PC Tools Spyware Doctor 3.8 review

£20
Price when reviewed

This new version of the A-Listed anti-spyware application isn’t just a minor update – it sees the introduction of the patent-pending Spider Scanning Technology, which has been implemented into the core scanning engine.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor 3.8 review

Although PC Tools isn’t revealing exactly how this works, our testing proves it does: quite simply more threats are detected in less time. We couldn’t match the claimed 25% reduction in scanning time, but across our tests we averaged a 20% improvement when compared to version 3.2. Already the quickest spyware scanner we’d tested, the total scan time dropped from 4mins 24secs to just 3mins 35secs. When you consider that the competition struggle to break five minutes in our Labs, it’s impressive stuff. However, speed isn’t as important as accuracy when it comes to malware detection, and thankfully this doesn’t disappoint either.

The introduction of rootkit scanning combined with the existing Kernel Delete and hidden process detection technologies covers most bases on the detection front. But that isn’t good enough either, which is why PC Tools has introduced its new Kernel Level Process Killer technology to deal with malicious processes that operate at the Windows kernel level and are hard to detect.

Finally, an Alternate Data Streams (ADS) detection capability brings Spyware Doctor up to par with its main rival, Webroot SpySweeper. This enables it to find those threats that conceal themselves in attachments or masquerade as harmless document files.

So how does all this add up when it comes to real-world testing? The short answer is superbly. We ran Spyware Doctor on a PC infected with a broad range of malware, new and old. We then measured its success based upon what was detected from our line-up (98% up from 84%), what was removed (92% up from 88%) and then blocked when we tried to reinstall (78% up from 66%). This gives us an overall accuracy rating for this latest version of 89%, a new record.

Subtle tweaks to the user interface are as welcome as the performance hike, in particular the new system status area that provides an overview of the whole app and alerts as to any parts that require updating. It isn’t worth waiting for the next full point release to arrive at year-end – this is quite simply the best option we’ve yet seen for keeping your system free of spyware.

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