LavaSoft Free Antivirus Review
Real time protection against virus, spyware, malware, worms, Trojans, rootkits and more.
Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus relies on Bitdefender’s advanced scanning technology in combination with antispyware to provide users with top-of-the-line antivirus protection without system slowdowns.
Its focus lies on core protection against internet threats. The program features real-time antivirus and anti-spyware engines, rootkit protection, download protection and web filters for safe browsing, giving the user complete peace of mind when surfing online. The Ad-Aware Free Antivirus provides complete anti-malware protection based on Lavasoft’s pioneering technology for anti-spyware with traditional antivirus protection.
The product is more than adequately equipped to fight off threats on multiple levels. It is equally efficient in detecting and fighting off malware as well as viruses and Trojan horses by relying on a core antivirus and antispyware protection methodology. The first method of detecting malware is based on using traditional file-signature matching. The second technique is through advanced heuristic detection. Heuristic technology consists of behaviour analysis of files to uncover new threats that haven’t been spotted during initial scans.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free Antivirus can completely replace any premium or professional antivirus software like McAfee and Norton. While those programs include tools you won’t find in the free software, Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ delivers on-access or resident protection at no cost.
LavaSoft Free Antivirus Performance
Upon installation Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus runs a quick scan for active malware, which is a nice touch. Reboot is required after installation, which is a bit unusual and the free version also needs a registration code to be activated. Once malware definitions have been updated the program is ready for use.
A full scan of a standard clean test system takes about 39 minutes, which is just slightly more than the current average time for most free antivirus programs, and a repeat scan finishes in just 12 minutes. This is good, although it is considerably slower than AVG AntiVirus Free.
When it comes to static file detection test, Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus earns an Advanced+, which is the top rating. In other tests, it obtains an Advanced rating as it detects significantly more malware than competitor products like Avast, Avira and MalwareBytes. Automatic scanning of external storage devices is not included in the free version but the manual scan works just as well, eliminating over 70% of threats just by recognizing them on sight.
Unfortunately, the majority of the program’s settings are not available in the free version, which can be a bit of a nuisance. Lavasoft’s paid Ad-Aware product includes a Web protection component that protects the user from malicious or fraudulent websites. The free version, however, doesn’t offer phishing protection, but its Web Companion can detect some malware-hosting sites. The real-time protection function checks to make sure any downloaded files aren’t malicious.
As a whole, Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus focuses on the primary task of removing any malware that’s present on your system and preventing future attacks. It does a good job, but given the number of better-equipped competitor programs – there is no reason this should be your first choice when choosing a good antivirus program.
LavaSoft Free Antivirus Experience
LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus has a variety of features to help the user select actions and provides quick and convenient access to the main dashboard. Icons make it easy to view and identify protection and privacy tools. When the application is opened, it displays the security and system status to report progress from past and recent scans.
The main window of the program contains controls for every feature found in Lavasoft’s paid antivirus version. These components display a link titled Install, making it clearer that if users want to use them – they will need to upgrade to the paid product. However, this is the complete extent of LavaSoft’s reminders and ads of its paid software, which is a huge step forward compared to competitor product. The only other place, where the company tries to upsell is during download of the execution file.
A left-rail menu gives users access to security components in various categories. Several aren’t available in the free edition. For example, all components under Web Protection, Email Protection, and Network Protection can only be accessed in paid editions. However, you get easy access to the Home page’s protection summary, and you can click Scan Computer for a quick, full, or custom scan.
The overall interface of LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus is clean, simple and user-friendly. This is great for novice users who will not be overwhelmed by a lot of options and enjoy a consistent and simple design.
Ad-Aware’s Help Center deserves a special mention as it is beyond good for a freeware program. There are 3 support channels for Ad-Aware Free Antivirus: Email Support, FAQ’s, and Phone Support. This means users have significantly more options for receiving help using and understanding the antivirus software. If you experience a problem that goes beyond those simple solutions, you can enter your contact info and problem details directly in the Ad-Aware program. By default, it automatically sends relevant log files along with your query and it takes about 24 to 48 hours for their customer support department to come back with an answer.
LavaSoft Free Antivirus Pros and Cons
LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus is a nice choice if users are willing to overlook the many inactive features that limit its functionality to some extent. Its real-time protection feature is extremely important and it makes up for some of the other lacking components. If you install the program in compatible mode during setup, Ad-Aware Free Antivirus can be used with other antivirus software, which makes for an even greater level of security.
Pros of LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus
- Constant, real-time protection against spyware, viruses, and other malware
- Light on the CPU
- Daily automatic virus definition updates
- Silent “gaming” mode
- Quick, scheduled or manual scans
- Sandbox Emulation
Cons of LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus
- No phishing protection
- Some protective features reserved for paid editions
LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware Free Antivirus is an excellent application that does its job well despite certain limitations. While upgrading to the paid version will definitely increase the level of security by adding phishing protection and including your e-mail client in the scan options, the free version is a good basic antivirus program for users that want simple, uncluttered interface with standard scanning options and non-intrusive ad campaigns that provides adequate protection against known as well as new threats.