PC Tools Spyware Doctor
This product has been dis-continued by PC Tools.
• Effective protection from various forms of malware
• Reasonable price
• Familiar, intuitive interface
• Scans can be a little heavy on system resources
• Reports several non-malicious cookies as security threats
In an increasingly competitive market, Spyware Doctor has managed to remain one of the most successful anti-spyware products. Time and again, we have found that this success is well deserved. Spyware Doctor's latest release provides excellent protection from malware without compromising a system's usability, and most consumers will appreciate this product's clean, simple interface.
Spyware Doctor is a fairly lightweight anti-spyware application, and its system requirements are similar to those of most competing products. With at least 500MHz of processing power and 512MB of system memory, users should have absolutely no issues running the latest version of Spyware Doctor smoothly. Fans of Spyware Doctor's previous releases will be pleased to know that the latest version supports a wider range of operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Better still, Spyware Doctor now supports 64-bit versions of Windows.
On our test system, a fairly weak laptop with a 32-bit installation of Windows 7, Spyware Doctor installed quite easily. From start to finish, the installation took about four minutes. However, it was necessary to restart our system following the installation, so the setup required a total of about six minutes. After we restarted our system, Spyware Doctor was running and ready for its initial scan.
The latest version of Spyware Doctor offers multiple scanning options, including the Intelli-Scan option from previous versions. Intelli-Scan, which is basically a quick scan, searches through the system areas that are most likely to contain malware infections. Since it is faster than the other scanning options, Intelli-Scan will probably be the scanning method of choice for most users. On our system, for instance, Intelli-Scan took less than five minutes to complete. The other scanning modes, full and custom, operate and perform similarly to the scanning modes of competing anti-spyware products.
Spyware Doctor's initial scan flagged a number of potential spyware threats that were not detected by other anti-spyware software. With minimal effort on our part, all of the detected threats were removed. In our tests, Spyware Doctor was able to eliminate malware more effectively than most competing products. Webroot Spy Sweeper is the only anti-spyware application that managed to detect and remove a higher percentage of security threats.
Spyware Doctor's IntelliGuard technology provides effective real-time defense against malware. It is designed to actively protect computers from spyware, tracking cookies, keyloggers, browser hijackers, and more. For the most part, IntelliGuard works quite well. However, we did notice that it flagged several non-malicious cookies as spyware infections. These were cookies from reputable websites that posed no security risk whatsoever. While a few false positives are certainly not a major issue, they can still be quite bothersome.
While Spyware Doctor was running with IntelliGuard active, we experienced no noticeable slowdowns. While scanning, on the other hand, our system did feel a bit more sluggish than usual. For our purposes, this minor slowdown was not a major issue. Since Intelli-Scan takes no more than a few minutes to complete, most users will probably not mind the minor slowdowns that scans may cause on low-end systems.
By default, Spyware Doctor automatically updates its spyware definitions when the system starts up. It is also possible to perform updates manually, but this is not usually necessary. Throughout the whole of the testing process, we encountered no issues with Spyware Doctor's update function.
Spyware Doctor offers a variety of features designed to effectively remove existing malware and prevent future infections from occurring. Many of these features, like Intelli-Scan, have been a part of Spyware Doctor for quite some time. A few features, however, such as multi-layered browsing protection, are completely new. The majority of these features, new and old, manage to boost system security and increase Spyware Doctor's usability.
One feature that we really liked, Game Mode, detects full-screen applications and postpones resource-intensive tasks, such as system scans, until a later time. While features like Game Mode are not essential, they are nice to have. The average user will appreciate how Spyware Doctor manages to keep their system secure without becoming obtrusive; we certainly did.
Ease of use
Users who have experience with previous versions of Spyware Doctor will feel right at home with the latest release. This version manages to retain the look and functionality of Spyware Doctor's classic interface without feeling dated. Because of its clean, simple interface, Spyware Doctor is incredibly easy to configure and a pleasure to use.
Help & support
As is the case with many other top anti-spyware applications, Spyware Doctor comes with a wide range of support options. In addition to support through e-mail, chat, and an active forum, users located in the United States also receive free phone-based support.
With a rich feature set, an easy-to-use interface, and effective protection from various forms of malware, the latest Spyware Doctor release is an excellent anti-spyware product. While competing products may outperform Spyware Doctor in some areas, few are able to match its ease of use. Overall, Spyware Doctor is still one of the best anti-spyware products available.
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