Spybot-Search & Destroy 1.4 review

Along with Ad-Aware, Spybot is the old man of the anti-spyware industry, as shown by OS support stretching all the way back to Windows 95. We rather like the fact it can be run from a Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE) boot CD (good for Registry cleansing of broken Windows installations), while the support for history cleansing in Netscape and Opera as well as Internet Explorer is another plus.

Spybot-Search & Destroy 1.4 review

However, from here on in our enthusiasm declines rapidly. It may be the second fastest to complete a full scan, but accuracy suffered as a result: detection (56 per cent) and removal (52 per cent) were both below par, and blocking of spyware installation (36 per cent) ineffective.

With the exception of Spy Cleaner, Spybot has as unfriendly an interface as you could wish for. It looked neat and simple until we performed our initial scan, and then it went pear-shaped, or rather alert-shaped. Repeated warnings from the real-time protection are difficult to dismiss, and discovered threats are poorly described.

Advanced mode opens up scan scheduling, scan exclusions settings and even command-line parameters. But with so many tweakable settings, all but the most savvy user is in danger of doing more harm than good.

It’s hard to whinge about support issues for free software, but the lack of any in here is sorely missed. Spybot is on a par with Ad-Aware, but both are outclassed by Microsoft when it comes to free spyware protection.

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