Ad-aware and Spybot no longer free?

The September Consumer Reports has a big article on computer security. My sister was inspired by it to pick up another layer of security. (She has the commercial version of McAfee running.)

According to the CR article, Spybot was free, so she decided to try that. She downloaded it from, it installed, she did a scan…and it refused to do anything about the suspicious files it reported finding. It told her to ‘click here’ to update, which she did, off to the website – which wanted her credit card to buy the full version.

“Free” apparently meaning, now, that it will scan “free”, but not fix anything. This is relatively analogous to a restaurant that serves ‘free’ food – but only if don’t actually plan to eat it.

Anyway, she decided to try Ad-Aware, also decribed as ‘Free’ in the CR article. Pretty much the same story, except the download was from Cnet.

Also, she reports that the web sites reach from the 'click here’s from both programs looked identical.

Is it possible that both programs have been sold to another company? And they no longer offer a truly free version of the programs?

I use AdAware, and it’s still free, or the version I have was. Why didn’t she go to the Lavasoft site to download AdAware?

I bet she downloaded free trials of the premium versions. I visited both package’s websites and found the free versions still available.


Spybot S&D:

They make pay versions with extra features.

You just have to download the free ones

Ah. Maybe that is the problem – she said she just typed in the addresses listed in the CR article.
Good to know they are still free.
Though, come to think of it, if they were ‘free trials’ shouldn’t they have done their thing at least ONCE before demanding a credit card?

Not necessarily. Lots of software companies will cripple key features in the trial versions of premium products. The idea, I suppose, is to prevent people from getting a “free ride” in the event they only need the features of the software one time. I think it sucks, but hey.

I’m curious. What did Consumer Reports recommend?

I use it myself and it is still free. After doing the scan you have to wait until all of the sites,or files or whatever corruption it finds are listed and then after that list is complete a little button will appear at the top of your screen (I think it says fix something) and then you click on it. I think this is different than it used to be.

Checking the CR site right now, the article on free security software lists for Lavasoft (Ad-Aware). and for Spybot. The print version may have recommended for brevity’s sake, but if so, it was a bad choice.

I usually get them from and have had no problems. I do know of people downloading the wrong (paid) version and occasionally the wrong program altogether.

The top spot went to Trend Micro AntiSpyware. Their Quick Picks were #1 Trend Micro and #2 Sunbelt Software CounterSpy 2 for paid protection and #7 Microsoft Windows Defender and #10 SpyBot for free proctection (these were the only 2 free programs tested).

SpyBot got an overall score of 60 out of 100, got the Good for Detection, Very Good for Features and Ease of Use.

They tested the paid version of Adaware (Lavasoft Adaware SE Plus), and it was #12 out of 12 programs tested. I have no idea how Adaware labels its versions, but since there was a price listed (instead of “free” like for Window Defender and SpyBot), it wasn’t a difficult conclusion to make.

Just reporting back:

I DLed both programs from the urls in Q.E.D.'s post, and have successfully installed and run them on my sister’s computer. (Which resulted in an AMAZING list of stuff to fix, despite her having McAfee running since the day she bought the computer.)

Weirdly enough, clicking on the download icon on one of those pages (I think it was AdAware, but I’m not sure 'cause I was doing this around 2 a.m.) sent me off to

And, of course, the AdAware version I got DOES include an ‘update’ button during the initial run which is for selling you the paid/full version of the program – which I suspect is what confused my sister. She likely thought it was another round of getting the virus data files up to date and clicked it.

Though that doesn’t explain something similar happening in Spybot, since that program is free. :confused:

Nevermind. She’s now got both free versions, and the internet is just a bit safer for her now.

Thanks for the help. :slight_smile:

McAfee is an anti-virus program, though, isn’t it? Those don’t do anything about spyware, which is what Ad-Aware and Spybot S&D fix.

McAfee sells both anti-virus and anti-spyware software, usually in some sort of bundle.

Its it just me? My opinion of McAfee is that my machine seems to get bogged down with all of the other overhead crap that comes with it. The same is true with Norton. I’ve always experienced more problems with them that they’re worth. Oh, and God help you if you want to remove them from your computer.

I would like virusscan writers to realize their particular type of software is supposed to be a BACKGROUND PROCESS. I don’t know too many people who buy virus software because it will be fun to use, or help me accomplish some goal.

Norton Utilities, at least, was good way back in the 1980s, before Peter Norton sold out to Symantec. Why anyone uses either of those programs these days is beyond me.

Most people get stuck with this shovelware when they buy a new PC and presume it is OK 'cause the PC maker included it.

That reminds me – the latest flyer I got from Dell Computers was pushing new ‘business’ computers. The big selling point? It comes only with the software you want, no trialware stuff.

What the world has come to, when you boast about NOT including extras and it’s a genuinely appealing idea. :smiley:

A word to the wise. Even at, otherwise a reputable site, there are many clones of spybot such as spywarebot, botspy, and spyitbot, all of which are not only NOT what you are looking for, but may not be free, either. Let’s be careful out there and insist on the genuine article.

And speaking about the genuine article, as much as I respect CU for some reporting, they are the last place I would go for advice on computer matters. I don’t think they have anyone on staff that has any computer experience worth listening to, but that’s just IMHO, so you can ignore me since this is GQ.

Yes, Spybot and Adaware are still available in free versions. So is AVG anti-virus by Grisoft.