Just as drugstores have a bewildering number of remedies for the cold or flu, there are many different programs you can choose from to fight virus and spyware infestations on your computer. Malwarebytes and Ad-Aware are two utilities that can detect and rid your computer of malicious software. Although both can help protect your computer, they use different technical approaches and feature sets to accomplish their goals.
Malwarebytes began in 2004 as an attempt by company founder Marcin Kleczynski to remove malware from his personal computer and those he worked on as a computer technician. In 2006, Kleczynski sold his program as the anti-malware utility Rogue Remover. A redesigned and improved version was released in January 2008 as Malwarebytes. Ad-Aware was launched in 1999 by German software company Lavasoft. Ad-Aware was one of the earliest attempts to rid PCs of spyware infesting PCs through the Internet Explorer Web browser.
Malware Detection Methods
Malwarebytes attempts to detect and remove malicious worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers and spyware that affect PCs. Rather than depend upon virus signatures typically used by other anti-virus software, Malwarebytes finds and eliminates threats by looking for unique patterns and behaviors known to be exhibited by malware. Although Ad-Aware began as an anti-spyware only utility, it's now packaged and marketed as an anti-virus tool as well. Rather than scanning for behavior, Ad-Aware works by looking for virus definitions or signatures -- segments of code within in files on your PC or running in system RAM that are identical to parts found in known viruses or spyware.
The free version of Malwarebytes can scan you computer's hard drives and system RAM on demand or on a set schedule. You can use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free to examine files you download or retrieve from CDs, DVDs or thumb drives. The free version also includes a special "chameleon" technology that enables the program to be installed on infected systems. Malwarebytes Pro, the paid version, applies the same intelligent, experience-based computer routines or heuristics as the free version to keep malware from installing and infecting your computer in the first place, but it adds real-time protection and website protection. Automatic updates are only on the paid version.
Ad-Aware Free Antivirus Plus Features
Like Malwarebytes, Ad-Aware Free Antivirus Plus can search for malware running in system RAM and located on storage devices on demand. In addition, Ad-Aware Free interacts with your browser to spot websites and Web pages known to harbor malware. Ad-Aware Free can also let suspected viruses run in an isolated, virtual machine-like sandbox where their activities can be safely observed without actually affecting your system. Ad-Aware Free comes with some thoughtful extra features, such as a game mode, which avoids bogging down the system and enables you to play games or watch movies without being disturbed by alerts; automatic updates and real-time protection. Paid versions of Ad-Aware, including Ad-Aware Personal Security and Ad-Aware Pro Security, add online banking and shopping protection, scam alerts, enhanced firewall protection and real-time email scanning.
Malwarebytes requires at least a Pentium processor running at 800 MHz, with 250MB RAM, 20MB hard drive space and a video card and display capable of 800-by-600 resolution. Malwarebytes runs on 32-bit Windows XP SP2, as well as 32-bit and 64-bit Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. The minimum system requirements to run Ad-Aware are a Pentium processor running at 733 MHz or faster, 512MB RAM and 300MB hard disk space. Ad-Aware will install and run on 32-bit Windows XP SP2, 32- and 64-bit Vista and 32- and 64-bit Windows 7.
- Malwarebytes: Malwarebytes Launches Next Generation of Malware Protection for the Enterprise
- Malwarebytes: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
- VentureBeat: Malwarebytes Quietly Becomes a Big Player in Anti-malware Software
- Lavasoft: The History of Spyware
- Lavasoft: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+
- Lavasoft: Ad-Aware Personal Security
- Lavasoft: Ad-Aware Personal Security
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images