Ad-Aware SE Personal

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    With the ability to scan your RAM, Registry, hard drives, and external storage devices for known data-mining, advertising, and tracking components, Ad-Aware SE easily can clean your system, allowing you to maintain a higher degree of privacy while you surf the Web.

    Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition boasts a number of improvements. Extended memory scanning now scans all modules loaded by a process. Scanning uses the all- new CSI (Code Sequence Identification) technology to identify new and unknown variants of known targets. Extended Registry scanning now scans Registry branches of multiple-user accounts and performs additional smart checks to detect dynamically created references. Scanning speed is noticeably faster, and this version offers an Extended Scanning mode for known and unknown/possible browser hijackers.

    New in version 1.06: Disk-scan is approximately 30 percent faster. CSI scan is now more efficient. Added "Scan for low-risk threats" option, to scan for targets with low TAC index. Ad-Watch CSI engine performance highly improved; using less CPU and Memory as well as having a smaller footprint. GUI adapted to use the new TAC.

    CNET Networks is not responsible for the content of this Publisher's Description. We encourage you to determine whether this product or your intended use is legal. We do not encourage or condone the use of any software in violation of applicable laws.


  • CNET editors' review
    Reviewed by: Bruce Stewart
    Edited by: Robert Vamosi
    Reviewed on 2/13/06 Updated on: 2/13/06 Release date: 5/30/05

    Ad-aware SE 1.06 is the latest version of Lavasoft's popular and venerable antispyware program, and not surprisingly, it continues to meet the high standards that Ad-aware is known for. Long considered the grandfather of antispyware programs, Ad-aware keeps getting better. Of all the antispyware software tested by, Ad-aware SE finished in the top three, removing virtually everything we threw at it, and it finished number one in overall performance. Ad-aware SE is available in two versions. Ad-aware SE Personal is free and will quarantine and remove spyware on your PC. Ad-aware SE Plus sells for $29.95 and includes real-time protection, automatic updates, and advertising block--features that are disabled within the free edition. Either edition of Ad-aware should be a must-have for every PC desktop.

    This latest version of Ad-aware SE runs faster than previous versions, and it finds and deletes even more illicit programs that track your surfing and cause many of those annoying pop-up ads. With its light use of resources and thorough scans, Ad-aware also beats paid antispyware programs, such as McAfee AntiSpyware. In addition to providing a more robust scanning engine, Ad-aware now sports a sleek new interface that makes the program more attractive and extremely simple to use. Ad-aware's custom skins let you change the look and feel of the app in a variety of ways.

    Downloading and installing Ad-aware SE Personal took only a few minutes. It's best to run a full system scan the first time you use Ad-aware. After that, it's much faster to use the Smart Scan option, which checks only files that have recently changed on your hard drive. Both the free and paid versions of Ad-aware are highly configurable, with more options and choices than you'd expect. The default settings work great with most systems, though, and unless you have an unusual situation, you shouldn't have to fiddle with any settings.

    If you've been using your PC on the Internet without any spyware protection, you'll probably be amazed at how many offending programs Ad-aware finds. Unfortunately, the process of removing offending apps with Ad-aware can be confusing at times because Ad-aware doesn't provide much helpful information about the suspect spyware it marks for quarantine. For example, it doesn't identify which applications might need a suspected spyware/adware component in order to run. But don't worry, Ad-aware doesn't entirely remove the spyware, just quarantines it in a secure folder, so if for some reason you actually needed one of those adware components, you could easily reinstall it later within Ad-aware.

    In testing performed by CNET, Ad-aware SE Plus performed one of the fastest full-system scans, clocking in at mere 11 minutes, 30 seconds. It was also one of the most accurate, with Ad-aware identifying the biggest threats in our test group. Ad-aware also picked up one item that appeared to be a false positive not detected by any of the other programs in our tests. In the end, Ad-aware SE Plus left only a couple of fairly harmless spyware elements on our test machine.

    Our only gripe is with regard to Lavasoft's paltry support options--both free and paid. E-mail technical support is not available for the free version, of course, but the online support area on Lavasoft's Web site is also underwhelming to say the least. That said, the program is pretty easy to use and the integrated help system is complete and should be able to answer most questions.
  • PC Magazine
    Ad-Aware SE Personal 1.06

    By Neil J. Rubenking

    Ad-Aware SE Personal 1.06, the free version of Lavasoft's $24.95 Ad-Aware SE Plus, is a significant update. It scans faster and offers more detailed scan results and statistics, but it lacks protection against direct attacks.

    Its Code Sequence Identification feature attempts to identify new spyware variants before full definitions are available. It now scans all modules of running processes and can unload offending modules on the fly. The free version doesn't have Ad-Aware's Ad-Watch real-time protection module, though. That's not much of a loss, as it did not actually prevent any spyware installations in our testing. It frequently displayed an alarm warning of, for example, a change to the startup configuration, but did not identify these changes as related to a specific threat, and even though we chose to block all such events, the spyware installed regardless. Only Microsoft's free antispyware seemed to have any luck blocking installations.

    Ad-Aware is better at removing spyware from your computer. It detected all but one of our sample threats, and removed two-thirds of those it detected. Double-clicking a found item brings up a page of local details, including the item's Threat Assessment Chart (TAC) rating (on a scale from 1 to 10) and a link to more information on Lavasoft's Web site. Ad-Aware saves a very detailed log file of scanning and removals, but the information is so spread out that we found it difficult to interpret. More useful is the Statistics page, which lists all threats the program has found, their TAC rating, and the number of times each item was found, times it was removed, and the date it was most recently found.

    Ad-Aware has some interesting advanced capabilities but lacks some features found in most of its competitors. You can set it to perform a full or "smart" scan at start-up, but there's no other scheduling option. Also, you can't restore single items from quarantine; you have to undo the entire scan and then rescan, marking the specific item to be ignored.

    Because of its scanning and removal strength, we recommend using the free version of Ad-Aware as an additional cleanup step when your main antispyware program reports trouble.