Spybot – Search & Destroy is nothing short of a veteran in the antimalware industry. The product launched back in 2000 and has been a solid protection choice for many years now. Originally the program was designed solely to prevent spyware from infecting your computer.
Spyware is a type of malware that tracks your web browsing behaviors. Spyware typically only capture web browsing data in hopes to sell it. However, Spyware will also try to get more sensitive information such as banking details, social security numbers and more. Spyware was an incredibly popular choice of malware back when Spybot was released.
However, today Spyware is less common as ransomware is on the rise and is more effective. The end goal of most malware is to make money for the developer who made it. This begs the question is Spybot – Search & Destroy still effective in 2018 let’s discuss.
Before, we break down the features a note Spybot only offers antivirus (malware protection) on one of their premium versions the free version only provides anti-spyware protection. Therefore, I will mark all premium features as such to avoid confusion.
Anti-Spyware Protection: What Spybot is known for as covered above anti-spyware protects you from getting your personal data stolen and sold.
Anti-Virus Protection *Premium: This is a feature that prevents infection from varying types of malware. This is what you get in free programs like 360 Total Security.
Live Protection *Premium: This feature is just like every other antivirus it provides real-time protection against malware (as opposed to scanning afterward to discover the system is infected).
Anti-Beacon *Premium: This is actually an interesting feature, a lot of software collects what’s known as telemetry data. Telemetry is anonymous information about how a program is performing. Microsoft collects information such as how many systems have a blue screen of death for instance. This feature prevents that data from being collected (cool but kind of pointless).
System Immunization: The feature that Spybot is most known for and is most effective at. The feature works like real-time protection but in a smarter way. When the system is immunized and say it has the rule to block a website. When you attempt to visit the website it prevents you from accessing it all together, as opposed to visiting it and then getting warned. It also will do the same thing for tracking cookies, and other forms of malware.
Startup Tools: This tool looks and is so dated, and a bit complicated. In short, the tool allows you to see what services launch with windows. This can help diagnose already infected computers.
Rootkit Scan: Rootkits are another niche type of malware this tool will scan and try to remove them. I recommend avoiding this tool as it often leads to false positives.
Automatic Signature Updates *Premium: Another paid only feature it just keeps the program’s database up to date automatically.
Task Scheduling *Premium: This sounds more impressive than it actually is, essentially it just allows you to schedule actions for Spybot. Whether it’s automatic scans, updates or immunizations they can all be scheduled using this tool.
Protected Repair Environment *Premium: This tool is quite interesting and very useful. The tool essentially runs a new windows desktop (that is separate from your current usual desktop). This tool prevents Spybot from being taken over or disabled by malware that is on the computer. Think of it as a Sandbox but instead of running malware you’re running Spybot in it.
System Registry Repair *Premium: The System Registry Repair is just a really complicated way of saying registry cleaner. Spybot will scan the computer for unnecessary registry keys and to clean them out. It can help resolve strange system anomalies (in very rare situations).
Script Editor *Premium: Now, this is 100% unique to Spybot this feature allows you to write your own detection patterns. This is useful if you’re looking to get rid of unwanted files that might be tied to a malicious program.
Command Line Tools *Premium: This simply allows you to run various Spybot tasks but through your command prompt in windows. This has some uses with advanced debugging depending on the type of infection so it’s actually quite useful.
Boot CD Creation *Premium: This is a tool that you can use to start your computer from. If your system is already infected with malware it can prevent your antivirus program (including Spybot) from running. Therefore, you can run this tool without the malware activating with the rest of Windows. However, sadly this tool doesn’t work on Windows 10.
FileAlyzer *Premium: The final tool is purely mean for technicians, to show file structures and basic file content. This is ultimately useless for most users and you wouldn’t need to bother with it.
The base version of the program lacking an antivirus engine requires you to run another solution with it. You can run the free version of Spybot with say 360 Total Security without issues. However, the paid version includes the Bitdefender antivirus engine and therefore you can’t run it with another antivirus program.
Bitdefender routinely scores 100% on av-test and various other antivirus testing sites. In theory, with proper implementation, the paid version of Spybot would be more than sufficient to protect your computer from various types of common malware.
Spybot – Search & Destroy is an amazing anti-spyware program that even in its free version is a great companion for your computer’s security.
However, the outdated user interface and the lack of antivirus protection on the free version make it feel left behind. Additionally, the program while having great protection methods even in its free version feels redundant. Most antivirus programs today are more than sufficient for keeping your computer safe and Spybot has not proven to be a necessity for a computer that already has a traditional antivirus program.
Spybot also feels outdated and left behind by more modern protection suites that make me question why I would use their program over the competition even in the paid suite of programs Bitdefender Total Security comes with more useful features, and likely better protection results.
What are your thoughts on Spybot? Have you ever used the program and what do you think they need to evolve further?