As the name suggests, Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ started life as an anti-adware program, and it was a very good one. Over the years it’s added more and more features, and today it’s a fully fledged security suite that scans your downloads, looks out for spyware, compares web addresses against a list of known offenders and stays quiet when you’re playing video games.
It doesn’t offer parental controls or file shredding, which you’ll find in the paid-for versions, but those aren’t really core features.
Why you need it
If the internet was a real place, it would be the downtown Detroit of the Robocop movies, or maybe Doncaster: a place where your friendly neighbourhood policeman is a giant mech with twin machine guns, and where cackling criminals can take over entire chemical plants without anybody noticing.
In that environment you don’t want to go skipping through the streets with flowers in your hair. The state of online malware is so bad these days that your PC can be infected before you’ve even though of buying it. Yeah, it’s that bad.
Taking a PC online without malware protection is rather like jumping out of a plane without a parachute: you may feel liberated at first but you’re not going to have a happy ending.