The Best AntiSpyware Scanners

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What is Spyware

Spyware can be defined as any software that attempts to collect data of some specific type from your computer and sends it to the creators of the spyware. This illegal data collection and data transmission occurs without your consent and very often, without your knowledge.

Spyware can enter your computer from virtually anywhere when you are connected to the internet. The most common source are the downloads. There are several websites that offer free downloads of games, screensavers, wallpapers, music, videos, computer tuning software, and much more. When you download any of these, there are some chances that you are also downloading a spyware attached to the item being downloaded.

Though most websites take care that downloads from their links are free of any malicious software attachments, there are methods through which spyware can be placed in your computer through these downloads. As soon as the spyware enters your system, it starts collecting and sending your private data to the programmer of the spyware until some antispyware detects and destroys the spyware. You can get detailed information on spyware at the Microsoft Knowledgebase.

Why You Need AntiSpyware Software

It is essential to have a powerful antispyware software installed on your computer. It should be able to detect and destroy spyware as soon as the latter attempts to enter your computer. This ensures that none of your personal information is passed to the person who created the spyware. There are many spyware software available in the market. Spyware software is included when you buy a complete security suite such as the ones from Norton, McAfee, and Kaspersky, to name a few. You can also get standalone spyware software if you want.

Using Free AntiSpyware Software

Broadly classified, the antispyware software available in the market are classified as: paid software, “free to try” software, and free antispyware software. Paid software are the ones for which you have to pay upfront before you can install it on your computer. The “free to try” spyware software offers you a free download. You can use the antispyware for a definite period called trial period. After the trial period, if you wish to continue using the spyware software, you have to pay some fee. You can download free antispyware, install it, and use it as long as you want - without paying anything.

There may be plenty of reasons why you would want to install a free yet best antispyware. One of the common reasons is that you already spent a lot on acquiring your computer and do not wish or cannot afford to spend more on the paid spyware software. Another common reason why people opt for the free spyware software is that they possess a low resource computer. Hence, they need an antispyware that consumes minimal computer resources so that the computer speed is not affected.

Some people shun free software thinking that they are not useful. However, there are many satisfied people who are using free spyware software that act effectively to prevent their private data from being stolen. Some of such free antispyware also offer other services such as PC tuning etc. Let us look at some of the best free software available on the internet.

Microsoft Antispyware Products

1) Free Antispyware from Microsoft - Windows Defender: One of the best free spyware software is the Microsoft Defender. The software is embedded in Windows Vista so you need not download it separately. For operating systems released after Windows 2000, you can download the Microsoft Defender without paying anything extra. Before you can install the spyware software, you will have to go through a validation process to prove that your Windows installation is a genuine one. In addition to offering protection against spyware, the Windows Defender also offers real time protection against adware, unwanted cookies, and other malware.

Please note that the Windows Defender cannot be installed using Windows updates. You will have to install it separately. If you have any antivirus or firewall running, you need to turn it off while you install the product. Before you install the Windows Defender, you will have to upgrade your Windows Installer to version 3.1 or above. In addition, you should be running Internet Explorer 6 or above to install the program.

2) Free Online Scan from Windows OneCare: Microsoft offers a free online scan (OneCare Safety Scanner) for your computer. You can select the Full Scan or Protection Scan. The Full scan removes virus, spyware and other malware from your system. It also performs a disk cleanup as well as a registry check. If you want to check out only for spyware, virus, and other malware, you can opt for Protection Scan.

2.1) Problems with the Free Online Scan: Before you can run the free spyware scan, Microsoft will download some files to your computer. This download also takes almost 20 minutes on a 256Kbps connection. The time taken to scan the entire computer depends on the configuration of the computer. In all, it is a very lengthy process, useful only if you have any doubts about your antispyware. It is not recommended that you use this service on speeds less than 256 Kbps as it may cause the computer to stop responding.

If you do not intend to run the free spyware scan in future, you can remove the online scan files from Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. Please note that the free OneCare Safety Scanner is available only for Genuine Windows.

FREE Spyware Software for Microsoft Windows

Most of the computers across the world employ Microsoft Windows as the operating system. Naturally, programmers are more inclined towards building spyware software that run on Windows, with backward compatibility up to Windows 98. Some of the most popular and best free antispyware are also considering Windows 7 by providing support to the operating system. Let us check out some of the best free antispyware in the following sections.

Spybot – Search and Destroy

Spybot is one of the antispyware recommended by Microsoft for its operating systems. Spybot does not occupy many resources on your computer. However, this is not the reason for its popularity. It is the effectiveness of the free antispyware to detect the maximum types of spyware that made Microsoft to recommend it for use with its operating systems. It keeps its spyware database updated and removes any spyware as soon as it enters your system.

In addition to real time protection, Spybot also offers an HDD scanning option. Once you download the Spybot, you can be sure that your system is protected from any kind of malware. The only problem with Spybot is that it presents an alert for suspicious software. For people new to computers, it becomes confusing whether or not to allow a program. However, they can get around the problem by performing a Google search on the program mentioned in the alert before they take any decision.

The Comodo Internet Security Suite

Comodo has a good reputation among different security suites on the internet. The complete suite comes in two versions. First is the Comodo Security Suite PRO that is free to try for 30 days. The other one is referred as Free Comodo Internet Security. It offers all the features of a complete security suite without any kind of fee. The only significant difference between the two versions of the security suites is that the Comodo Security Pro offers online product support.

If you do not wish to install the antivirus from Comodo, you can still install its powerful firewall. You can download the Comodo firewall, which has been tested intensively for leak tests to offer you the best security software. The standalone firewall also gives you the option of installing the Comodo antivirus while installing the firewall.

The advantage of downloading the Free Comodo Internet Suite is that you can control antivirus, firewall, and a range of other features from a single interface. Working towards computer and internet security, Comodo has a range of free and effective security features that you may find useful. You can have a look at the free products at


SpywareBlaster can be configured to protect your Internet Browsers. Once the antispyware is installed, it updates its database and configures itself for the Internet Browsers on your computer. Unlike other spyware software, SpywareBlaster does not scan and remove malware. Instead, it configures the system registry to prevent the installation of malware such as spyware and adware. In short, it is a kind of prevention rather than a cure. To know more about the technology behind SpywareBlaster, click here.

The best thing about SpywareBlaster is that it can also be used with other antispyware or any computer security software. You can download the SpywareBlaster for Internet Explorer, and Firefox Browsers. It is still undergoing changes to offer protection for browsers such as Opera and Chrome.

ESMI A-Squared

ESMI a-squared is completely free for home users. Not only can the spyware software scan and remove spyware, it also scans your computer for a range of virus and malware. You can download A-squared and install it without any hassles. Removal of the antispyware is as easy too.

It keeps itself updated for new spyware, malware, and virus too. It offers scheduled scans too that run in the background while you continue with your work. Please note that ESMI A-Squared is not a complete security suite - the free version does not offer real-time protection and so it should simply be used to supplement your other protection.

Locating Best Free Antispyware

In the article, we covered some of the most popular and best free antispyware software. The list is not comprehensive. There are several good yet free spyware software available such as the SpywareTerminator, BoClean, and Malwarebytes, among others. But be careful when choosing a product as there are numerous rogue - or fake - applications on the market (to find out more about this, see Donna Buenaventura’s article Beware of Rogue Programs: Fake Malware Scanners and Registry Cleaners. To determine the one best for you, read the many reviews spread across the internet and here at Bright Hub.

This post is part of the series: Top Computer Safety Software and Software for Enhancing Computer Performance

This series aims to review top computer safety and software for enhancing computer performance. It covers top 10 firewall, offers you a list of top computer backup programs while discussing top remote backup services. It also reviews software for enhancing computer performance.

  1. Top Ten Firewalls 2010 - Comparison of Firewalls
  2. Guide to Backing up Your PC - Top Computer Backup Programs
  3. Remote Backup Services - Top Managed Service Offerings
  4. Best Free AntiSpyware Software for Windows
  5. ParetoLogic Privacy Controls: Maintains your Computing Privacy, But…