Ad-Aware is a very popular free antivirus program that is produced by Lavasoft. Ad-Aware used to be the name in anti-spyware protection but has since evolved into a full-fledged antivirus suite.  Ad-Aware has made a major improvement to its old outdated interface that we saw in version 10, but it still manages to look rather poor in cluttered. The program doesn’t really offer you much in the feature department as it doesn’t offer even close to the amount of features that you get with other free alternatives such as 360 Total Security.

Features For Free Users

  • Real-time protection: Ad-Aware only allows users to have their files protected leaving you vulnerable to web threats and potential phishing scams.
  • Download protection: Ad-Aware will scan all downloads regardless of the file type while this is a handy feature it’s almost becoming the standard for antivirus programs.
  • Gaming Mode: This feature does not offer anything for protection but as a convenience for when you are gaming or using other full-screen applications. It simply means you will not have any notifications or warnings that would otherwise interrupt your experience.
  • Safe Browsing: This feature is only available if you opt to download the additional web companion that it prompts on the installation of the program, while there is no formal testing of the safe browsing protection you do miss out on quite a few other online protections or at least according to their site.
  • Antivirus Companion: Ad-Aware allows its self to be installed alongside another antivirus program and to act as a second opinion when necessary, this is unique to the program and makes it rather tempting to install the program along with another traditional antivirus.

Protection Scores

Ad-Aware does have rather impressive protection scores, but it still manages to trail behind other companies. According to protection scores from Virus Bulletin, Ad-Aware scores between the 89% to 96% range. While these might be impressive it is quite common with other antivirus programs to stay in the upper half and for them to have a smaller range.


These are the most recent test scores as it seems Ad-Aware is not the highest scoring, nor is it the best in terms of performance. In my video testing I found Ad-Aware to be using 160MB of RAM passively while 360 Total Security was using much more, my setup for it was to scan and monitor all files while Ad-Aware was left to use the out of the box settings. However, there was no performance impact on the PC that was noticeable.

Final Thoughts

Ad-Aware is a very powerful free antivirus program, and even though it seems to be lacking features, it still manages to pull through with lab testing. The scores are slightly lower than other programs, but it does make the perfect companion for another antivirus program. If you are looking for a powerful free antivirus for your computer you should have no problem using Ad-Aware, but if you are looking for the best in Antivirus protection, then you might want to look elsewhere.


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