In tests performed by AV-Test.org, PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 did an excellent job identifying and uprooting adware. Its results with spyware were less impressive but still pretty solid.


  • Operating system tested on: Windows Vista
  • $30 (about £15) for 1-year subscription

PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 detected 81 percent of inactive adware samples and 100 percent of active adware samples, and it successfully removed almost all of those active adware samples. When it came to other intruders, however, PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 spotted only 27 percent of our inactive banking-related spyware and 43 percent of password-stealing spyware. PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 detected all our active spyware samples except the password-stealing Trojan horse PSW.Maran, and successfully cleaned up 70 percent of those infestations.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 held up well in behaviour-based detection tests, too, detecting additions to HKCU and HKLM 'Run' Registry keys and preventing adware and spyware programs from changing Internet Explorer search and start pages. On the other hand, PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 didn't detect changes to the Hosts file, which spyware can use to redirect your PC to a malicious website.

The settings on this otherwise well-designed program could use a little tweaking. By default, PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 does not turn on anti-rootkit protection; this default is intended to speed up scanning and to minimise false positives. PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 found eight of the nine inactive rootkit samples. We didn't like its habit of flagging ad-tracking cookies as 'infections', either.

The overzealous PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 diagnosed 387 'infections' that turned out to be cookies from Google, the New York Times' website and other reputable sites. PC Tools provides free phone support around-the-clock for UK customers. For a small extra fee, PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 offers antivirus protection, although we didn't test this for this round-up.

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PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0: Specs

  • 800MHz processor
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • 64MB RAM
  • 25MB hard disk space
  • IE 5.5 or later
  • 800x600 screen resolution (16bit colour)
  • 800MHz processor
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • 64MB RAM
  • 25MB hard disk space
  • IE 5.5 or later
  • 800x600 screen resolution (16bit colour)

OUR VERDICT

Despite room for improvement in its interface and its spyware disinfection, we recommend PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.0 if you're looking for comprehensive ad- and spyware protection and don't mind paying £15 for it.

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