An old favourite utility for zapping spyware and adware, Lavasoft's Ad-Aware has just been updated. Ad-Aware now has better detection of adware and malware, a scanning engine that goes easy on your PC's system resources and a snazzy new interface. The updates apply to all three versions of Ad-Aware, which now go by the names Ad-Aware 2007 Free, Plus, and Pro.

None of the new versions of Ad-Aware 2007 currently support the Microsoft Vista operating system. Vista-compatible versions of Ad-Aware 2007 are slated for August, Lavasoft says.

Ad-Aware 2007 Free

Of all the updates to the Ad-Aware 2007 family, the Free version has received the least in terms of new bells and whistles. Nevertheless, Lavasoft gives users good reason to make the jump from its predecessor, Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition.

In our evaluation of Ad-Aware 2007 Free, we found that the program lived up to its promise of cutting scan time on our PC. For us, this time went down from 7 minutes to 4 minutes. Harder to test was the program's new ability to seek and delete rootkits and other threats that burrow deep into your PC. For that, we take Lavasoft's word when it says earlier versions of Ad-Aware weren't equipped to handle today's threats.

A TrackSweep privacy tool has been added to Ad-Aware 2007 Free and it allows you to remove all traces of your internet browsing from your system. This feature supports the Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera browsers.

Also new, and hard to miss, is Ad-Aware 2007's interface, which is available in all three versions; it adds up to more than just cosmetic changes. Finding tools and tweaking configuration have been made much easier in Ad-Aware 2007 Free, as the navigation menu now brings the most commonly used features within easy reach.

All versions of Ad-Aware have also received an improved handling of definition updates, which now happens as needed - and more often. Older versions of Ad-Aware relied on periodic program updates, and the accumulated changes took longer to download to your PC.

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Premium versions deliver more


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Premium versions deliver more

A big advantage of Ad-Aware Plus, which costs £15, is the real-time protection of your system that nips in the bud adware, spyware and malware problems before they become serious. Alhough real-time protection isn't new for the Plus and Pro versions, this feature may still convince you to upgrade.

Ad-Aware 2007 Plus also includes:

  • Ad-Watch RegShield - provides improved protection against attempted Registry changes (the Registry is a favourite target for many forms of malware).
  • Hosts File Editor - blocks advertisement sites, prevents browser hijack attempts, and offers limited parental controls.
  • The Scheduler - allows you to set automatic scans and updates.

What's different in the Pro version?

The £22 Pro version offers further protection, adding tools to identify keyloggers and to stop identity theft attempts, as well as a network function to scan multiple PCs.

Note: Existing users of Ad-Aware Plus and Pro will be able to upgrade to the new versions for free.

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Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2007: Specs

  • Pentium 600MHz or faster
  • 50MB RAM (100MB recommended)
  • 50MB free hard disk space
  • Windows 2000, Server 2003, XP
  • Internet Explorer (version 5.5 or higher), Firefox (version 1.5 or higher), Opera (version 9.0 or higher)
  • Pentium 600MHz or faster
  • 50MB RAM (100MB recommended)
  • 50MB free hard disk space
  • Windows 2000, Server 2003, XP
  • Internet Explorer (version 5.5 or higher), Firefox (version 1.5 or higher), Opera (version 9.0 or higher)

OUR VERDICT

In our limited testing, Ad-Aware 2007 Free is a solid post-infection tool. If you don't want to dredge up the money to purchase real-time protection with Ad-Aware Plus or Pro, we recommend this free version as a utility that savvy users shouldn't be without. However, as threats become more sophisticated, the real-time protection available with the Plus and Pro versions should be a strong consideration.

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