Adaware Antivirus Free review

Basic virus protection wrapped up in a shiny new interface

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Our Verdict

The lack of features, disappointing performance, and poor threat detection mean that this is a security tool that's hard to recommend.


  • Gaming mode kills notifications
  • Can be installed alongside other protection tools


  • Imperfect virus and malware blocking
  • No proper email protection
  • Unsupported features show up in the interface

Formerly known as Ad-Aware from Lavasoft, Adaware Antivirus Free is the new name for a familiar tool. Except it's not all that familiar because there has been a dramatic overhaul as well as a rebranding.

Adaware Antivirus Free

Where to download:

Type: Antivirus

Developer: Adaware

Operating system: Windows

Version: 12

Interestingly, the program includes the option to install it as a "second line of defence" alongside an existing antivirus tool. This means that you miss out on real-time protection, but still benefit from scheduled and manual scans. What most people will be interested in, however, is a regular installation as a primary source of protection.

What's striking about Adaware Antivirus Free is that there are so few options to work with – although the non-working options that you need to upgrade to would have you believe otherwise. Independent tests show that Adaware Antivirus Free trails behind the competition when it comes to successfully detecting threats.

While previous versions of the program included protection against malicious URLs, this feature is missing from Adaware Antivirus Free 12. With so many free tools offering this as standard, and so many threats emerging in this form, this is a major oversight and something for potential users to give serious thought.

User experience

Everything with Adaware Antivirus Free seems slow. Updates take an age to download and install, and a full system scan takes significantly longer than with similar programs.

The program interface is a little deceptive, and there are lots of attempts to lure users to upgrade to a paid-for version of the software. For example, Network Protection and Email Protection appear as menu options, but you need to upgrade to use them; they would be better to be simply hidden.

While there is basic protection in place, working with Adware Antivirus Free ends up being a stream of disappointments whether because of performance issues, or areas in which the program is found wanting.

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