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Spyware Doctor Review



Product: Spyware Doctor - discontinued product
Price: $29.95
Company Info: PC Tools - www.pctools.com
Editor Rating:

Review of Spyware Doctor 2011 for Windows 7, Vista, XP.

Each year, there are more malicious code and malware programs released than there are legitimate software applications.  Traditionally, these have been clunky attempts that were, for the most part, fairly easy to detect if not avoid completely.  Today, however, malware is getting smarter.  It is invading previously secure arenas, including Mac, and it is becoming widespread on mobile devices.  The threats are largely customized and unique, meaning that they are more difficult to detect and prevent.  PC Tools established itself as one of the most popular anti-malware providers on the market, but can the updated Spyware Doctor 2011 protect against new and increasingly sophisticated threats?  With an impressive list of awards in its corner, and with millions of downloads, this program emerges as one of the most effective.

Interface

Spyware Doctor’s previous versions have been popular, in large part, because of their simple, user-friendly interface.  The 2011 iteration, also known as Spyware Doctor 8, is no different.  Users and critics cite the intuitive interface as one of the antivirus program’s key features.  It is easy to install, even for those with little technical experience. The anti-malware program has been downloaded over 160 million times, an incredible adoption rate that continues to grow by millions each week.

Installation is quick; it takes only a few minutes to download the program, but the system must be rebooted to finish installation.  After that, however, an initial scan takes only five minutes, compared to up to 30 minutes for other leading programs (including Spyware Doctor7).  An improvement of the 2011 edition over Spyware Doctor 7 is the smaller initial download size.  This allows for faster installation and immediate protection.  In addition, the State Awareness model detects how you use your PC and adjusts the program to minimize impact and interruption.  Users are, of course, concerned with how the security program functions, but how the program affects their computers’ performance is also important.  PC Tools’ program has a minimal impact and allows uninterrupted use.

The PC Tools program appeals to those who need to download a program and then forget about it.  Default settings work automatically to provide security from spyware, adware, Trojans, phishing attacks, keyloggers, and other threats.  But it is not enough for security programs to react to threats; they must be proactive as well.  This is a main strength of Spyware Doctor 2011, which uses reactive backlists to protect against known threats, as well as proactive analysis to predict and guard against emerging ones.  The program is configured to automatically update to optimize performance and keep your system safe from new and/or potential threats.  Free updates are provided for one year after purchase, after which time, users can renew their license for continued protection.
PC Tools’ menu and screens are clear, concise, and conveniently color-coded to provide at-a-glance information.  The main information screen will indicate whether your protection is turned on with a bright green bar; if not, it will show red.  Green checks tell you that your Scan Now and Intelliguard protections are activated.  Users have easy access to information, including last scan time, version, and last Smart Update. A bulleted action item list is provided on the left side to allow users to initiate a scan, check or change their settings, check their status, look at tools, or explore IntelliGuard.  Users can either rely on default settings or customize protection to get the level of security they need.

IntelliScans have a bar infograph to indicate it is running, and it will display a continual list of threats detected.  Scan results are easy to read and understand; the number of threats found will be highlighted, and each will be displayed next to a bar, indicating its threat level.  Users have the option of accessing more information about the specific threat and/or removing the checked threats.  Users can also create a restore point before they clean files so, if an error is made, it can be resolved easily and without loss of important data.

In the updated version of Spyware Doctor, users will have more control over their security settings and have the capability of optimising PC performance to target the features they need.  Advanced settings, like history logs, are available for IntelliGuard, and users can opt to disable idle scan to boost computer performance.  Another useful feature for laptop/notebook users is the Power Saving Mode.  Power-intensive tasks are postponed automatically until your machine is plugged in, which helps extend battery life.

Threats are more customized now, so PC Tools has revamped its top program to deliver more personalized and targeted protection.

Performance

Spyware Doctor 2011 reviews well with consumers and critics, most of who say that its ability to use both proactive and reactive analysis provides a more complete layer of protection.  The program has won praise from leading experts, including PC World, PC Magazine, PC Authority, PC Utilities, PC Advisor, PC Answers Magazine, Computer Bild, and Microdatorn.  It is consistently rated as one of the best stand-alone antispyware programs on the market, and a number of new and improved performance features increase ease of use and boost protection from more sophisticated cyber-threats. 

One of the most crucial is multi-layered browsing protection.  This safeguards your system from web-based attacks, which include silent “drive-by” downloads, scare tactics, and phishing attacks.  Another innovation is the new Download Guard, which checks all downloads for threats against a cloud-based network for up-to-the-minute protection.  This, as well as the existing Site Guard, protects your PC from visiting potentially compromised websites or downloading threats from email, instant messages, or via your browser.  Cookie Guard and Browser Guard are also designed to provide protection from possible threats from tracking and advertising cookies, malicious files, or unsafe websites.  All of these features are important because of the sheer volume of malicious code that is written into search results, email attachments, links, and even legitimate websites.

IntelliGuard, while not a new feature, has been updated to provide improved protection from keyloggers, Trojans, malicious websites, rootkits, browser hijackers, and suspicious Active X objects.  In addition to Download Guard, Site Guard, Cookie Guard, and Browser Guard, Intelliguard offers Email, File, Immunizer, Process, Behavior, and Startup Guards to protect specific processes of your system.

Threats have grown progressively complex, and Spyware Doctor 2011 counters with advanced features like ThreatFire Behavioral Intelligence, which is designed to block new threats rapidly by diagnosing computer processes to detect malicious activity and block it.  This option is available as a plug-in, but because of the sophistication of new malware programs, it is worth investing in for anyone who uses the internet.  24/7 Global Malware Research Center is included with the original license and helps prevent cybercrime.

PC Tools’ updated antivirus program has been tested by leading independent labs and reviewed by impartial experts; the consensus is that while there are flaws, it is a “solid spyware remover.”  A CNET review tells users, “Spyware Doctor 8 offers users a superb collection of malware prevention and removal.”

Pros and Cons

+ Spyware Doctor 2011 offers new, built-in tools that are better at removing resistant malware applications, particularly rootkits.

+ The program scans your system multiple times, if needed, to ensure that cleanup is thorough and complete.

+ Browser Defender helps users identify potentially malicious websites, which is a major source for malware propagation.

+ Gaming mode eliminates screen interruptions during games and movies.

+ Users have access to free phone and email support.

- The free edition of this program does not remove adware and has a stripped down interface.  It is impossible to judge the strength of the paid version simply by using the free program. The free version does, however, provide real-time protection.

-  The protection offered by Spyware Doctor 2011 is not as comprehensive or thorough as that of the more advanced Spyware Doctor with Antivirus.

-  Many experts, including PC Magazine, claim that phishing protection is weak.

-  If there is already malware on a PC, it can block the installation of Spyware Doctor 2011.

-  Some users complain of computer slow-downs and/or freezes as a result of operation.

Summary

Spyware Doctor 2011 is not a perfect antivirus solution, though it could be easily debated that there is no such thing.  For the price of $29.95, which allows protection for three household computers, it is a low-cost option that provides solid protection.  It is the most effective antivirus program in its price class, and, in fact, it outperforms programs that cost twice as much.  If a computer is free of malware, PC Tools’ application provides outstanding protection against viruses and other forms of malware.  This, and its ease of use, makes it a great choice for the average computer users who needs increased protection from cyber-threats.





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