The latest version of Spyware Doctor offers three-pronged protection for your PC against spyware, combining real-time threat blocking, system scanning and browser infection protection.

Real-time protection is provided by Spyware Doctor 5.5's OnGuard monitor which looks for issues with browser, cookies, files, keyloggers and processes among others.

Bearing in mind that the previous release, Spyware Doctor 5.0, was a ground-up re-write, what's new in Spyware Doctor 5.5?

Outwardly nothing much has changed but under the hood you'll find modest but welcome changes: Spyware Doctor 5.5's memory footprint has been shrunk, its alerts have been moderated to truly reflect the risk detected, there's better rootkit removal, faster real-time reaction times and standardised threat descriptions.

New to Spyware Doctor 5.5 is 'kernel compatibility mode', which allows Spyware Doctor to avoid conflicts with other security products. During setup, this feature is switched on automatically if Spyware Doctor detects a potential conflict, useful since many users will have more than one security package installed.

A minor niggle – online help is still provided via the PC Tools website and not locally, which is a pain. The price is unchanged from before - £29.95. And if you want the version that integrates a very respectable AV package as well, this only adds £10 to the Spyware Doctor 5.5 bill, so no complaints on the value-for-money front.

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Scanning speed was never a strong point of Spyware Doctor, accurate though it has always been. This has been improved with Spyware Doctor 5.5 and on an antique laptop it took a commendable 9 minutes to scan 108,000 items in its new 'Intelli-scan' mode, though a 'full scan' of 130,000 items on the same machine took rather longer: 41 minutes.

When it does detect a problem, Spyware Doctor doesn't over-react to inactive threats (i.e. odd file fragments of partially removed threat) and now more accurately reports the actual risk posed.

When it does detect malware, Spyware Doctor 5.5 will remove pretty much 100 percent of it: any residual debris will be of no consequence and can safely be ignored. It can take a while to clean a badly infected PC but your patience is well rewarded with a clean PC.

Spyware Doctor 5.5

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Spyware Doctor 5.5: Specs

  • Windows 2000, XP (x86) & Vista (x86). 800MHz Intel Pentium processor (or equivalent) or better, minimum 64MB (recommended 128MB or greater), 25MB of hard disk space free, Internet Explorer 5.5 or better
  • Windows 2000, XP (x86) & Vista (x86). 800MHz Intel Pentium processor (or equivalent) or better, minimum 64MB (recommended 128MB or greater), 25MB of hard disk space free, Internet Explorer 5.5 or better

OUR VERDICT

If you want something a little more capable than freeware antispyware products such as Windows Defender 1.1 or Spybot Search & Destroy, then Spyware Doctor remains the one to buy: as before it's still arguably the best antispyware utility on the market, able to deal with virtually all known spyware threats. It does a great job of cleaning a PC of spyware and then keeping it clean. Spyware Doctor 5.5 is easy to use, too.

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