Reviews

Review: Ad-Aware SE

Ad-Aware SE Professional
$39.95
Lavasoft
Sweden
+46 (0) 515 503 00
www.lavasoft.de

There are more bad things on the Internet than just viruses and worms, of course. You'll find sneaky programs that track your browsing habits, programs that hijack your browser start page, programs that inject popup windows (usually advertising something that you'd be embarassed to have your mother see) at the most inopportune times. Combatting this sort of adware and privacy invasion is the purpose of Ad-Aware.

When you first install the application, it scans your system for known parasites, poking around in the registry, looking at files, and even inspecting alternate data streams in NTFS files. This can take quite a while on a large system, but it's worth letting the process complete. You'll likely find that a few suspicious things turn up, ranging from cookies that are known to track surfing habits to dubious registry entries. You can double-click any of these to get details, and with a few mouse clicks you can wipe them back off your system.

Then, you can activate the AdWatch function to make sure such crud stays gone after it gets gone. AdWatch monitors things coming in from the net on a continuous basis, making sure that nothing bad gets installed in the first place. There's also a ProcessWatch that does the same for running processes.

Even if you're careful about your own surfing habits, you may well find that friends and relatives are less so. Knowing about Ad-Aware can be part of a thorough cleaning program that many people need. I keep it up and running on my kids' computers, since it's hard to know where they're going to surf to next, and folks at childrens' Web sites are not above dropping a raft of cookies or offering enticing things to click on.

One last thing: pay careful attention to the URL. Lavasoft is not, in fact, at lavasoft.com (though the helpful people there do provide a link to the site), nor is it at adaware.com (which leads to a copycat program that some have suggested is of lower quality).

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