Formerly known as Lavasoft, this team of internet security experts has been in the business for two decades now. They started in 1999, and Adaware is their most popular and capable software to date. One of its most significant selling points – it is available both as a free and a paid product. Plus, the potential clients will be pleased by the pricing policy and affordable prices for the two commercial plans.
However, the biggest question is – can Adaware hold its own when compared to industry leaders like Kaspersky and Bitdefender? Does it have what it takes to compete with the best offers on the market, or is it just another average antivirus solution? The company officials claim that it is just as good at protecting your system as the world-famous antivirus tools. Sadly, in real-world tests, it mostly fails and can’t even catch up to Microsoft’s Defender.
In this review, we’ll go over its pricing plans in details, talk about customer support, platform compatibility, system impact, and, of course, extensive tests. You’ll find information about the free edition, the free trials, money-back guarantee, and more. We’ll compare third-party lab test results with our own tests to see how Ad Aware performs in real life.
We’ll also talk about every single pro and con so that you can have a better understanding of what Adaware is all about. It is average at best against malware, doesn’t support Mac or any mobile platforms, and the free version is quite limited. This antivirus also has several strong sides that might make it all worth your while. So, let us figure out what it’s all about.
Adaware Pros & Cons
Can be used alongside other antivirus products
Unlike most antivirus solutions that conflict with each other, Adaware doesn’t have a problem with working alongside similar software. You won’t have to uninstall your existing antivirus and can use Ad-Aware scans to make sure that your system is free of any threats. To elaborate: Kaspersky, Avira, Avast, Norton, and other leading products have a substantial negative impact on performance unless they are the only antivirus software on your computer.
It’s usually the cloud-based tools that do all the processing in the cloud computing that can easily co-exist with more “traditional” programs. That makes Adaware a unique product, and we highly recommend taking advantage of this feature. While it might not be as reliable as the leaders (read more about it in the Cons), it will still be a good idea to use its potential to the fullest.
Comes with a friendly, easy-to-use interface
To learn more about the download-installation procedure, check the “How To Install” section. Here, we’ll focus on Ad-Aware user interface, which is very friendly and easy to navigate. On the main dashboard, you’ll see all the essential options and settings, and all the functions are located on the left side, in the menu. However, most of the software’s features aren’t available with Ad-Aware Free.
You won’t be able to access the advanced stuff until you upgrade to Pro or Total. As an alternative, we recommend giving Web Companion a chance and taking advantage of all the tools that come along with it. The worst thing about the free edition – it’s constantly reminding you that you’re not using one of the premium packages. That doesn’t happen as frequently with Kaspersky, Bitdefender, or even Avast.
We listed all the additional features in the “Extra Features” section further down the review. It will help you to understand precisely what the commercial subscriptions offer and whether you want to pay for any of that or not. Regardless of which Ad-Aware edition you choose, navigation will be equally comfortable and straightforward.
Low system impact, works with older computers
As for the minimum system requirements, to run Ad-Aware, you’ll need up to 2GB of free hard-drive space (which is more than the industry average). The processor should be at least 1.6 MHz-strong; RAM requirements are low: only 1GB. Compared to rival products, this software is on par with the least demanding programs.
It’s important to note that it fully supports Windows 7 (and higher), meaning you won’t have to upgrade to Windows 10 to use it. At the same time, there are many free antiviruses on the market that work even on Windows XP. In that regard, Ad-Aware isn’t the best choice (especially for servers running on older systems). Official support of XP and Vista ended in late 2016.
Still, you’ll be able to use it on hardware that’s been around for more than a decade, and that’s a big pro. Besides, you can switch between two modes: high and low. As the names suggest, high will have a more significant negative impact on performance, but, it won’t take it long to scan the computer. In the low mode, Ad-Aware will require fewer resources to run; yet, scans will be longer than usual.
Fast, easy-to-set scans
Speaking of scans, a full check of the system takes less than one hour. Furthermore, new scans will take +/- 15 minutes to complete. Quick scans are also available, and they only go through the most critical and vulnerable parts of the system. Finally, the users can set up their own, manual scans, and Adaware will scan hand-picked files, folders, and apps.
USB and Registry Startup scans are not available with this antivirus. The good news is – you can schedule scans and “tell” Ad-Aware exactly when the scan should start and what drives/files/folders it should check. You can even set these scheduled scans to run frequently, say, every Friday or Saturday.
Lab test results are not impressive
The leaders in third-party testing didn’t include Adaware in their 2018-2019 tests, and we only have results from 2017. While two years is a long time for antiviruses, the results will still help understand how this product performs in real life. In November 2017, it blocked 95.4% of the malicious files in the AV-Comparatives tests. Two months earlier, in September, the detection-elimination rate was 100%.
As for AV-Test, the last time they ran Adaware through a series of tests was back in 2013. With a 100% elimination rate of known malware and a 97% result in the zero-day malware test, it performed relatively decently. It is important: while 95.4% and 97% might seem like good scores to you, they’re actually not. The leading antiviruses always manage to block 100% of malicious threats and even 0.1% matters.
In our tests, Adaware performed much worse: it blocked only 70% of our malicious samples and reacted only when we tried to copy them. For the malicious URL tests, we used the Pro edition, as Adaware free doesn’t come with protection against phishing (or ransomware). Overall, 65% of the threats were eliminated, which, again, is a very poor result. Summing up, antivirus protection is one of this software’s weakest sides.
Comes with a limited set of configuration options
It is especially true for Ad Aware Free: Pro and Total are more configurable, but still not as versatile as some of the rivals. If you’re a regular user and are looking for essential protection, Ad Aware will be more than enough. However, for a more advanced user, the lack of multiple custom scans will be a bit disappointing (for example, Avast Free is a good pick for that).
The system settings are also quite “modest” and miss several options that we expected to see there. The team’s focus was to create an antivirus that is easy to use and doesn’t intimidate the potential clients with dozens of features and settings. Still, it’s possible to turn off notifications, reset the settings to default, and even add a PIN so that others can’t change the settings.
Not compatible with macOS or mobile devices
Of all the cons, this will be the biggest one for the fans of the Mac OS. While the Mac computers aren’t nearly as vulnerable to malicious threats as the ones running on Windows, that doesn’t matter they don’t need protection whatsoever. Therefore, it’s strange not to see the support of this platform. Mobile devices aren’t supported either, which further narrows the circle of potential clients.
We’re not sure why the developer decided to turn Ad-Aware into a Windows-exclusive product, but it is what it is. To put things into perspective for you, many free editions of popular antivirus products are also only compatible with the Microsoft OS. However, the paid versions, even the entry-level packages, almost always support Mac, iOS, and Android.
True, mobile devices are in even less danger than the Macs, but ransomware, phishing, keylogging, spyware, and other modern-day threats are still there. So, before committing to Adaware, it would be wise to take a look at other options, including the free editions of Avast and Bitdefender, to name a few. Mac, Android, and iOS fully support these products.
Free version is rather limited
Basic real-time antivirus and download protection – that’s pretty much all that the free edition offers. It stops viruses, spyware, and even ransomware; plus, every single downloaded file/folder will be thoroughly scanned before it can hurt the system. The term “real-time” means the antivirus is working 24/7 and is continually checking suspicious activity.
You won’t get a free VPN like with Kaspersky, an extension like with Avast, or ten free additional tools like with Avira. As we’ve been saying, don’t forget to try out these free versions – chances are, you’ll never want to go back to Ad Aware after that.
- Can be used alongside other antivirus products
- Comes with a friendly, easy-to-use interface
- Low system impact, works with older computers (but not systems)
- Fast, easy-to-set scans
- Not impressive lab test results
- Comes with a limited set of configuration options
- Not compatible with macOS or mobile devices
- Free version is rather limited
- 24/7 Customer Support is only available to paying customers
Adaware Pricing Information
Let us take a quick look at the available Ad-Aware packages. With this antivirus, you have a choice between a free edition and two paid options. Here they are:
Adaware Professional Security:
- 1-Year Plan – $36
2-Year Plan – $54, 33% discount
Adaware Total Security:
- 1-Year Plan – $48
2-Year Plan – $72, 33% discount
Both Professional and Total Security packages have a 2-year limit – you can’t buy a longer subscription. Still, you’ll get a 33% discount if you commit to a 2-year plan instead of the 1-year offer. It’s important to note that these prices are valid for one single PC. Adaware allows the users to secure up to ten devices, and, again, the more devices they choose to protect, the bigger discounts they’ll get.
For example, you can get Ad-Aware Pro for five PCs for just 80 dollars, or protect as much as ten PCs for only 130 dollars. Head over to the official website and carefully examine all the available options to find the one that fits you best. We recommend choosing the 3-PC offer, as statistically, it is the most reasonable and commonly used package.
And now it’s time to take a look at Pro and Total and see what each plan has to offer:
Adaware Pro. With the entry-level paid package, you get unlimited tech support, web and email protection, along with a robust firewall. Add an extension that protects against keyloggers, and you’ll get a bargain. It is the most balanced Ad-Aware plan and will be an excellent fit for the average user’s computer running on Windows 7 and higher.
Adaware Total. The ultimate tier is packed with every single tool from Pro and adds three new features. Those include a file shredder, a digital lock, and parental controls. It is 30% more expensive, and, in our opinion, unless you need those extra features, Total is not worth paying top dollar for.
Adaware Free Version
If you’re looking for entry-level protection, Adaware Antivirus Free might be a good pick. It can be downloaded from the official website and installed in less than two minutes (learn more about that in “How To Install”). It is easy to use and doesn’t require you to delete an existing antivirus. However, it is quite limited, and most features are only available with Pro and Total.
We’ll talk about that in more detail in the cons. Right now, it’s safe to say that on its own, Adaware free is too underpowered to rely on it with your security. As a second opinion, an additional scanner to work with your primary antivirus solution, it is ok. But, again, you won’t be 100% secure using only this software.
Ad Aware Trial Version and Money-Back Guarantee
The only Lavasoft product that offers a free trial is Ad Aware Pro (Professional Security). It is the entry-level paid edition, and users can take advantage of a 100% free trial for 15 days. In contrast to Ad Aware Free, it doesn’t have any limits, meaning you’ll get access to every single feature, but only for a short time. To get it, you need to click the “Try It Free” button next to the “Buy Antivirus Pro” option.
Plus, the company offers a standard 30-day money-back guarantee for both Pro and Total. The Money-Back Guarantee means you can get a complete refund within those 30 days. With Adaware, there are no traffic limits – you can use it to the fullest and never worry about violating the terms of the refund policy. To get a refund, you’ll need to submit a ticket, and customer support will contact you to solve the matter.
The same is correct for canceling a current subscription: tell support about it and let them deal with the rest. In our test, both the refund and the cancellation tickets were answered shortly – there were absolutely no problems with anything. Sometimes, the user can do it by himself/herself by logging into the account and manually canceling a subscription. But that option is not available with Ad Aware yet; besides, it’s always better to let the officials handle it.
Adaware Coupons and Discounts
Before we share a list of respected websites where you can get discounts and coupons, it’s important to warn our readers. The thing is – there are enough fraudulent sites on the Internet, and they are known to sell scams instead of real discounts. Therefore, always make sure that you trust them before purchasing something. Right now, you can get legit promo codes on Offers.com, Dealsplus.com, and Couponsplusdeals.com, just to name a few.
In any case, we highly recommend buying your subscription plans directly from Adaware.com; that automatically eliminates the chance of being scammed. Plus, in our experience, no third party ever provides better deals than the company-developer. In most cases, coupon/discount websites pick the best deals from the official website and present them as exclusive deals. Again, make a habit of only giving your money to the legit, official vendor.
Adaware Ease of Use
How to Install
It doesn’t really matter which Ad-Aware edition you choose – Free, Pro, or Total: the installation procedure will be equally simple. First of all, you’ll need to select a plan, and only then download it. On the official website, Adaware Free has a “Download” button right above it; the other two come with clickable buttons that say “Buy.” Once you download the installer to your hard drive, it will only take 2-3 minutes for the installation to complete.
Everything is straightforward – just follow the on-screen instructions, and that’s it. If you want to learn more about the user interface, go to the “Pros” section – you’ll find all the necessary information there, including a detailed review of the scanning options.
Adaware Extra Features
We already discussed the free version and the list of features/tools that come along with it. In this section, we’ll talk about all the additional capabilities of Ad-Aware Pro And Total, the paid editions. The list is quite impressive and includes not only web protection and safe banking/shopping, but also 24/7 support. Let us take a quick look at all the essential extras:
This is Ad-Aware’s phishing protection module: whenever you’re about to visit a suspicious website, a warning message pops up. According to the officials, Web Protection continually updates its database so that it can protect the user against all the latest phishing websites and malicious links.
As the name suggests, Email Protection scans all the emails (including outgoing and incoming) to ensure there are no malicious attachments. If you’re regularly using Outlook (by Microsoft) and are used to storing emails on the computer, this module will be of great help. Additionally, spam messages will also be blocked.
Here we have Ad Aware firewall, which serves as an additional layer of defense. It scans all connection ports 24/7 and immediately closes the ones that can potentially be used to infiltrate the network. There’s also a stealth mode available: with it activated, your computer will become “invisible” on your own home network.
Nobody likes it when ads take half of the browser screen and slow down the Internet. Ad-trackers and “technical scams” can also be quite frustrating for regular users. AdAware’s Adblock is a lightweight, easy-to-use, and effective solution against these threats. Blocking ads is its only function, and it does a decent job of that as an extension for Google’s Chrome.
Sadly, that’s the only browser that Adblock is compatible with. On the bright side, it successfully blocks ads, ad trackers, scammers, as well as ad videos on regular websites and Facebook. Last, but not least, it uses the company’s cloud-scanning technology to deal with emerging ad trackers.
Safe Banking and Shopping
Keylogging is one of the most dangerous threats of our time. Hackers use it to copy logins and passwords and access sensitive data, bank accounts, and more. With this tool, you can rest assured that no cybercriminal will be able to obtain your credentials.
Unlimited Technical Support
As we mentioned in the cons, you won’t get 24/7 customer support with Adaware Free. However, if you bought one of the subscription plans, that will grant you unlimited access to the company’s support agents.
Digital Lock (only available with Ad Aware Total)
This tool provides military-grade encryption that can protect sensitive files from cybercriminals. These can be personal files, corporate data that you don’t want any third parties to have eyes on, banking accounts, etc. The Digital Lock is easy to use, and it is practically unbreakable.
File Shredder (only available with Ad Aware Total)
If you have some sensitive files on your hard drive that need to be deleted permanently, the File Shredder will be perfect for that task. When you remove a file/folder using the standard Windows features, it can be recovered later with the right set of tools. But that won’t be possible when the File Shredder is used.
Parental Control (only available With Ad Aware Total)
These tools are specifically designed to help parents control their children’s online activity. Use them to block certain websites, monitor which sites your kids visit frequently, and more. Compared to rival products, the parental control features in Ad-Aware are quite alright.
Adaware Customer Support
24/7 Customer Support is only available to paying customers
Sadly, this is a fact: if you’ve been expecting to get professional support 24/7, you’re out of luck. As the official website states, unlimited technical and customer support 24/7 are only available with Pro and Total. With that said, free users do get access to the FAQ and the knowledgebase. Furthermore, they can use the ticket system to contact the support agents; it’s just that paying customers will always be prioritized.
On the Support page, you’ll also find a forum, product manuals, and separate sections for the antivirus and AdBlock. You can even upload suspicious files to their website so that the technicians can check whether it’s malware or not. Overall, support is decent, but the fact that free users won’t get 24/7 support is rather strange.
It is it for our Ad-Aware review: we went over all the significant aspects of this antivirus, and it’s time for a verdict. Sadly, compared to other products, it’s not as capable or feature-packed, and that’s true both for the free and the paid editions. You won’t get the same level of protection as with Kasperksy, Bitdefender, and other world-class software.
Furthermore, Adaware is only compatible with the Windows OS (starting with Win 7), 24/7 support is exclusively provided for the premium users, and the free version is overly limited. On the bright side, you’ll get a user-friendly interface, low system impact, and a program that can work alongside other antivirus products. Still, we don’t recommend Ad Aware, as it doesn’t have pros that strongly outweigh the cons. Objectively, it is a weak antivirus and lags behind the leaders.
Adaware Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Ad-Aware Antivirus safe?
As an antivirus product that’s been in development for many years, Adaware is capable of protecting your Windows-run computer from most outside threats. However, compared to some of the more popular rivals, like Kaspersky and Bitdefender, it’s not nearly as impressive. This claim is valid both for the free and the paid editions.
- Is Ad-Aware any good?
It depends on what the word “good” means to you: if it is flexible pricing, a friendly refund policy, and a low system impact, then the answer is yes. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best possible antivirus software, then you’ll be better off with a different product. We’re not saying that Adaware is worthless – far from it. Still, objectively, it is not as strong in lab tests as we’d like it to be. And for an antivirus, protection should always be the #1 concern.
- Is Ad-Adware a virus?
No, as mentioned in the beginning, Lavasoft has been on the market for decades, and they only develop legit antivirus solutions. If you’re running it alongside a different anti-malware program, it might flag Adaware as malware, but that’s nothing to worry about. To be 100% sure, go to the company’s official website and check the list of the available tools (or take a look at our Extra Features).
- What Is Ad-Aware web companion?
It is a free tool, an internet security suite that automatically installs with Ad-Aware. So, make sure to uncheck it if you don’t want to have it on your computer. With Web Companion, you’ll get Ad-blocking, protection against email breaches, and URL blocking. In the future, developers are also planning on adding a VPN for traffic encryption.
It’s important to mention that Adaware Ad Block (the tool that blocks ads) is also available as a separate download from Lavasoft’s website. It is a Chrome extension and can be installed in two clicks. And, just like Ad-Aware, Web Companion doesn’t conflict with other antivirus programs and can work in combination with an already installed product.