Anti-spyware software group test

It won't be long before they discover unpatched entry points or devise new ways to infect your PC. The onus is on you to keep your system patched, protect it with a firewall and anti-virus software, be careful what you download and install, and keep an eye open for potentially malicious Web sites.

Oh, and you'll need to install a good anti-spyware program too... so let's take a closer look at the contenders.

The reviews

Ad-aware 2007 Free

AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5

Spybot S&D 1.4

Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.3

Spyware Doctor 5.0

Spyware Terminator 1.9

Trend Micro Anti-Spyware 3.5

Microsoft Windows Defender

Verdict on page 3...

The best spyware program

All things being equal, picking a group test winner is never easy, but it's even harder when there are so many quality contenders to choose from.

For this test we started with a badly infected system, and admit that we weighed every program's ability to detected and remove spyware threats more heavily than anything else.

The results were indeed close, but one program was still clearly the head of this class: PC Tools' Spyware Doctor 5.0. It was impossible to ignore how good a job Spyware Doctor 5.0 did at not only detecting and removing all existing threats, but also ensuring that even malicious shortcuts and dangerous system settings were dealt with.

Even remnants of infections buried deep in the Registry were detected and removed. Add to that the program's excellent real-time protection facilities and easy-to-use interface, and we had our winner.

Both AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5 and Spybot S&D were close to catching Spyware Doctor, but just not close enough. AVG needs to do a little more work on the final settings cleanup front, while Spybot would benefit from a redesign interface and more robust real-time protection.

Having said that, both do what they do well, and are deserving of a test drive. Windows Defender performed badly, to the point where it probably won't be included in any future test.

The new version of Ad-Aware shows great promise, but it's not where it needs to be to content-wise just yet. Trend Micro Anti-Spyware did a solid job in the test, but has some program features that need to be improved.

Spyware Terminator shows promise, but it needs to do a better job of detecting and removing threats before it'll find itself in league with the likes of Spyware Doctor, Spybot S&D and AVG Anti-Spyware.

Finally, all we can ask is what happened to Webroot SpySweeper? It's a top-notch program, and its realtime defences are at least on par with Spyware Doctor and AVG.

However, its detection and removal capabilities fared badly, and its resource usage is getting a little too high for our liking.

As for this test, nothing much has changed in terms of the best spyware package around - the Doctor is still in!

Words: Dan DiNicolo