PC Tools Spyware Doctor 4 review
A great product, but it falls slightly behind its main competitor when it comes to updates
Review Date: 22 Sep 2006
Reviewed By: Davey Winder
Price when reviewed: (£23 inc VAT)
It's no bad thing to say that not a great deal has changed since Spyware Doctor 3.8. It's certainly true when it comes to performance: our tests expose programs to 20 carefully selected keylogger, rootkit, spyware and malware threats, a few at a time, to reflect real-world infection patterns. Detecting, removing and blocking all 20 successfully, Spyware Doctor isn't only a top performer, but a speedy one too: 40% quicker than Spy Sweeper (see above). The downside is that it ties up more processing cycles, without the option of throttling back resource usage.
New to this version is an enhanced ignore list that uses integrity checks to prevent malware escaping detection, as well as an improvement to the browser activity scanner, which now detects malicious cookies stored by Firefox as well as IE. PC Tools has added an option of creating a System Restore point prior to threat removal, in addition to the built-in quarantine and restore feature - the first anti-spyware application to do this. Like Spy Sweeper, it can detect the new breed of malware that installs as a driver, and has an equivalent to Webroot's real-time protection shields in the form of guards. These include a site guard to warn of potentially dangerous websites, a keylogger guard and a process guard that not only kills spyware processes and stops them launching, but does so at kernel level.
Unfortunately, the IM guard was taken out of service when we reviewed the product due to support issues. Unlike Spy Sweeper, Alternate Data Streams (ADS) detection is toggled off by default, apparently because there are no known threats in the wild and it affects scanning times - an error of judgement in our opinion. The automatic search for updates is toggled off by default too, and the update process is far from automatic or silent.
We're assured many of these rough edges will be smoothed off when version 5 is released. But the fact that version 4, despite performing as well in the Labs as Spy Sweeper, has those rough edges ruins its A List chances.
Author: Davey Winder
- Toshiba beats retreat from consumer PC market
- Google to follow Apple with device encryption
- U2 and Apple working on "new music format"
- Ellison steps down: but who's really running Oracle now?
- Audioboo to become Audioboom in app revamp
- Apple slaps down Google and police, as it takes high ground on user privacy
- Amazon releases high-end Kindle Voyage Touch
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Virgin carpeted again for broadband speed claims
- Microsoft set to make more job cuts
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- The 7 best Chromebooks of 2014
- iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5: is the Apple or Samsung flagship smartphone right for you?
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6 (X or Shamu) release date, price and specs rumour roundup
- Best of IDF: top tech and memorable moments from Intel's tech show
- How Apple Pay works and how to use it on your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch
- Tech of the future... and the British boffins building it
- Abuse magnets: the people behind corporate Twitter accounts
- Putting people at the centre of software design
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office