written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/4/2011
This article compares 2 of the most widely used antispyware scanner with real-time protection: Ad-Aware and Spybot-S&D.
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Ad-Aware Anniversary Edition was released during the 10th year anniversary of Lavasoft. The product has been re-designed and the database update is now frequent than it used to be. Spybot – Search & Destroy is the same anti-spyware program that we have seen for years and the maker, Safer Networking continues to provide not only detection but fixes on the program.
Both Lavasoft and Safer Networking continue to provide the free edition of both anti-spyware programs with free real-time protection that not many anti-spyware or anti-malware is offering.
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Installer – Winner: Spybot-S&D
Ad-Aware (AAW) set-up file is 58.04MB while Spybot-S&D is only 15.6MB. Lavasoft has released a new installer of Ad-Aware this month which is to my surprised, v8.0.7 is now bundled with third party application – Google Chrome. While the bundled application on its installer will not harm your computer, it is odd decision by Lavasoft. In my opinion, a security scanner should be offered with clean installer with straight forward installation wizard instead of adding extra task to end-users who wants to remove spyware or any type of malware instead of having to spend time whether the installer should install third-party program or not.
Note that the installer will offer third party program in any available installation method of AAW: Customized or Basic installation. A system restart is required to complete the installation of AAW. On this test, I restarted the system to allow the program to complete the installation but it keeps prompting me to restart again. No matter how many times I restarted the system, it continues to show the icon and alert that the system must be restarted. Checking the support forum revealed that other people has seen this incident and here.
Spybot-S&D’s (SS&D) installer is simply neat. It will not confuse people because the installer is straight-forward and clean. There’s no third party application on its installer and it does not require a reboot after installation. SS&D’s installer allows you to customize the installation, for example: choose if you want to integrate the program to Windows Security Center, update the program immediately after installation and many others. This method in installing the program is simply great because you don’t have to install components that you do not want to use – thus reducing the hard-disk space to be use by the program.
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Features – Winner: Spybot-S&D
SS&D can be use using two methods: Basic or Advanced modes. Basic mode offers basic features (Immunize the system against spyware, option to scan and to recover by undoing the changes made by SS&D in the system) while Advanced mode has more to offer: Choose what threats to scan and remove by SS&D, configure the program the way you want, use many other tools that is included in the program such as startup and add/remove manager, tweaking IE, secure shredder etc. SS&D is offering a free real-time protection using its TeaTimer and Browser Helper Object that is integrated in Internet Explorer.
AAW on the other hand is offering limited edition of their paid program but the features are useful and enough to detect and remove what it is capable to. AAW is offering free real-time protection against spyware and malicious processes via its Ad-Watch Live! The paid edition will offer more protection in real-time by protecting the system against malware that will modify the registry and malware domains that your network will make a connection. AAW free edition does not allow you to use the tools (Hosts file manager, Process Watch and Autostart Manager) because it is only available to paid customers.
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Performance – Winner: Ad-Aware
In Windows Vista, SS&D’s failed to install itself with admin permission because it have to notify people that before immunizing the system, the product should be started with admin permission by running it as “run as administrator" or configure SS&D to always run as administrator. Running SS&D without admin permission will fail to completely immunize the system and it can fail too removing spyware because the program is not, by default installed with admin permission.
Ad-Aware has no problem in running whether your system is Vista or XP. However, it is using more virtual memory than SS&D. This does not affect the performance of the program when running on a system that has 1GB or more of RAM.