Best Free Adware-Spyware-Scumware Remover

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NB. This freeware category is as of 2019/04/04 under new editorial management, and is therefore right this moment, subject to a complete overhaul.


The Internet is a dangerous place to be in the 21st century. Unscrupulous people using malicious software are finding ingenious ways to access your information or lead you into spending money. Spyware harvests information from your computer with keylogging and data capture techniques, while adware tracks your browsing habits and tempts you with popup ads related to websites you have visited.

With every new generation of malware (adware, spyware, virus, rootkits, trojans), there will be a new generation of software to combat it. Gizmo's offers many useful articles and reviews to help today's computer user obtain the necessary tools to combat the virtual foe. This category will look at adware and spyware removers.

The following products have been reviewed for this category:

  • Spybot - Preventor, Remover
  • SUPERAntiSpyware (SAS) - Remover
  • Malwarebytes - Remover
  • SpywareBlaster - Preventor

Discovery: All these programs will perform manual scans, but some will not provide real-time scanning protection unless you upgrade to the paid version. Some are removers, some are preventers. It was difficult to find a free program that combined all the components. The winner in this category is Spybot for its removal and prevention ability in a free program. SAS found more to remove, however it doesn't offer real-time protection.


Rated Products


A malware remover designed for basic use yet offers information for advanced users

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Real-time protection, protects one or more user profiles.
Scan didn't detect malware coded file, does not uninstall cleanly.
Read full review...


Detects and removes malware without real-time protection in the free version

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Simple functional menus, good cookie tracker, supports all browsers.
Free version doesn't offer real time protection, only scans.
Read full review...

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free  

Malware detection and removal software but the free version doesn't offer real time protection

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Detected files other programs missed, light and simple.
No real-time protection, no scheduling.
Read full review...


Prevent and protect from the installation of adware, spyware and scumware

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Customizable block lists, doesn't use system resources by running in the back ground, does not affect browser performance or conflict with other software.
Not a removal tool, must update protections after updating lists.
Read full review...

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This software category is maintained by volunteer editor George.J Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.


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SpywareBlaster 5.5 was released on 2016.05.19; here is the changelog:

- Enhanced Windows 10 support
- Enhanced Google Chrome support
- Enhanced Mozilla Firefox support
- Improved Windows 10 Insider builds support
- Improved support for the latest versions of Google Chrome
- Improved support for the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox
- Fixed issue that could have prevented the UI from opening in certain rare cases
- Numerous other bug fixes, optimizations, and tweaks

I used Spybot and noticed that it marked several registry entries (mainly from DBpoweramp music converter) as malware (?), but they are not. and also flagged some bookmarks as malware and they are not.

The software even in the basic mode (not advanced) is very complex to use for the average user.

So I guess that Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free and SuperAntySpyware are still the best ones

SpywareBlaster 5.4 has been released!

-Enhanced Google Chrome support
-Enhanced Mozilla Firefox detection & support
-Enhanced Windows 10 support
-Improved detection of Google Chrome.
-Improved support for the latest versions of Google Chrome.
-Improved handling of Google Chrome on Windows XP.
-Improved detection of Mozilla Firefox profiles.
-Improved support for the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox.
-Improved support for the latest versions of Pale Moon.
-Numerous other bug fixes, optimizations, and tweaks.

All four of the suggested software tools for removal of adware/spyware in your selection guide require installation on your computer "Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer". I am travelling, have picked up an adware infection that keeps popping up on my computer but I don't have my admin password & ID with me. Is there a tool that I can connect to on-line that scans & will remove it without me needing to install anything as I cant at the moment?


THis is what Sophos says about the threat

Virus Name: McAfeeGW: Heuristic.BehavesLike.VBS.Exploit.A
File Name: set_inf2.php
Filter Name: HTML Filter

Hi Miss Souza, you can try ESET Online virus scan. If you run it using Internet Explorer, it will run in the browser. The spam filter in this site blocks the link for it when I post it. Search for the webpage using Google and click the link on the left side. Good luck.

You can also try this tool. Try it first.


Thanks Bo for your swift response.

Unfortunately the adwcleaner requires me to download & I need administrator priveleges - so can't use it.

Even the ESET virus scan (though on-line) initially requires that I have administrator priveleges to download an active-x control - as stated in the help below:

"Need assistance with ESET Online Scanner?
ActiveX controls are programs that use Microsoft's architecture for running applications through Internet Explorer. The ESET Online Scanner is implemented as an ActiveX control, which means you must first download and install it before the program can be run through the web browser. To install or uninstall the ESET Online Scanner ActiveX control, you must have Administrator privileges"

Any other ideas? - I really appreciate your help

Just an update here on the SPYBOT listing. SPYBOT no longer provides real-time protection!

You have to buy SPYBOT to get that perk. Spybot will allow malware and spyware to access your computer in the free-ware version. It will only be removed if you scan your system and find it.

Bummer! SPYBOT use to be top of the line. But now they won't protect unless you pay.

i think the reviewer was indicating that the immunization feature was the real time protection. and i guess, it kinda is (but not in the traditional way you'd usually think of it - as real time scanning with the engine, etc).

USE THE OLDER SPYBOT FREE VERSION WITH TEA TIMER. must have tea timer to have REAL-TIME protection. it downloads up to date definitions in the main spybot window as well as immunizes and scans and fixes (deletes) any found ads. also use adwcleaner. it found a lot that no other software found. thanks for that gizmo. i hadn't heard of it (or just havent used in years and forgot). tea timer is the real deal. i use scotty winpatrol but it is spotty performance. tea timer works every time.

how about window defender (the original spyware one, not the new antivirus). it comes free with windows 7 (and xp), has auto updates and real time protection and free cleanup. gives download scanning etc.

and i agree with another poster, ADWCleaner is sweet.

(i don't consider malwarebytes an antispyware?? but maybe that's just me)

Ah I see, thanks for the explanation.

Malawarebytes Free identifies very few tracking cookies, even on Threat Scan, whereas Spybot identifies lots. I am using the default settings for both programs.

Most antimalware programs will not flag tracking cookies because they are neither malware, nor a threat, but a privacy issue. You can control these items with browser extensions such as Ghostery and Privacy Badger. MC - Site Manager.

It seems I was wrong about Spybot, on one hand it is too aggressive in that it appears to delete a lot of saved user names and such like.
On the other hand it missed OpenCandy, SearchProtect, Trovi and Clientconnect - all of which were detected and quarantined by Malawarebytes free edition.

Has anybody used ADWCleaner? I'd love to see some efficacy tests on that package.

Some good things have been said about it.


I have used ADWCleaner on more than a couple of occasions. I haven't kept a physical copy in order to avoid conflicts with Microsoft's latest system protection technology.

It always works for me, so far. Not sure what happens in the registry. Be careful to get from a clean site.

It's also very quick to install and to do what it does for your immediate problems.

I am probably going to add to my s/w folder for a little while. Just used it last 08/19/2014. It fixed my problem removing browser highjacker istart123. That stuff is nasty.

If you haven't already used it by this msg date, I would advise you to try it and report your results.


It's not a full fledged anti-spyware. It's target is mostly toolbars, adware, etc. You can read that in the description at BleepingComputer itself.
MalwareBytes Free and Kaspersky Removal Tool wins The AV-TEST BEST REPAIR 2014 AWARD The best antivirus software in terms of repair: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free The best clean-up tool after an infection: Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool

Hi. I had picked up some annoying adware and was trying all sorts of programs to eradicate it.

This adware was opening new windows, telling me my explorer program was out of date (my explorer automatically updates and checks daily) now etc. for every other keystroke!!! if it wasn't telling my explorer and or chrome browser was out of date it was telling me my Java or Shockwave or media player was out of date. all to get me to download something.. I did not fall for it. It just made me more determined to find a program to eradicate it.

Norton couldn't find it.
Norton's Power Eraser couldn't find it.
Microsoft's spyware program couldn't find it. (despite a deep scan which took more than 24 hours to complete)
Spybot couldn't find it.

Malewarebytes... I had used up my trial program months ago.. thank you for telling me how to reinstall it and bypass the trial.

Malewarebytes found and removed all the annoying PUPs! and now I am free of this crazy annoying adware along with a few others it found and removed.


Good to know you got it sorted, Deb. For future reference, you might like to consider installing the free version of WinPatrol which will alert you to many of these things before they have a chance to take root on your system. More related information here. MC - Site Manager.


In the review of Spybot it said that it offers real-time protection, but with the version I've installed - the latest - this option is only available for the paid product.

Is it possible to get this with the free version?

Thank you


I will review spybot tonight, and let you know.
Run the immunization feature.

Hi joeguru,

Does this equate to real-time monitoring? or is it something the user needs to update by regularly checking your immunization status?



It used to but apparently things have changed. I will have to review the program again and update the information. However the information currently posted applies to the version reviewed, not older or later versions. Thank you for the feed back.

Malwarebytes was updated to version

The rootkit scan is now included in the program without an additional download, but it is not enabled by default in the settings. :)

Is there any (free) application able to protect us against the following threats (spyware / malware)?:

CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE - which is used to take over a targeted computer's microphone and record conversations taking place near the device
GUMFISH - which can covertly take over a computer's webcam and snap photographs
FOGGYBOTTOM - which records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts
GROK - which is used to log keystrokes
SALVAGERABBIT - which ex-filtrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.

The above mentioned programs are designed to circumvent all known encryption tools by capturing the information before it's encrypted.

More about these little-monsters, here:

What do you advise us to do? How can we protect our PCs against such "impossible to detect menaces"?

We are unable to respond to individual support requests here in the comments sections. Please transfer your post to the section of our forum linked below where it will gain better coverage and the responses kept in chronological order. Thank you.

I just installed Malwarebytes only to discover that it is really only a free 14 day trial. Did I do something wrong? Is there really a totally free version?