In the beginning, Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware was the king of free antivirus programs. Ad-Aware was sweeping Windows machines, eliminating malware, spyware, Trojans and other malware before most consumers even knew what a worm was. But since then, the threat of viruses has heightened, and a dashing newcomer has joined the fray. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware has recently deposed Ad-Aware on CNet’s Spyware Removers ranking, which means PC users now have a choice when it comes to trusting a virus protection scanner with the fate of their computer security. How do they stack up against each other? Read on to find out.
Ad-Aware celebrated its 8th anniversary by giving itself a major overhaul. While previous version elicited complaints from long time users of false positives (particularly in regard to tracking cookies) and feature bloat, Ad-Aware is back with a vengeance with a more user-friendly interface and faster performance. The free version gives you a QuickScan—which takes about 10 minutes depending on the size of your system—and a full scan ,which takes its time in performing a deep scan of your system. All the while, you get handy notifications of what its checking for and expandable menus that let you drill down for more details. Ad-Aware also comes with Ad-Watch Live, which runs in the background and protects your computer in real time.
The free version of Ad-Aware is a bit crippled when compared to the paid version. For example, you don’t get registry protection, behaviour-based heuristics, rootkit detection or the ability to scan network drivers. The free version also lacks a scheduler.
Advantages: Ad-Aware has perhaps the best name brand recognition and trust of any malware removal tool. Plus, with the latest version, you get anti-virus protection as well. In tests, Ad-Aware found a few items that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware did not.
Disadvantages: Some of Ad-Aware’s best features are off-limits to free users. Ad-Aware runs a little bit slower than Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, but this may be due to the fact that it’s performing additional searches.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.4.6
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is now the spyware removal tool of choice for many Ad-Aware defectors. When Ad-Aware’s performance began slipping, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware presented itself as an attractive alternative with its easy-to-use interface, lightweight footprint and speedy performance. Malwarebytes also proves to be very effective in differentiating between genuinely malicious software and false positives. Malwarebytes also packs a few extras, such as on-demand scanning, which lets you scan individual files, and FileAssassin, which lets you delete locked files. Like Ad-Aware, Malwarebytes’ scheduler isn’t available in the free version.
Advantages: Very robust spyware removal tools. Allows both system-wide scans and targeted removals.
Disadvantages: Does not include an anti-virus and free version doesn’t provide real-time protection.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Ad-Aware 8 are very closely matched in terms of features, performance and interface. Both spyware removal tools are much better in their paid version than with the free version, but the free version remains a full-featured and useful tool. Given that the differences between Ad-Aware and Malwarebytes are small, yet significant, it makes sense to download both. Both are free tools, and by canvasing your computer with two overlapping solutions, you can ensure greater protection of your system and network.