Antispyware tools seem to be proliferating nearly as fast as spyware itself. Choice is usually a good thing—as long as you make the right one. So for this story we tested two antispyware utilities we hadnt encountered before, as well as a significantly revised version of Lavasofts perennially popular Ad-Aware, which looks better than ever.
Our testing also gave us an opportunity to confirm that Windows XP Service Pack 2 indeed raises the bar for built-in defense against adware and spyware programs that attempt to infiltrate your system. To exercise the antispyware programs fully, though, we made a point of ignoring SP2s warnings about potentially dangerous behavior, doing our best to act like an imprudent user lulled by the siren song of free software, peer-to-peer music swapping, and the like.
For the best spyware protection, we recommend installing SP2 and actually heeding the warnings issued by Internet Explorer—and then backing up that defense with a dedicated antispyware tool like the new Ad-Aware SE Plus 1.0.2 (reviewed here) or our other Editors Choice, Webroots Spy Sweeper 3.0. Both of these tools are comparable in terms of what they block in real-time, and both are far ahead of any others weve tested in this regard (though still not perfect). Likewise, their detection and removal performance is very good, though definitely imperfect). And the UI and threat information each provides is excellent.
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