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Lavasoft's Ad-Aware
Ad-Aware latest logo
Ad-Aware 8.1 Pro Screenshot
Ad-Aware 8.1 Pro running under Windows 7.
Developer(s) Lavasoft AB, Sweden
Stable release 8.1.2 / 2009-11-18; 55 days ago
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Available in Multilingual[1]
Type Spyware removal software
License Proprietary

Ad-Aware is an anti-spyware and anti-virus program developed by Lavasoft that detects and removes malware, spyware and adware on a user's computer. According to Lavasoft, Ad-Aware detects spyware, viruses, dialers, Trojans, bots, rootkits, data miners, aggressive advertising, parasites, browser hijackers, and tracking components.[2]



Ad-Aware was originally developed in 1999 to highlight web beacons inside of Internet Explorer. On many websites, users would see a tiny pixelated square next to each web beacon. This was to warn the user that the computer's IP address and other non-essential information was being tracked by this website. Over time, Ad-Aware added the ability to block those beacons, or ads. Ad-Aware no longer makes the user aware of the ads on the screen, instead the program fights spyware, adware and malware.

In the 2008 Edition, Ad-Aware Pro and Plus were bundled, for the first time, with an antivirus scanner[3], which uses the Avira engine[4] and this is continued in the latest release[5].


The latest Ad-Aware, version 8.1, is available in three core versions: Ad-Aware Free Anti-Malware, Ad-Aware Plus Internet Security and Ad-Aware Pro Internet Security[6].

Lavasoft also offer an Ad-Aware version for businesses, named Ad-Aware Business Edition[7], which is designed for use over networks. It has a central server console interface with licences for Ad-Aware Pro Internet Security to be installed on the networked machines[8].

An Ad-Aware spin-off product aimed at online gamers and entertainment fans, called Ad-Aware Game Edition, is also available.[9]

Each version includes anti-spyware and anti-rootkit protection, as well as integrated real-time threat protection. However, the protection level depends upon the version installed and only the Plus and Pro versions include anti-virus protection.[10] According to Lavasoft, Ad-Aware allows computer users to combat malicious spyware, viruses, and malware; it protects users from malware that takes control of a computer and can result in aggressive advertising pop-ups, sluggish computer activity and stolen private information. The vendors says that Ad-Aware detects hazardous content on a user's computer, identifies the threat level, and then gives the user the ability to block or remove unwanted content.

According to PC World magazine, the previous version of Ad-Aware, the Anniversary Edition, was able to locate only 83.6% of malware in a comparative test by security firm.[11] However, as the article states, no such tests have been run on the newest version.

Market share

Ad-Aware Anniversary Edition, which has now been replaced with Ad-Aware 8.1, is listed as having been downloaded over 339 million times as of November 2009,[12] however since its primary competition is not downloadable from the same location, a comparison of relative market share is not possible with these figures.

The paid versions of the product are under threat from more functional and free competition, which offer antivirus capabilities for free, such as Microsoft Security Essentials.[11]


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