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Webroot Spy Sweeper

Webroot Spy Sweeper

This product has been dis-continued by Webroot.

Stephen
Qualtrough

Reviewer

Technology should make our lives easier

 
Review

Review summary

Good points Webroot Spy Sweeper review good points

• Highly effective at detecting and removing spyware

• Protects systems from various types of malware

• Offers many excellent features

• Updates automatically

• Free telephone support

Bad points Webroot Spy Sweeper review bad points

• Tries to install the Ask.com toolbar during installation

• Scans slightly slower than many competitors' products

• Anti-virus protection is not included

Our verdict

Webroot Spy Sweeper is a powerful tool that can be used to effectively protect Windows-based systems from various types of malware, including spyware, scareware, rootkits, and more. It includes a wide range of easy-to-use features and performs reasonably well. With its default settings in place, Spy Sweeper is easy enough for a novice to use, but it is also highly customizable. For PC users of all levels, Webroot Spy Sweeper is an excellent system-security addition.


Full review

Setup

According to Webroot, Spy Sweeper can be run on a system with no more than a 300MHz processor and 256MB of system memory; this means that Spy Sweeper can easily be run on nearly any PC purchased in the last decade. In fact, these days, most computers are equipped with at least 1GB of memory, so the vast majority of users will have no issues meeting Spy Sweeper's minimum requirements.

Even on a test system with fairly weak hardware, Spy Sweeper's installation process was quick and easy. In most instances, we opted for the default installation settings, and we advise that most users, especially novices, do the same. However, be warned that Spy Sweeper will also attempt to install the Ask.com toolbar by default, a harmless but unnecessary inclusion.

Following the installation, we felt the need to slightly tweak Spy Sweeper's settings. For some reason, its default configuration leaves the detection of keyloggers and rootkits disabled. Since these are both common threats to a modern computer's security, we enabled detection for each; you should probably do the same. While enabling the detection of additional malware types will increase scan time slightly, the extra security is certainly worth it.

Scan performance

Spy Sweeper offers three different types of scans: quick, full, and custom. Full sweeps are more thorough than quick sweeps, but they do take longer. Custom sweeps can be configured to scan everything from attached drives to the registry, which is something that experienced users will appreciate.

In the majority of our tests, other anti-spyware solutions, such as Spyware Doctor, performed scans slightly faster than Spy Sweeper. However, Spy Sweeper performs idle-time scanning by default, which means that scans should usually occur only when the system is not in use. Because of this feature, the extra bit of time required for Spy Sweeper's scans will probably not be an issue for most users.

Effectiveness

In our tests, Webroot Spy Sweeper was able to detect and remove the majority of malware threats. While other anti-spyware software was able to perform better in some areas of malware removal, Spy Sweeper was capable of remaining competitive. In other areas, however, such as system protection, Spy Sweeper manages to outperform competitors' products.

To keep systems safe from malware, Spy Sweeper includes fifteen protective shields designed to defend systems against security threats. These shields protect systems from various types of malicious programs. For instance, one shield ensures that unknown programs are unable to update the system registry without permission. Other shields are even capable of preventing phishing and reducing spam.

System performance

We mentioned earlier in the review that Spy Sweeper's hardware requirements are quite minimal. As a result, we found that Spy Sweeper uses a negligible amount of system resources, and it can easily run in the background while other programs are open. Besides, with idle-time scanning enabled, it is unnecessary to run scans while the computer is in use.

Updates

Webroot constantly expands and updates its spyware definitions to keep Spy Sweeper's level of protection high. By default, all updates are performed automatically on a regular basis. We encountered no problems with the update process and found it to be quite convenient.

Features

Webroot Spy Sweeper includes a variety of features that most users will appreciate. Many of these features, like post-scanning reports and the ability to quarantine spyware, are quite common. Other features, however, such as idle-time scanning, really stand out among the competitions' offerings. It is important to note, however, that Spy Sweeper does not include an anti-virus component. For an additional $10, Webroot Antivirus with Spy Sweeper can be purchased.

Ease of use

Spy Sweeper is designed primarily for home users. As a result, it is very easy to use. In fact, with the default settings in place, Spy Sweeper is almost fully automated. Of course, though, for those who want to customize Spy Sweeper's settings, there are plenty of options that can be easily tweaked to fit nearly any users' needs.

Help & support

All Webroot software, including Spy Sweeper, includes a great support package. Support inquiries can be made by phone or through e-mail, and the Webroot website also contains a detailed FAQ section. Telephone-support staff are based in the United States, which is a nice bonus, and we found them to be extremely helpful and friendly. Webroot staff responded to our e-mail inquiries within a few business days; their answers were detailed and helpful. All things considered, we were extremely impressed with Webroot's customer support.

Overall

Webroot Spy Sweeper upholds its great anti-spyware reputation with its latest release. In fact, while we have a few minor complaints, this release of Spy Sweeper is, in several ways, the best yet. Independent test results show that Spy Sweeper now detects and blocks even more forms of malware at the point of infection. Not only is the latest release of Spy Sweeper effective, it is user friendly, light on resources, and highly customizable.

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Ratings breakdown

Overall
 received a rating of 5 for Overall
Setup
 received a rating of 5 for Setup
Scan performance
 received a rating of 5 for Scan performance
Effectiveness
 received a rating of 5 for Effectiveness
System performance
 received a rating of 5 for System performance
Updates
 received a rating of 5 for Updates
Features
 received a rating of 5 for Features
Ease of use
 received a rating of 5 for Ease of use
Help & support
 received a rating of 5 for Help & support