Ad-Aware Total Security (£34), the newest addition to the Lavasoft line of security software, is an all-in-one suite that builds on the longtime anti-spyware favourite Ad-Aware.

Ad-Aware Total Security adds anti-virus, rootkit detection, a personal firewall, spam protection, parental control software and more. In essence it's the same software as Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free or the £21  Ad-Aware Internet Security Pro, with extra capabilities bolted on.

Like the other software in the line, Ad-Aware Total Security includes heuristics detection, and so examines complex system behaviour, rather than just looking for known malware signatures. In this way, it can protect against emerging and unknown threats, not just threats that are already known and found via the use of signatures.

New in this version of Ad-Aware Total Security is the Genotype heuristics detection system, which Lavasoft claims is superior to its previous heuristics. Our colleagues at the PCWorld Labs have not yet tested this product's antivirus feature, and thus cannot offer an opinion about this feature's usefulness.

As with all Ad-Aware products, the interface for Ad-Aware Total Security is simple and straightforward. The main screen displays basic information about the state of your security, including when you last performed a virus check and when you last updated the program and antivirus signatures. There's also a tabbed section for delving deeper into the program, including for email and antispam protection as well as enabling parental controls, which are disabled by default.

Note that the first time you run a scan with Ad-Aware Total Security, and the program updates its signatures and similar information, it can take a very long time. It took more than an hour on my system. Subsequent runs took 15 to 30 minutes.

If you're the kind of person who likes to tinker, you'll be pleased with the many customisations available to you. For example, you can have the virus-scanner pause during times of high system load. Also useful is a CPU load indicator, which displays how much of your system's CPU is being used over time, as well as how much of the CPU Ad-Aware Total Security takes up.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

See also: Group test: 13 internet security suites compared


Ad-Aware Total Security: Specs

  • P733 MHz or better processor
  • Minimum 512MB RAM
  • 1.5GB free space recommended
  • Windows XP (with SP 2 or greater), Vista, 7 (32/64bit)
  • P733 MHz or better processor
  • Minimum 512MB RAM
  • 1.5GB free space recommended
  • Windows XP (with SP 2 or greater), Vista, 7 (32/64bit)

OUR VERDICT

Is it worth paying £34 for Ad-Aware Total Security, when the latest Pro version runs only £21? Ad-Aware Total Security includes a number of features missing in the Pro version, such as an email scanner, anti-spam, data recovery, scanning of instant message, a personal firewall, parental controls, and a file shredder. Those are useful, but not necessarily essential, so it may not be worth the extra £13 to you. But if you're looking for an all-in-one security suite, Ad-Aware Total Security is worth a try.

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