Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5

Webroot sees the merits of a preventitive approach

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Our Verdict

Does feel a bit rough and ready, but works effectively and has some nice touches


  • Excellent malware-prevention credentials

    Fast scanning

    Several useful extra features


  • Unpolished interface

    Occasional restarting glitches

Webroot added Sophos anti-virus to its package in version 5.2 and now the version 5.5 update includes email scanning. You may well think that such a feature should have been included from the start but in some respects this seems to show Webroot's thinking about computer security.

Spy Sweeper has always lived up to its name as a superb tool for hunting down malware but now it seems to be serious about preventing nasties from reaching your laptop in the first place.

It's none too clear which version of Sophos anti-virus has been included in the package but the Sweep name dates back some years and the look and feel of the interface is nowhere near as slick as the current and rather expensive software that Sophos sells to corporate customers.

Webroot's offering doesn't appear as sophisticated as the software supplied by the likes of Norton. However, it does a decent job and zips through a full scan in half an hour, although that obviously varies depending on the size of your laptop's hard drive. It is let down at odd times by, for instance, refusing to restart cleanly, but on the whole, it works well.

This particular version of SSAV includes a free copy of ChildSafe 4.2 parental controls as part of a discounted bundle from PC World for the same price as SSAV 5.5 and is confidently predicted to be Webroot's leading UK product in 2007.

ChildSafe creates password protected profiles that restrict the length of time a child can use the internet, allows you to restrict access to undesirable websites and adds the ability to create whitelists of software that can run on the laptop.

This is very laudable and there are neat features that allow you to over-ride the restrictions but it might be quicker and easier to keep your laptop in a public area, such as the living room, to avoid problems in the first place.