With reports showing that 80 per cent of PCs have at least one unwanted program lurking somewhere, anti-virus protection alone isn't enough. For complete protection you also need an anti-spyware solution.

Spy Sweeper is one of the leading professional products in this area and is leaps and bounds ahead of the numerous freeware alternatives, such as Microsoft's Windows Defender and Ad-Aware from Lavasoft.

Installation of the program was painless and restart-free and it took just nine minutes 52 seconds to scan our 55GB test laptop for nasties. The laptop was several years old and well used, making it a good test machine. Spy Sweeper provides a handy progress log which indicates any culprits it's found so far. In the end it found a colossal 109 items and 261 traces of spyware lurking.

In contrast, Windows Defender (still in beta) detected a pathetic four spyware programs on the same laptop, while Tenebril SpyCatcher, found a piffling two items. This is probably because SpyCatcher only had a paltry 89,366 spyware fingerprints to search for, compared to Spy Sweeper's impressive 114,552.

Spy Sweeper's interface is well thought out and intuitive. Once you've scanned, simply click Next and you're onto the Remove screen to see more details on each offender. Each program's given a risk rating and description, so we felt well informed in our decision to remove it. The removal process was quick with 107 spyware programs dying instantly.

Spy Sweeper protection goes even further, offering shields to prevent browser hijacks, items being added to your PC's start-up lists or items being installed as browser add-ons. You need a robust solution to be properly protected. Spy Sweeper offers by far the best protection and simply brushes aside the competition.