Webroot's Spy Sweeper has been one of the best spyware protectors and removers that we've ever reviewed here at Windows A to Z. Its past versions has received many editors' choice awards and has been at the top of its class every time. Webroot has just updated Spy Sweeper to version 5 and has included many improvements, including a revamped user interface as well as many spyware detecting/protecting features.
The previous version of Spy Sweeper, 4.5, was one of the most downloaded programs on the entire Internet and was certainly embraced as one of the best paid spyware removers and detectors. Yes that's right, you do have to pay for Spy Sweeper, but it's well worth the money if you want solid spyware protection. Spy Sweeper 5 costs about $29.99 to begin with, and after your one-year subscription fee, there's an annual renewal fee that you pay to continue to get spyware detection definitions to update Spy Sweeper. There is a 30-day free trial download, however, to our disappointment, it doesn't remove any spyware that it detects until you pay for it.
The biggest improvement to the new Spy Sweeper 5 is the totally revamped user interface. Webroot spent a lot of time researching and getting feedback on getting the interface just right so it was the most effective for the program and the user. It's got a restyled Home tab, which shows an overview of everything about Spy Sweeper, including your last system sweep, system protection status, and any alerts/news that you may have relating to your system or new spyware on the Internet. The next tab, which is the Sweep tab, shows you details on starting a system sweep to detect and remove any spyware from your system. It allows you to customize what you want sweeped and leads you through the entire process.
The next tab, the Shield tab, is a very welcomed addition to Spy Sweeper 5. Once you click the Shield tab, you'll see an overview of all the "system shields," which are active-protection against common ways that spyware infects your computer. So, it actually attempts to block spyware before it even gets a chance to get loaded onto your computer. You can click on the many shield subtabs themselves to adjust settings for each shield. These shields include protection of the Windows hosts file, your IE cookies and homepage, ActiveX protection, keyloggers (new in version 5), and much more. The next few tabs are Quarantine (shows any spyware detected and put into quarantine), Alerts (shows any alerts about your system or new spyware on the Internet), and Options.
Spy Sweeper 5 includes new system shields, which actively protect your system from spyware threats before they even get a chance to infect your computer.
When you run a spyware sweep, it will show you a detailed list of what it has found on your system and their recommendation for either leaving it alone, placing it in quarantine, or deleting it. This allows even the very novice computer user to easily decide what to do when spyware is found on the computer.
Included with version 5 is a whole bunch of new sweep options to effectively scan your computer for malicious software.
Webroot has also included an option to lower to "noise" and dialog boxes that appear from the startup programs manager, which allows users to easily manage programs that automatically start when Windows does. In past versions, Spy Sweeper has been quite pesky with being a bit overzealous when it comes to blocking programs from starting up at system startup. Now in version 5, it is triggered only when known or suspected spyware tries to configure itself for automatic startup. When this or any one of the system shields blocks a program, a small pop-up appears in the lower-left corner of your screen to let you know that it has blocked spyware or other malicious program from infecting your computer. Webroot did plan to add an e-mail shield, which would scan incoming POP3 emails and remove malware attachments before they ever were loaded into the Inbox. However, this feature didn't make the final release of version 5, but Webroot says that it will include this in a future release of Spy Sweeper.
In numerous tests of Spy Sweeper 5, it was able to detect and block all of the spyware that was either already loaded onto the system or was being loaded onto the system in real-time. This is due to the newly added system shields that really provide a solid layer of protection for your computer. In the new version, Spy Sweeper can now detect and disable keyloggers, which log all keystrokes made on your computer and is a vital tool for computer hackers to get users' passwords.
In conclusion, Spy Sweeper 5 is a very effective program to detect and remove spyware threats from your computer. It is definitely worth the $30 because it provides your computer with real-time protection that is rock solid in detection and removal of these threats. Because of this, our editors have decided to give Spy Sweeper 5 our editors' choice award.
Cons: Scanning can be slow at times