Spybot - Search & Destroy Review

Product: Spybot Search & Destroy
Price: $0
Company Info: Safer Networking Ltd -
Editor Rating:


Spybot Search & Destroy Review

Winner of dozens of awards since 2003, Spybot Search and Destroy has been a name many have hailed throughout most of the last decade. The initial version was developed when concepts like spyware were still a relatively new threat to users, and today's marketing materials peg it as a "to see if something has invaded your computer." The company itself has almost no hype surrounding their product, so what you see on the site is a fairly no-nonsense overview of the capabilities the program offers.

On-site materials to help you decide whether or not this is the product for you include a list of the top threats today, and introduction to the program itself, and a compatibility overview to ensure your computer will work with their program. Additionally, they've been pushing their ability to clean usage tracks in case you have a shared machine. This, like most of the features, comes with the complete free version of the program. There is also a professional version of the program available these days, and the added bonus here, according to their site, is that you can get some extended reports that would be helpful to an analyst as well as the ability to repair registry inconsistencies.

The real question when it comes to any anti-spyware application, though, is how well it can actually tackle the problem at hand, and given its longevity on the market today, it's very possible to immediately believe this could be the answer to all of your potential spyware problems.


The program itself is a fairly easy one to use, though the number of menus may look a little overwhelming at first glance. The first step is to agree to the company's terms of service, and from there, you can choose your language. Spybot has grown over the past several years, and there's a massive list of world languages to choose from. Some, however, have complained that the translated version in a few of the European languages is a bit incomplete and still incorporates many English functions. Should you forget to select a language at this point, or you need to change the language later on, you can do so within the Spybot interface.

Once it's actually installed on your computer, you are walked through your first experience with the program thanks to a Wizard-style guide so you get a better sense of how to perform each function, including the essential ones like backing up your registry.

Within the program itself, there are essentially two ways to protect your computer. The first is the scanner, but don't forget to update it before you get started. New detection updates are released once a week, and should you find yourself unable to auto-connect via the software interface, you'll likely be able to connect via their website to get the updates you need.

The other major way to protect your computer is to use the unique immunize function, and while it primarily deals with problems you might find in Internet Explorer, it's still a good way to keep potential spyware products off of your computer.


There are always a few areas to talk about when you get into how well the scanner performs, and for most, the first major area is speed - both the speed of the scan and the speed of your computer during the course of the scan. Most of the scans last around forty minutes, which is a bit slower than some products on the market today, but it seems to do a thorough job of checking every aspect of your computer within that time frame. The performance of your machine, though, is likely to suffer during the course of the scan. As with most software in this category, it's probably best to let it scan while you do something away from your screen, as calling up even simple applications will reveal some performance delays.

As far as finding software that may actually harm your computer, you may find this application goes above and beyond the call of duty. It detects many things other scanners don't because the database is so comprehensive. The biggest problem for most users, though, is that it does come up with some things not typically considered spyware (like tracking cookies), and it occasionally rings in with a false positive. Fortunately, however, you don't have to remove everything it finds on your machine.

Pros and Cons

+It's a completely free application, which is a must for those who want to protect their computers, yet still get the spyware protection they deserve.

+ Spybot is a standalone application. These days, most spyware removers are almost always part of another program, and if you're looking for something that will meet your needs without the add-on programs, this is a good choice.

-The real time protection interface isn't as helpful as you might imagine. It's unable to catch many of the programs that could instantly be installed on your machine, and while it might later pick them up in a scan setting, it's frustrating that they're initially installed at all.

+/- Compatible with most major operating systems including XP, Vista, and Windows 7.


Spybot Search and Destroy remains one of the single most popular spyware solutions on the market today, and as the amount of malware only continues to increase in the cyber-friendly world of today, protection is an absolute must. While the real-time protection offered here isn't as valuable as some other applications, it's certainly one solution that you won't regret downloading, especially given the non-existent price tag.

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