First launched back in 1999 as a specialist antispyware tool, Ad-Aware has come a very long way in the following years - and this latest version adds more new features and functionality than ever.

The program's two engines now do an even better job of protecting you against viruses and spyware, for instance. And Ad-Aware Free now includes all the advanced real-time protection features which were previously only available in the paid edition. So malicious processes are detected and blocked before they can launch; the program monitors your Registry, alerting you when a program tries to make changes; and Ad-Aware blocks connections to known malicious websites to help keep you safe.

Ad-Aware Free tracks your downloads, too, detecting and blocking malware before it can be launched.

A new Ad-Aware Security Toolbar provides basic browsing protection (though only for IE or Firefox), scanning links and URLs in real-time to warn you of online dangers.

There are improvements in the program's performance, behavioural monitoring, sandbox and more.

And Ad-Aware Free is also easier to use than ever, thanks to a redesigned and simplified interface, and a new (to the Free edition) Game Mode which takes care of security business automatically while you're doing other things.

Put it all together and the program once again looks like a viable free antivirus contender, but if you need more power then of course Lavasoft have commercial editions available. Top of that list is Ad-Aware Pro Security, which includes all the above features and adds a two-way firewall, intrusion protection, automatic scanning of external storage devices, enhanced email protection, real-time web filtering, social networking protection and more: and it's all yours for an annual $36.

What's new in 11.9?

- New anti-spam engine
- Revised Malicious URL Whitelist management
- Increased Windows 10 compatibility
- Improved interface, resource-use, and threat neutralization
- Simplified upgrade process
- Enhanced installation procedure


Ad-Aware Free was lagging a little behind the free antivirus competition, but this release helps a lot, providing the real-time protection you need and introducing a cleaner, simpler, easier-to-use interface. If you're in the market for a free antivirus tool then it deserves a closer look.