Not everything that gets on to your PC without your permission is bad, but there are sufficient threats to your system out there to make it imperative to protect yourself from those that do harm.

Spyware Doctor is a dedicated tool that can do precisely this. It begins scanning your PC's contents as soon as you complete the installation and provides precise details of each of the items it determines are potential threats. SD scanned our 120GB test machine in less than 10 minutes and identified 34 problems.

Unlike some spyware and antivirus programs that simply warn you of the number of nasties lurking on or attempting to access your system, Spyware Doctor actually tells you what the threats are, one by one.

In addition, it explains the level of threat they pose and, on the right of the pane listing them, explains why cookies from known dodgy websites put you at risk. Threats are separated into low, medium, elevated and high levels, categorised by type such as advertising and tracking cookies.

It outlines why these are a risk and provides a history of how they've been known to exploit vulnerabilities. This way you know which threats you should immunise your system against.

The main Spyware Doctor window offers to scan or immunise your computer, and to switch on or off the OnGuard Protection utility. By clicking on the Tools menu you can select which particular types of threat you want the program to alert you to and to protect you against. These include keystroke loggers, adware, phishing tools and Trojans, plus items that make changes to your PC's Registry.

A Smart Update setting ensures you stay up-to-date with alerts. You can schedule the program to run automatically. A handy tool will undo changes you've asked Spyware Doctor to make, such as removing items you then find you need.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor 3.5: Specs

  • Pentium processor or better
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 64MB of RAM
  • Internet Explorer 5.5 (IE6 required to view a formatted display of Spyware Doctor logs)
  • 14MB hard disk space
  • Pentium processor or better
  • Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
  • 64MB of RAM
  • Internet Explorer 5.5 (IE6 required to view a formatted display of Spyware Doctor logs)
  • 14MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Spyware Doctor impressed us greatly with its detailed reporting tools and the ability to specify exactly what you want it to be on guard for and what doesn't concern you. It's well priced and it's refreshing to find a program that takes the time to explain each risk, helping you make an informed decision about whether to erase it.

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