Most users will be familiar with Ad-Aware, the anti-spyware app that’s been around for over a decade. In version 10, developers Lavasoft made the jump from anti-spyware to fully-fledged antivirus. In version 11, they've improved and tweaked it to produce a security suite which they claim significantly outperforms all other free anti-virus and anti-malware products.
Slick and intuitive user interface
Ad-Aware Personal Security is based on Ad-Aware Free AntiVirus+ and looks clean and simple, taking advantage of the streamlined look of Windows 8. Installation is fast although it does try to launch a scan upon start-up. You can skip this if you like and you're presented with a clean interface that's clearly divided into separate functions along the left-hand side, namely Home, Scan Computer, RealTime Protections, Web Protection, Network Protection, App Management
3 different types of scans
Ad-Aware offers lots of scan options, making things very flexible for the user. There are 3 initial scan options, Quick, Full and Custom. The Custom option is particularly nice, allowing you to completely customize the scan with easy checkbox inclusions. You can also schedule scans, a must-have option for a modern antivirus. Scans aren’t particularly quick, but can be paused if you find they are slowing-down your system too much. LavaSoft have beefed-up the power of the anti-virus engine by introducing the award winning BitDefender to version 11 of AdAware.
Easy to manage plus Gaming Mode
The rest of Ad-Aware’s options are divided into two parts – the ones under Protection Settings (top right hand corner) and under Options. Under Protection Settings, you’ll be able to tweak the real-time protection and browsing options, although Safe Browsing can only be enabled and disabled, and not customized. Under Ad-Aware’s Main Options, there are various settings related to basic operation, updates and an explanation of Gaming Mode (although this can be quickly toggled in the main interface and from the task bar).
4 different versions available
Although Ad-Aware Personal Security is comprehensive and powerful enough for most needs, there are actually 4 other versions of Ad-Aware available offering slightly different functionality which something that users of Ad-Aware might find confusing under the settings under Advanced Protection.
They are different according to which version of Ad-Aware you are running. Ad-Aware 11 is available in four versions Ad-Aware Free, Pro Security and Personal Security and Total Security.
In effect, they are the same but more advanced features become available as you move through the versions. This will annoy some users who would prefer a fully comprehensive free version but at least Ad-Aware doesn’t nag you to upgrade.
Total Protection beyond the NSA?
It's worth noting that Lavasoft claim that Ad-Aware Total Security also includes Lavasoft Privacy Toolbox which has been built in partnership with Sweden’s renowned SafeIT Security (which Lavasoft claim can even protect you from the reaches of the NSA). For those in search of serious protection, it may be worth checking-out what Total Security can offer.
A serious competitor to the big boys
In all, we’re impressed by Ad-Aware’s addition of BitDefender to the antivirus suite, and we’re looking forward to trying it over time and seeing what future updates bring. Right now, it’s a solid app, with impressive detection rates, a slick Windows 8 modeled interface with all the basic options. It still doesn't have the brand trust of competitors such as Avast!
, and AVG
but it’s now certainly an antivirus to be reckoned with.