Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, Ad-Aware has been around since almost before adware itself. Its remit has widened somewhat over the years, and while the original Ad-Aware was designed simply to warn you when websites were tracking information on your PC, Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro stretches to such demanding tasks as protecting your system from viruses and spyware, and securing your banking details and files.

Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro actually comes in four flavours (the most advanced Enterprise version is aimed at medium to large businesses). Home users can get a taste of what Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro offers simply by downloading the free version, capable of performing a basic scan on your PC.

If you have an existing antivirus program to team this with, the free version could prove a decent option. You still don't get real-time detection of adware, although such a feature is, happily, available as Ad-Watch in the £15 upgrade, Ad-Aware Plus. This more expensive version also adds (amongst other features) integrated antivirus protection and free technical support.

The Plus version of Ad-aware 2008 will suffice for most users, although Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro (£21.50), which we've tested for the purposes of this review, comes with a few more advanced tools. These include the rather unexciting command line support and network drive scanning, and the far more dynamic Ad-Watch Connect, which lets you see exactly what programs on your PC (Internet Explorer, Real Player etc.) are communicating with the outside world.

Used in conjunction with the general Processes monitor, these could prove a convenient way of checking that there are no uninvited guests sending information from your PC, As such, this feature is well worth the extra cost of the Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro version.

Lavasoft Ad-Aware Pro 2008

Long-standing concerns about the lack of clarity in Ad-Aware's interface were fixed in the 2007 edition, with the result that the look and feel of the software was radically overhauled.

NEXT PAGE: the interface, RegShield and scanning

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Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro stretches to such demanding tasks as protecting your system from viruses and spyware, and securing your banking details and files.

Having so recently nipped and tucked the interface, Lavasoft clearly felt no major changes were needed for the latest edition, and those upgrading from 2007 to Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 may be surprised at just how similar the two versions look. This is no criticism though, and the layout works remarkably well.

The Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 interface is clean and straightforward, with most of the detailed options stashed away behind menus. Should you want to closely monitor specific areas, or use TrackSweep to clean the tracks left behind as you cruise the internet, it's easy to access some of the more advanced features.

One annoying aspect of the Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 interface is RegShield. This notifies you whenever changes are made to the registry, cookies etc. Unfortunately, it isn't terribly discreet, hitting you with irritating pop-ups simply for opening a harmless web page. It takes time to get the program used to your habits, so you can expect your initial experience with RegShield to be an aggravating one.

We had to run Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro twice in order to get it to work on our test PC, and it needed over 26 minutes to assess our machine with a Full Scan. Once done, the program then lists the different threats on your machine, according each one a Threat Analysis Index (or, to you and me, a score out of 10) to tell you whether or not you should be worried. It then offered to remove some or all of the threats and, one reboot later, the PC came back with a clean bill of health. Ad-Aware licenses its antivirus protection from Avira, and this engine has a solid reputation, even if it's not considered to be the best in the business.

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Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • 100MB hard drive space
  • 256MB RAM
  • 400MHz Intel or AMD processor
  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • 100MB hard drive space
  • 256MB RAM
  • 400MHz Intel or AMD processor

OUR VERDICT

In these spyware-infested times, Ad-Watch Connect is particularly useful and, should you be looking for solid all-round protection, that could make the Lavasoft Ad-Aware 2008 Pro version more tempting than Plus. In general, apart from the poor execution of RegShield, Ad-Aware does a competent job. Its overall performance, however, can be improved upon by alternative antivirus and antispyware programs.

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