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Spy Sweeper 5.5 - At the Head of the Class

written by: Tony Bradley•edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 11/26/2007

With Spy Sweeper 5.5 Webroot continues to set the bar for anti-spyware applications. Spy Sweeper 5.5 is fast and effective in providing the protection that users need against spyware, adware, and other stealthy, malicious software.

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    Spyware used to be nothing more than small utilities installed to monitor and report on your computer usage and web surfing habits. The main thing that made it "malicious" was the fact that it was installed without the knowledge or permission of the users. Comparatively speaking, those were the good old days.

    Now, spyware is a much more encompassing term that applies to a wide variety of malware, much of which can be particularly damaging or malicious. Spyware, by many estimates, has surpassed the traditional virus and worm malware to be the the biggest threat to computer security. Users need a tool to protect themselves.

    Webroot is one of the pioneers in the anti-spyware field, and it continues to lead the way and set the bar. Spy Sweeper 5.5 has a respectable set of features and exceptional performance which make it the product to beat when it comes to protecting your PC against spyware and other malicious threats.
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    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    Spy Sweeper 5.5 nicely balances power and simplicity. The default, out-of-the-box configuration provides exceptional protection and may be exactly what the majority of users need. However, Spy Sweeper 5.5 is also highly configurable, allowing power users the ability to customize to meet their needs.

    Spy Sweeper 5.5 works quickly and silently. It does its job exceptionally well, catching almost 100% of both known and unknown spyware threats. Equally important, it operates without presenting cryptic pop-up alerts every few seconds. In addition, it does all this without bogging down system resources.

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    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    The installation of Spy Sweeper 5.5 is exceptionally quick. Many products check for updates once they are installed, but with VersionGuard, Webroot offers you the opportunity to check for and download updates before the installation.
    [See Version Guard Screenshot]

    Spy Sweeper 5.5 requires a reboot to complete installation and initiate the shields to begin protecting your system.
    [See Restart Screenshot]

    What's Not: 
    By default, installing Spy Sweeper 5.5 includes the installation of an toolbar within your web browser. If you do the Custom Installation, you can opt out of it. In general, I am not a fan of 3rd-party products that I don't need and didn't ask for installing by default.
    [See AskToolbar Screenshot]
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    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    Although the main screen for Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 isn't without complication, it does provide an admirable mix of simplicity and detail. Users can view how well Spy Sweeper 5.5 is protecting them. Navigating to the various options and configuration settings is relatively intuitive.
    [See MainConsole Screenshot]

    Buttons in the left pane allow users to quickly navigate through the four main program areas; Sweep, Shields, Quarantine, and Options. The Home button takes you back to the main console screen.

    The main console quickly allows you to see the status of your Shields, how current your software updates are, when your product expiration date is, and when your next scheduled scan will occur. It also provides a button to easily initiate a full system scan. If you are lacking antivirus protection, you can click on the link provided and purchase the AV upgrade from Webroot.
    [See AV Upgrade Screenshot]

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    Product Features

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    Webroot's Spy Sweeper 5.5 provides the most comprehensive feature set in its class. Spy Sweeper 5.5 includes 15 unique shields to protect against a variety of threats including tracking cookies, keystroke loggers, and browser hijacking.

    Spy Sweeper 5.5 can be run on any desktop version of Microsoft Windows except for Windows 95. The Shields actively monitor activity and block malicious code proactively, plus Spy Sweeper 5.5 can run full system scans on an automatic schedule customized by the user.

    Another exceptional feature of Spy Sweeper 5.5 is that it allows multiple users on a PC to have their own unique configurations. It can also be customized to exclude specified files or folders from scanning.

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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    At only $24.95, Spy Sweeper 5.5 isn't the cheapest in its category, but neither is it the most expensive. Spy Sweeper 5.5 is, however, the best product in its category, making the $25 investment a wise one.

    If you have already spent $50 or more on an all-in-one security suite, you may not need the superior protection enough to spend an additional $25. Although there is some logic to using multiple spyware and malware scanners in that hopefully one catches what the other might miss. If you don't mind spending the additional $25, Spy Sweeper 5.5 is an exceptional product.

    If you don't already have antivirus software on your system, you can look into adding the antivirus and firewall components available from Webroot to augment the antispyware capabilities of Spy Sweeper 5.5.

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    Enter keycode to begin installationVersionGuard downloads latest updates before beginning installationSpy Sweeper also installs an toolbar, but you can opt outRestart your PC at the end of installation to begin using softwareMain console for Spy Sweeper user interfaceWebroot also offers an upgrade to include antivirus protectionConduct a full sweep of your PC to locate spywareShield Status shows you at a glance what protection features are enabledIdentified threats can be moved to Quarantine, where they can be deletedYou can schedule periodic sweeps to run automaticallySpy Sweeper can be configured to automatically check for product updatesIf you encounter unknown potential threats, you can report them to Webroot
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    Suggested Features

    Webroot helped establish this genre of software and it continues to lead the pack and set the bar. The only feature available in competing products that Spy Sweeper is lacking is the ability to communicate with support technicians via online chat. So, that may be something you see in the future from Webroot.
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    I highly recommend Spy Sweeper 5.5, with one caveat. I am still a fan of security suites as opposed to installing a different product for each type of threat. However, Spy Sweeper is the best of the best when it comes to anti-spyware protection and Webroot does offer bundled security products as well if you choose to go that route. Regardless, Spy Sweeper 5.5 is a quality product that is well worth the investment.
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    Related Products

    CounterSpy, Windows Defender, Pest Patrol, Trend Micro Anti-Spyware