Tenebril SpyCatcher 3.5 review

£21
Price when reviewed

The effectiveness of spyware-scanning software can be measured by a combination of depth, accuracy and speed. We use the three established market leaders as comparison: Lavasoft Ad-Aware, SpyBot S&D and our currently A-Listed Webroot Spy Sweeper. Unfortunately, SpyCatcher fell significantly behind on both depth and speed. Despite scanning only 82,120 items on our testbed machine (against extremes of 98,291 and 151,716 from the other applications), this took a laborious 11 minutes, 16 seconds (compared to two minutes, 46 seconds and five minutes, 18 seconds).

In terms of accuracy, though, there’s no denying the effectiveness of SpyCatcher, as it managed to spot all the pre-installed spyware on our testbed. It automatically updates itself during the initial online activation process too, ensuring you get up-to-date protection, and then downloads new definition files as they become available. SpyCatcher also provides one-click access to the Tenebril online spyware database if in doubt, and items can be tagged as ‘allowed spyware’ to prevent future redetection. This is just as well, as it identified a harmless printer-sharing utility and some file-updating executables as spyware. Luckily, if you do disable a file by mistake, a copy is created of everything SpyCatcher removes.

We also like the Reinstall Shield, which negates the problem of spyware embedding instructions at the start of the Windows boot sequence to reinstall files you thought had been deleted. It disables rogue executables and locks them down in a satellite file that’s run at the start of the boot sequence. This also enabled certain adware-supported applications to run by fooling them into thinking the ad-server component was still there.

A clever anti-phishing feature doesn’t use a blacklist approach, but compares the phisher site with the real site in real-time. But what impressed us most was the depth of user control over every aspect of the program. Comprehensive scheduling options and system logging, which includes an option to email plain text, HTML or XML format reports to specified users, are the icing on the cake. However, its slower scanning speed, high false-positive rate, and slightly expensive price prevent it toppling Webroot Spy Sweeper from the A List.

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