Spybot Search & Destroy 2.0 – Malware Protection Redesigned

Spyware, malware, viruses, rootkits; the list of online threats just goes on and on. There are plenty of tools out there that claim to offer protection but, certainly in the realms of free solutions, it is the same names that crop up time and time again.

Spybot Search & Destroy has long been the malware protection tool of choice for numerous Windows users and the newly released version 2 gives the app a much needed reboot which includes a completely new look, faster performance and a handful of new features.

Introducing Spybot

Spybot Search & Destroy is a tool that needs little introduction – it’s an anti-malware tool that has been with us for many years now. Despite the fact that it has long been one of the most widely used security tools in existence, it has been blighted by an outdated looking interface that belies the power of the app.

Spybot Search & Destroy is free, but donations are encouraged.

Spybot Search & Destroy is free, but donations are encouraged.

During the installation of the program you’re asked how much of a hands-on approach you want to take – this enables you to choose between basic and advanced mode, but this is something you can change at any time from within the program when you are up and running.

The best way to ensure your computer is free from malware is to start with a clean installation of Windows and have your protection software installed before you have even connected to the internet. If you find yourself in this position, you can take advantage of Spybot’s new whitelisting feature to indicate that files in certain locations are known to be safe.

Spybot’s whitelisting feature is useful, but it is something that needs to be used with caution.

Spybot’s whitelisting feature is useful, but it is something that needs to be used with caution.

New Look Interface

The most immediately obvious change to be found in Spybot Search & Destroy is the new look interface. It does not quite mimic the Metro/modern look of Windows 8 apps, but it is a fairly good approximation.

The look of Spybot S&D will be familiar to anyone who has seen the new breeed of Windows 8 apps.

The look of Spybot S&D will be familiar to anyone who has seen the new breeed of Windows 8 apps.

If, like most people will have done automatically, you have chosen to work in the more advanced mode of the program you’ll uncover a series of additional icons on the main workspace, but the Basic Tools section is populated with the same tools whichever mode you decide to work in.

You do not have to work in Advanced User Mode, but you’ll have fewer tools to work with if you don’t.

You do not have to work in Advanced User Mode, but you’ll have fewer tools to work with if you don’t.

In use, S&D is very much what you would expect. The full system scan can take a while, but it is checking for both known threats as well as heuristics. It’s slightly disappointing to find that the rootkit scanner is essentially a separate component – it would have made far more sense to integrate this into the full system scan rather than leaving as an option that is only made available to ‘advanced’ users. For scanning at your fingertips, you have the option of right clicking any file and using the context menu to access various Spybot tools – including scanning individual files, file shredding or running a full system scan.

Rootkit detection is a nice touch, but it’s strange to find that it’s not available in the more basic mode of the program.

Rootkit detection is a nice touch, but it’s strange to find that it’s not available in the more basic mode of the program.

Something Spybot S&D has become famous for is its system immunization, and this is a feature that is still present in the very latest version. This is a simple system which locks down certain areas of your system so that changes cannot be made to them by any malware that may be lurking on your hard drive.

System immunization is a quick and effective way to avoid a wide range of a malware related problems.

System immunization is a quick and effective way to avoid a wide range of a malware related problems.

Elsewhere in the program you’ll find a number of extra tools such as a secure file shredder that can be used to delete unwanted files and then overwrite them up to 35 times. The Startup Tools utility may sound like just another startup manager, but in reality it is one of the most comprehensive utilities of its type – you can easily view every item that is configured to start automatically with Window, including many you probably didn’t even know about and choose which should be allowed to run.

Spybot could reveal unknown startup items that may have unwanted side effects for your computer.

Spybot could reveal unknown startup items that may have unwanted side effects for your computer.

Other Editions

For many people, the free edition of the program should suffice as it offers a decent levels of protection, but there are also Home and Professional versions available for anyone willing to part with some money for extra features.

Spybot Search & Destroy is available in three editions, but the free one is enough for most people.

Spybot Search & Destroy is available in three editions, but the free one is enough for most people.

The Home version will set you back $13.99 and this removes the nag screen as well as adding scanning for iPhones – there’s also scheduling support. If you want to go all out, the Professional version of the program costs $24.99 and this adds command line tools as well as the option to create a bootable live CD and access to the Protected Repair Environment.

Summing Up

Spybot is a well-respected name in the world of computer security, and not without good reason. The latest version of the program may not offer much in the way of ground-breaking new features, but it builds on an already solid base to create something that is even more impressive than previous versions. This is an example of a piece of software that should really be installed on every computer as standard – make sure it’s the first thing you install after Windows and you won’t regret it.


Summary

The best just got better. This is the anti-malware tool that everyone should be using – there’s little more to be said.

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  • http://shanegowland.com Shane Gowland

    Spybot has become rather bloating. Does it really need to create multiple Windows services just to run an on-demand scanner and HOSTS file patcher? Not to mention that it’s at least 50mb bigger than all its competitors products.

  • anita kendus

    am looking for new free spybot search and destroy, had it for years but started having trouble with it, freezing up, not scanning, just a couple of things that went wrong so thought to delete it and want to try it again

  • anita kendus

    just left one comment, now, a question, from this site, how do I find where to download the program

  • Julie W.

    I was very glad when I updated to this version of S&D, as soon as I ran the scans it picked up things that the older version was missing. I like the way it is set even though it took me a few minutes to navigate my way around it. The only draw back is that the Root-kit is separate from the basic scanning features and should have been placed with those scanning features. Other than that I love the new look and I am satisfied with the more up-to-date level of protection and the more thorough scanning ability of this version. Two thumbs up and you will be receiving my donation promptly.

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  • Peter Sanchez

    Thank you, for protecting my PC and getting rid of all the masses of threath level bugs on my computer. I wish that I could spell as well as Spybot cleans and protects and than the World would be a whole lot better,but for now I am happier with SpyBot in the the World. Thank you and I will continue to donate soon!! Peter

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