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Top 5 Spyware and Adware Detection and Removal Tools

A study mentioned in an April E-Commerce Times article showed that the average user has 28 "spyware" (or adware) items infecting their PC. Most are fairly harmless- just tracking cookies and such that may offend you from a privacy perspective but don't really pose much of a security risk. However, there is a growing number of spyware that perform more malicious functions as well. These products will help to protect you from this growing threat.

1. Ad-Aware 6.0 Professional

Ad-Aware Professional from Lavasoft is pretty much the cream of the crop for spyware and adware removal. Lavasoft offers a stripped down version free for personal use, but the Professional version offers tons of features and functions not available in the free version. The free version will only do manual scans when the user initiates them, but the Professional version proactively protects the computer from getting spyware in the first place and easily qualifies as one of my Best Picks.

2. Spybot Search & Destroy

Spybot S & D is an excellent product. It ranks right up there with Ad-Aware as a Best Pick in terms of its ability to find and remove spyware and adware from an infected system. Spybot S & D is available for free which also means that no support is provided, however the product is stable and performs its function solidly. The primary difference between Spybot S & D and Ad-Aware Professional is that Spybot S & D does not proactively monitor and block spyware or adware threats.

3. Pest Patrol

Pest Patrol complements antivirus and firewall software and extends your protection against non-viral malicious software that evades other security software and invades your privacy. Computer Associates thought highly enough of this product that they bought the company, so you may soon see it re-introduced bundled with CA's antivirus software. Pest Patrol can receive automatic updates to ensure you always detect the latest threats.

4. McAfee Anti-Spyware

McAfee, known primarily for their antivirus products, is one of the biggest names in computer and network security. McAfee Anti-Spyware effectively detects and removes key loggers, remote-control programs, browser hijackers and other spyware that can steal your identity, snatch passwords or worse. The real-time monitor does not perform as well as that found in Ad-Aware Professional.

5. Spyware Guard

Spyware Guard from Javacool Software is a free program which performs real-time scans to catch and block spyware, browser-hijackers and prevent malware from downloading while surfing with Internet Explorer. It provides automatic signature updates with its SG LiveUpdate feature and has fair logging and reporting capabilities. The program is small in size, but seems to consume a disproportionate amount of system resources on some computers and may not be worth the impact to your PC.
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