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Lavasoft Ad-Aware Pro Anniversary Edition review


Effective at its core job, but its quirky and basic next to modern suites.

Review Date: 19 Feb 2009

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £23 (£26 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
5 stars out of 6

Believe it or not, it's now ten years since Lavasoft launched Ad-Aware to rescue Windows users from the deluge of Comet Cursors, Bonzi Buddies and other intrusive parties that threatened to swamp the systems of the trusting and unfortunate.

Sadly, the problem hasn't gone away. But today every major antivirus package now detects adware and spyware as a matter of course alongside more destructive threats. So, to remain competitive, Lavasoft has expanded the paid-for editions of Ad-Aware to detect worms, Trojans and other malware, to the extent that it's now an antivirus package in all but name.

Although the software has been updated under the bonnet, the front-end still reeks of the nineties. It's easy to get around, but even by the lax standards of security software its odd layout and weirdly spaced text sit awkwardly on a modern Windows system.

It does the job, though: against this month's selection of malware it scored a very creditable 96% detection rate - on a par with our A-Listed Avira Premium Security Suite. The cutely-named 'ThreatWork' system lets you send unknown samples to Lavasoft for analysis, and experienced users will also appreciate the Ad-Watch Live! system, which leaps in when a process tries to alter your startup configuration, and lets you permit or block the change.

It's not a terrifically lightweight package. When we booted our Vista system with Ad-Aware Pro installed, we saw 36 seconds of CPU activity after the desktop had appeared. A total system RAM usage of 668MB looks good next to Avira's 675MB; but then Avira is a full security suite, with a firewall, web protection and other modules. Run a standalone firewall alongside an Ad-Aware setup and you'll be looking at a far bigger footprint.

And, sadly, the same principle applies when it comes to price. Ad-Aware Pro is reasonably priced by antivirus standards - but an all-in-one suite is almost inevitably going to be better value. The cheaper Ad-Aware Plus is perhaps a more attractive option at just £16 exc VAT, but it lacks the real-time registry monitor as well as support for network drives.

Lavasoft has every reason to celebrate ten years in the business. But the market's moved on, and while Ad-Aware Pro does a very respectable job of sniffing out malware, most of us will be better served by a more comprehensive suite.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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