Pin Me

Review of Free Downloads: Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware

written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 3/19/2011

There are several free antivirus programs on the market, including free downloads like Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware. Read more to find out which is best.

  • slide 1 of 5

    Free Software: Antivirus and Anti-malware

    There's no need to pay for virus protection if you don't want to. Some security software vendors offer limited editions of their antivirus software that can help protect Windows computers from becoming infected by rogue software, virus, spyware, adware, trojans and other types of malicious software.

    PC Tools and Lavasoft provide not only free downloads of Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware, but also offer free real-time virus protection and virus definitions updates. Below are the details on how these security software vendors are offering their programs.

  • slide 2 of 5

    Ad-Aware by Lavasoft

    Ad-watch Live Optional Install Using Custom Installation Lavasoft's Ad-Aware Internet Security free is not a security suite package but instead includes antivirus and anti-spyware security software only. It does not include firewall protection that security suite programs offer.

    The file size of the Ad-Aware installer is 118 MB which is huge compared to PC Tools Spyware Doctor Starter edition. There's an option to customize the installation of Ad-Aware in Windows that is available only after you've accept the End-User License Agreement (EULA):

    • Change the destination folder from C:\Program Files\Lavasoft\Ad-Aware to another location of your choice.
    • Add Ad-Aware shortcuts in Desktop and Quick Launch.
    • Option to not to install the unnecessary Google Chrome browser.
    • Option to stop installing Ad-Watch Live! and its driver. Note that Ad-Watch Live is required only if you want to use the real-time protection provided by the program.

    Like the Spyware Doctor installer, the installation of Ad-Aware requires Microsoft Visual C++ runtime libraries. If this component is not found in your computer, Ad-Aware will install it for you.

    When you're done installing Ad-aware, a PC restart is required to apply the changes on the system and also, to allow Ad-Watch Live! real-time protection to load. It's unfortunate that this process is required before you can use Ad-Aware because Spyware Doctor and most antivirus program installers will load all necessary drivers without the need to restart the computer after the install process.

    Note that before the program installer will proceed to restart the computer, Ad-Aware will check for program and virus detection updates which means an Internet connection is required during the install process.

  • slide 3 of 5

    Spyware Doctor by PC Tools

    Spyware Doctor Free Download PC Tools Spyware Doctor Starter edition is a limited but effective antivirus software for Windows. Unlike Ad-Aware and many others that are available for download using download sites like CNET, Majorgeeks or, you can only get the free Spyware Doctor with antivirus program by downloading the Google Pack installer. It means you are going to install not only Spyware Doctor software but also the Google Updater program.

    An Internet connection is required before you can proceed to install Spyware Doctor Starter edition because Google Pack will act as a download manager and installer. The installer's file size of Spyware Doctor is less than 40 MB. There is no option to customize the installation of the program and there's also no need to restart the computer before you can start protecting Windows or configuring the protection offered by PC Tools. The program checks for updates and will auto-restart the program, if new component updates are installed.

  • slide 4 of 5

    Final Words

    Spyware Doctor and Ad-Aware both work differently, but it's obvious the Spyware Doctor with Antivirus Starter Edition is easier to install and use. To find out more about the malware detection ability of these programs, take a look at this top 10 free antivirus comparison.

  • slide 5 of 5


    • Image credit: Screenshot taken and information based on author's experience, courtesy of Lavasoft and PC Tools.
    • Downloaded and Installed products: Lavasoft Ad-Aware Internet Security Free v9.0.2 and PC Tools Spyware Doctor Starter Edition v8.0.0.623.