Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free 2008 ferrets out harmful Trojans, rootkits and other spyware, along with privacy concerns such as tracking cookies, that may have wormed their way onto your PC.
The feature-limited free version doesn't offer real-time protection, and it will discover security or privacy threats only when you run a manual scan. But it should run happily alongside your existing antivirus (which likely has antispyware features of its own), and can offer an extra layer of protection for your PC.
Ad-Aware's free version also doesn't automatically update, so before you run a scan, be sure to click the Update button on the main program window get the latest spyware definitions. Then hit Scan Now to kick off your first scan.
You can choose between a 'smart' scan which focuses on critical parts of your PC, or a full scan that digs in everywhere. To create a custom scan that only checks particular locations, or to schedule a scan that runs automatically at certain times, you?ll need to upgrade to the paid Plus or Pro versions.
Ad-Aware Free helpfully separates scan results into critical objects that everyone will want to remove, such as Trojans and other harmful spyware, and privacy objects such as tracking cookies or document history that some people might not worry about. You can remove all discovered objects at once or individually.
You?ll find one minor annoyance in the scan results. To find out what each individual cookie actually is, you?ll need to greatly expand the size of the column that names it. Otherwise there?s far too much data on one line to see what?s there. But that?s more than offset by the ability to create a Windows System Restore point from within the software before you remove any objects, in case you accidentally remove something you wanted to keep.
In addition to scans, you can run a 'TrackSweep' capable of clearing browsing history, cache elements, cookies and other data from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera, though each browser has a similar built-in feature. You?ll see additional options in the program for Ad-Watch, which actively monitors for threats, and other additional tools and plug-ins, but you'll need to upgrade to Plus or Pro for the extras. You'll also need to upgrade if you want tech support.
If you suspect you might have spyware on your machine that your current antivirus can't find, grab Ad-Aware Free and run a backup scan. It's an easy-to-use, albeit limited, extra layer of anti-spyware protection.