Both tools in our spyware round-up are easy to use, but Spy Sweeper has the more elegant interface. It is clear, intuitive and more attractive than the text-heavy Grisoft ewido anti-spyware 4.0 (reviewed here). When you first run each tool you are prompted to run a full system scan to check for and delete existing spyware.

This revealed the full extent of the problem: even on a relatively new PC, with both Norton AntiVirus and SystemWorks installed, Spy Sweeper found five adware tools known as cookies. On an older PC that was similarly protected, ewido found 55 pieces of spyware.

Scanning the entire PC is a time-consuming business in the first instance. Ewido took more than an hour to check the hard drive of a test PC. Spy Sweeper was quicker and should halve the scan time on a cluttered computer. Each generated a clear report that explained in generic terms what each piece of spyware was and graded its risk to the system. Spy Sweeper was clearer in its presentation, but both programs were surprisingly easy to understand.

Sweep them out

Spy Sweeper protects against spyware in two main ways. Sweep, which you can run manually or schedule to run at regular intervals, and Shield, which allows you to set up automatic protection within all the vulnerable areas on your PC. Each option is configurable and editing settings is simple. Any spyware found can be quarantined, but you have full control over whether a cookie is put in quarantine. You can easily restore any quarantined files if necessary.

Spy Sweeper updates via the internet. It's therefore able to deal with all of the latest spyware threats, including keyloggers such as PC-Controller and Perfect Keylogger. Rootkit detection has been improved, which helps to stop hackers from gaining access to your computer via an unauthorised or backdoor entry.

Another useful feature is the slider bar that appears in the Options window – this allows you to determine how much CPU usage can be used for sweeps. We found that while the maximum processing power was allocated to the sweeps, they slowed down our PC – but if you want to carry on working during a sweep, you can free up system resources.

Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.0: Specs

  • 300MHz processor
  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP Home/XP Media Center
  • 256MB RAM
  • 15MB hard disk space
  • 300MHz processor
  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP Home/XP Media Center
  • 256MB RAM
  • 15MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Spy Sweeper is an effective product, and simpler to configure than Grisoft's rival offering. Its quarantine policy means you won't delete files you need, and overall we feel this is well worth a Gold award.

Find the best price