Long a favourite tool of computer users looking to rid their systems of annoying ad-ware and spyware, Lavasoft’s Ad-aware has returned in a new, free standard edition that offers an improved interface and more customisation options. And two new pay versions, Plus and Pro, profess to offer real-time protection, much as antivirus software does in blocking virus threats.
All three Ad-aware 6 versions speed the process of scanning your PC for hidden files by letting you choose the size of the files you scan. By excluding larger music and image files, my scans -— using a final version of Pro -— took half as long as the old version’s scans.
Another feature lets you back up adware components before you remove them, in case you accidentally cripple one you want, such as Kazaa.
Prior editions of Ad-aware always removed unwanted ad-ware and spyware only after they landed on your PC. The standard version 6 continues to perform this function well, but the new pay versions also supply more-proactive features. Plus ($US27) and Pro (US$40) have real-time monitoring for blocking pop-up ads (but it didn’t work very well); in addition, they prevent home-page switches and prohibit Web site–based Active-X programs from installing on your PC.
The Pro version also offers tools to shut down wasteful programs that run in the background, as well as a network function to scan multiple PCs.
Version 6 is a giant leap forward for Ad-aware. Standard is plenty for most users. Plus and Pro have handy features -— but don’t upgrade to them solely for the pop-up blocking.
In brief: Ad-aware 6
An excellent program; the free version will suit most users.
Price: Standard version free, Plus $US27, Pro $US40