JonathanT on 20. July 2009 - 7:18  (25404)

That's good to know. :)

by MidnightCowboy on 18. July 2009 - 10:34  (25300)

I was wondering which firewall you might have and Outpost is a great choice. I think it's the right decision to stick with your current set up and then watch developments in other areas. That said I can't see Avast's position weakening especially with an ex Symantec exec. joining them as CEO. This guy's experience can only serve to strengthen the Avast product further and he is also committed to retaining the free service.

by Anonymous on 15. July 2009 - 13:55  (25144)

Hello one and all

Just a quick possible potential problem with the Comodo BoClean prog'.
I appreciate that the program's download page only mentions XP at SP2 level.

I unfortunately downloaded and installed it on my XP sp3 set up, resulting in re-booting problems. Have just finished re-installing Windows XP. It maybe my set-up or perhaps you cannot use it with SP3?

After my disaster, thought I'll pass it on, just in case.



by Anonymous on 15. July 2009 - 14:45  (25147)


by jason on 16. July 2009 - 8:43  (25178)

That is correct.

BOClean is now a part of Comodo AV.
All updates for the standalone BOClean client have ceased.

by Steve Hargreaves on 27. July 2009 - 19:17  (25842)

BOClean can still be downloaded as a standalone (and free) application from , though it's now part of the anti-malware suite.

I'm giving it some testing, and will be updating the review shortly.


by MidnightCowboy on 27. July 2009 - 19:57  (25843)

Am I miss-navigating here but all I see is a message saying the BOClean is now included as part of the Security Suite and the download link goes straight to this?