Top-16 Free Anti-Spyware Programs

In continuation to our previous post about anti-malware tools, we pursue further and deeper into the topic of internet security – for you, our reader. Spyware is especially perilous, as it might steal your passwords, record you, collect browsing habits, etc. Anti-spyware software is usually an antivirus program, general or threat-specific.

We’ve collected 16 spyware protection tools from simple Google search and studied their features, performance, issues. These programs include typical antivirus (Avira, Avast, AVG, McAfee), Internet security suites (eScan, Emsisoft, Comodo, Spybot, Dr.Web, ESET), specific anti-spyware tools (Malwarebytes, Spyware Terminator, SUPERAntispyware, Spyware Fighter, SpyHunter), and one Microsoft tool – Safety Scanner.

There are three chapters of our analysis: feature summary table, brief introductions of each tool with pros and cons, and performance tests. Here goes the first part.  

Product License Pricing License offers Platforms Languages Installer size Disk space Portable version
Avira Free Antivirus Free $22 Web protection, encryption Windows, Mac 18 130 MB 195 MB no
Emsisoft Anti-Malware 30-day trial $20 Unlimited use Windows 20 320 MB 663 MB no
eScan Total Security 30-day trial $55 Unlimited use Windows 20 430 MB 473 MB no
Comodo Internet Security Suite Free $28 Firewall, virus free guarantee, 24/7 support Windows, Mac, Linux 17 70 MB 156 MB no
Malwarebytes Premium Trial 14-day trial $40 Mac/Android  support, real-time protection Windows 25 77 MB 140 MB no
Spyware Terminator Trial $50 Zillya antivirus, security tools Windows 13 9 MB 41 MB no
Microsoft Safety Scanner Free Free Unlimited use Windows 1 149 MB 149 MB yes
McAfee Total Protection 30-day trial $50 Unlimited use Windows, Mac, Linux 15 626 MB 579 MB no
AVG Antivirus Free Free $20 Firewall, anti-spam tools Windows, Mac, Linux 21 263 MB 790 MB no
SUPERAntiSpyware 14-day trial $20 Real-time shield, various scan types Windows 1 34 MB 102 MB no
Avast Free Antivirus Free $20 Online banking protection, PUA protection Windows, Mac, Linux 48 260 MB 873 MB no
Spybot Search & Destroy Free $22 Boot CD creator, secure shredder, antivirus Windows 11 67 MB 218 MB no
Dr.Web CureIT Free $28 Online-shopping and banking protection Windows 27 172 MB 172 MB yes
ESET Smart Security Premium 30-day trial $25 Unlimited use Windows, Mac, Linux 36 96 MB 115 MB no
Spyware Fighter 30-day trial $20 Unlimited use Windows 20 2 MB 21 MB no
SpyHunter Trial $40 Security tools, threat neutralization Windows 30 27 MB 162 MB no

Anti-spyware software

According to Techopedia, anti-spyware is designed to find and remove harmful programs. In turn, spyware is typically installed on a phone/computer in disguise to collect information. With these special anti-spyware programs a user can remove malware that is already hiding on a PC, or use them as antivirus to prevent spyware from installing. We’ve tested top 16 programs (in no particular order) and here’s what we’ve found out.

1. Avira Free Antivirus

anti-spyware

Avira is the company known for providing free antivirus and additional tools to users. With components like ransomware / web / mail protection, though only available in Pro version, it comes with Real-time protection. During our tests it detected and stopped 94% of threats, plus there’s a ‘browser safety’ tool that blocks URLs with malware.

Download Avira Free Antivirus

  • Pros:
  • Fast scan
  • Cloud scan component
  • Modular components control
  • Cons:
  • Web-protection is unavailable
  • License ads
  • Few options for privacy securing

2. Emsisoft Anti-Malware

anti-spyware software

Emsisoft, known to us from the previous anti-malware tools review, has this 30-day free Anti-Malware program that one can use against spyware as well.  It offers various scan types and performs well – it took 30 minutes to scan and showed 94% efficiency during our tests.

It seems the company likes the number 4 – four layers of protection (surf/real-time/behavior blocker/anti-ransomware), four panels in the interface (protection/scan & clean/logs/settings), four types of malware to combat – ransomware, bots, banking trojans, PUPs. 

Download Emsisoft Anti-Malware

  • Pros:
  • Good scan results
  • Detailed statistics and reports
  • Additional features
  • Cons:
  • Missing cloud scan component
  • Big size for installed program
  • All options collected in one window

3. eScan Total Security Suite

anti-spyware programs

Among many security suites, there’s eScan, incorporating antivirus, mail/spam protection, web protection, firewall, privacy control and other tools. In terms of combating spyware, it offers real-time protection against phishing URLs and malicious URLs (though detects roughly ⅔ of threats), file and folder protection, prevention against virus infection of USBs, webcams, SD cards.   

Download eScan Total Security

  • Pros:
  • Apps Container
  • Secure Shopping component
  • Includes portable Comodo
  • Cons:
  • Costly license price
  • Big installation file size
  • Many complicated sub-menus

4. Comodo Internet Security Suite

anti-spyware tools

With a pretty extensive set of security software, Comodo also offers an antispyware program, which is unavoidable for such company in 2018, as it seems. Comodo Internet Security Suite is a free anti-spyware/anti-malware app against common threats, with effective countermeasures.

In practice, there’s just one irritating thing: while installing, study every windows carefully, if you don’t want to end up also installing Comodo homepage, Yahoo search, DNS provider, or Comodo Dragon browser. Seriously, guys?!

Download Comodo Internet Security Suite

  • Pros:
  • Step-by-step scanner
  • Monitor planned scans
  • Not resource intensive
  • Cons:
  • Difficult for beginners
  • Tech support unavailable in free version
  • No privacy security tools

5. Malwarebytes Premium Trial

anti-spyware software

Malwarebytes free version works only for 14 days, so we’ve decided to test the Premium, as Malwarebytes is probably a #1 tool when it comes to anti-malware protection. It is easy to use, while actually and efficiently fighting spyware and other malicious software.

It scans files, registry keys/values, processes, etc., quarantines threats and alerts a user right away. The program applies heuristic analysis. Malwarebytes Premium provides automatic updates, scanning schedule, automatic quarantine.

Download Malwarebytes Premium Trial

  • Pros:
  • AutoScan task enabled by default
  • Different scan modes
  • Low installation file size
  • Cons:
  • No cloud scan component
  • No self-protection
  • High license price

6. Spyware Terminator

free anti-spyware

Honestly, if this hadn’t showed up in search engine results, it wouldn’t be mentioned at all. Spyware Terminator 2015 (yes, that’s in the name) from Czech Republic (though doubtful) performed less than poorly against malware during our test. The scan lasted about 1 minute, while other tools take 30 minutes on average, and found 0 – zero – threats. Not without bemusement, we’ve tried it on another PC and got the same result. The end.

Download Spyware Terminator

  • Pros:
  • Not resource intensive
  • Good for inexperienced users
  • Portable version
  • Cons:
  • Poor test results
  • Many ads
  • Antivirus component unavailable

7. Microsoft Safety Scanner

anti spyware free download

If you’re looking for a tool alternative to standard antivirus and security suites, and you need it for Windows system exclusively, check this. Microsoft Safety Scanner is a little and totally free spyware removal program, which users may run manually, even alongside other similar programs. Basic Windows interface, three types of scan (quick, full and custom), good performance (88%), portable.

Download Microsoft Safety Scanner

  • Pros:
  • Not resource intensive
  • Good for inexperienced users
  • Portable version
  • Cons:
  • No self-protection
  • Making decisions on its own
  • No signatures auto-update

8. McAfee Total Protection

best free anti spyware

Supporting Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS devices, McAfee is an anti-spyware software with extensive reach and functionality. To that point, Total Protection is very similar to McAfee Internet Security, excluding parental control option. In terms of protection against spyware and malware, it adds value with the help of tools like password manager, file lock utility, file encryption system, identity protection service.

Download McAfee Total Protection

  • Pros:
  • Includes firewall
  • Vulnerability scanner
  • Privacy security tools
  • Cons:
  • Intensive resource use
  • No cloud scan component
  • Big installation file size

9. AVG Antivirus Free

anti spyware and malware

A popular antivirus that also serves as a spyware/malware/ransomware scanner, automatic killer of viruses, and all of that could be for free. It also provides defense for web browsing and email, full system scans, boot time scans, and more. ‘Deep scan’ feature could also be used against spyware, and you can set it to check files by content and not the extension. It can even cut through 20 archive file types, e.g. ZIP and RAR.

Download AVG Antivirus Free

  • Pros:
  • Fast scanning
  • Includes antivirus and firewall
  • Low resources use
  • Cons:
  • In basic mode PUA detection is off
  • No cloud scan component
  • User privacy concerns

10. SUPERAntiSpyware

best free spyware removal

In its free version there’s no real-time protection (one has to run scans manually) and no automatic definition updates. However, if you need a tool to remove the spyware that has already infiltrated your PC, SUPERAntiSpyware is great. It scans fast and with full user control of what to scan.

But what is really outstanding, is the option to detect files that have been amended within last 1/5/10 days etc. Then the option to utilize  more CPU to scan faster, to ignore files exceeding 4 MB, to skip files that aren’t .exe. For more go to Supera web page.

Download SUPERAntiSpyware

  • Pros:
  • Affordable license
  • Low resources use
  • Cons:
  • Poor test results
  • No cloud scan component
  • No self-protection

11. Avast Free Antivirus

anti spyware examples

Although it is a general antivirus in the first place, Avast can detect and remove spyware effectively. With many settings one can tweak its performance, e.g. to block unrecognized files, to scan for potentially unwanted programs (PUP) while excluding folders/files/URLs, to inspect wi-fi connections, to clean junk files, to protect mailing, etc.

Download Avast Free Antivirus

  • Pros:
  • Additional security tools
  • Free program
  • Good test results
  • Cons:
  • No cloud scan component
  • Unavailable firewall protection
  • Limited privacy tools

12. Spybot Search & Destroy

anti spyware

Spybot is mainly for advanced users, as it offers a full control over settings and protection parameters. Besides typical remove spyware and scan particular files options, there are plenty of outstanding features. ‘Apply immunization’, for instance, blocks threats in browsers, or disable tracking cookies, scan files of any user on a computer.

Download Spybot Search & Destroy

  • Pros:
  • Big database of malware signatures
  • Registry threat scanner
  • System threat search
  • Cons:
  • Weak file scanner
  • Antivirus module is blocked
  • Defenseless beyond its database

13. Dr.Web CureIT

spyware removal tools

Although it does not offer real-time protection, Dr.Web CureIT tool can disinfect a computer when launched. It includes a set of virus databases and works on that basis. Users should also be aware that this free anti-spyware tool, when scanning, collects and sends statistics and certain data to the publisher. This helps to perfect the program, and includes parameters such as CPU, RAM, operating system, configuration, antivirus, firewall, detected threats.

Download Dr.Web CureIT

  • Pros:
  • Easy in use
  • Good test results
  • Portable version
  • Cons:
  • No cloud scan component
  • Intensive on resources while scanning
  • No self-protection

14. ESET Smart Security Premium

free antivirus anti-spyware

ESET is one of those companies providing a security suite with extra features along with an antivirus as their main product. Smart Security Premium offers file encryption, password manager, home network scanner, and, of course, malware scanning.

In terms of spyware protection it has this fine feature – ‘webcam control’, meaning that users may enable or disable the webcam for certain instances, or specify which programs have access to the webcam. Besides, this suite has all the same features of ESET Internet Security: email protection/spam filtering, banking and payment protection for browser, etc.

Download ESET Smart Security Premium

  • Pros:
  • Fast real-time antivirus
  • Data security tools
  • Anti-theft component
  • Cons:
  • Basic mode ignores containers
  • In-depth scan lasts too long
  • Intensive on resources while scanning

15. Spyware Fighter

best spyware protection

If you deal with specific threats such as trojans, hijacking dialers, keylogger spyware etc., another anti-spyware software in the list is this Spyware Fighter. It is good for Windows systems, has the ‘automatic clean’ feature that removes traces of bad files, startup entries. It also monitors a device in real-time, basically to protect from malware infection.

Download Spyware Fighter

  • Pros:
  • Small size
  • Additional components
  • Easy in use for beginners
  • Cons:
  • No cloud scan component
  • Low privacy & safe tools
  • No self-protection

16. SpyHunter

best anti-spyware

A program by EnigmaSoft from Ireland, who also delivers Total PC Utility, RegHunter, System Medic, etc., and conducts the ongoing research into new types of malware. SpyHunter 5 is essentially an anti-malware tool, with emphasis on constant updates to be able to cope with new threats.

It can detect ransomware, worms, viruses, rootkits, adware, potentially unwanted programs, and other spying software. On the other hand, we can neither praise nor criticize its performance, as we got 39% success rate with it in our test.

Download SpyHunter

  • Pros:
  • Fast real-time antivirus
  • Privacy scanner
  • Detailed explanation of threats
  • Cons:
  • No threat neutralization in trial
  • No cloud scan component
  • Expensive license price

Antispyware features

Now, let’s also compare which key features all those security programs have. For instance, one would argue that real-time protection is crucial for any anti-spyware tool, and still not all of them got it.

Active scanner
(real-time)
Passive
scanner
Automatic
updates
Quarantine Cloud
component
Self-protection Scheduler
Avira Free Antivirus ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Emsisoft Anti-Malware ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
eScan Total Security ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Comodo ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Malwarebytes Premium Trial ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Spyware Terminator ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Microsoft Safety Scanner ✔️
McAfee Total Protection ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
AVG Antivirus Free ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
SUPERAntiSpyware ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Avast Free Antivirus ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Spybot Search & Destroy ✔️ ✔️
Dr.Web CureIT ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
ESET Smart Security Premium ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Spyware Fighter ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
SpyHunter ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️

Performance tests

The third and final part (and probably the most significant one) of review was to conduct spyware detection tests and measure the performance closely. For these purposes we used two standards: the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) and Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO). We installed EICAR files and archives, AMTSO files and archives, then ran each of 16 anti-spyware programs to test the detection. Find results below.

Product Scanning Time
(32GB)
EICAR
Files (2)
EICAR
Archives (2)
AMTSO
Files (3)
AMTSO
Archives (11)
PUA Detection Total
Test
Result
Avira Free Antivirus 00:24:03 2 2 2 11 Y 94%
Emsisoft Anti-Malware 00:30:18 2 2 2 11 Y 94%
eScan Total Security 00:19:42 2 2 2 11 Y 94%
Comodo 00:56:21 2 2 3 10 Y 94%
Malwarebytes Premium Trial 00:53:40 2 2 1 11 Y 88%
Spyware Terminator 00:01:14 0 0 0 0 N 0%
Microsoft Safety Scanner 00:49:53 2 2 1 11 N 88%
McAfee Total Protection 01:26:17 2 2 1 11 Y 88%
AVG Antivirus Free 00:16:18 2 2 1 11 N 94%
SUPERAntiSpyware 00:09:47 1 0 2 1 N 22%
Avast Free Antivirus 00:32:11 2 2 3 11 Y 100%
Spybot Search & Destroy 00:17:44 2 0 1 0 N 17%
Dr.Web CureIT 01:53:23 2 2 3 11 Y 100%
ESET Smart Security Premium 01:49:52 2 2 2 11 Y 94%
Spyware Fighter 00:39:55 2 2 1 11 N 88%
SpyHunter 00:25:58 2 1 1 3 N 39%

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