First launched back in 1999, Ad-aware was one of the earlier specialist antispyware tools, and the program quickly became a worldwide favourite. Eleven years on, and there's considerably more competition in the PC security market, but Ad-Aware has grown considerably too: if you've not used the program for a while (or perhaps ever), then it's definitely worth taking for a spin.
Ad-Aware Pro is no longer just about blocking spyware, for instance. It now includes the powerful Avira antivirus engine, and a complete rootkit detection and removal system, for maximum protection against the widest possible range of threats.
Being able to remove viruses is good, but of course it's much better to avoid infection in the first place, and Ad-Aware Pro now employs many additional technologies to help keep your PC malware-free.
The program will automatically block connections to blacklisted IP addresses, for instance (something you won't get with Ad-Aware Plus). The new Download Guard for Internet Explorer watches the files you're accessing, and alerts you to potential threats during the download process. Real-time monitoring blocks known malware before you can run it; Genotype examines threat signatures to more accurately detect new variants of the same core malware; and a heuristics module looks for programs that are behaving suspiciously, helping the program detect even brand new and unknown threats.
Of course no real-time protection comes with a 100% guarantee, so you're also able to run manual scans on everything from individual files and folders, to full drives, network drives (another Ad-Aware Pro-specific feature), your choice of PC areas (just executable files and the Registry, say), or your entire system. And a powerful scheduler will set up scans to run automatically at the day and time you specify.
There's plenty on offer, then, but a revamped interface ensures it's all very easily managed. If you prefer the hands-off approach then you can run the program in Simple Mode, where it uses recommended settings and you've really nothing to do. If you like to have fine control over what's happening, switch to Advanced Mode and you'll get full access to every option. And opting for the Pro version of Ad-Aware also gets you command-line support, providing the ability to manage the program through scripts without having to work through the interface.