Free malware detection and removal
SpyBot Search & Destroy is an application that detects malicious types of programs in your computers, such as malware and spyware. Typically, malware and spyware get into your computer when you visit dodgy websites or click strange links in your emails. This security app protects your PC from these nasty plagues by scanning your entire device or individual files, quarantining detected malicious programs, and providing logs and reports. Note that this program does not aim to replace your antivirus, but rather run alongside it as partners.
Getting started with Spybot
By default, SpyBot Search & Destroy checks for updated malware signatures at the first launch. Updating is a manual affair unless you subscribe to a paid edition. The process takes a while, but it is essential because out of the box, the app doesn’t have any signatures.
This software comes with an intuitive interface. On the main window, you can see three buttons that let you launch a scan, check for updates, or do an immunization. As noted, automatic updates are for paying users. If you use the free version, you need to manually update every time you want to run a scan.
Fast but unreliable scanning
The app offers swift full scanning—usually taking no more than 30 minutes. The scan progress is also different from other similar apps. Whereas most antivirus products scan each file to see if it’s malicious, this one works through a list of spyware and adware to see if they are present on your computer.
The app also offers a File Scan, in addition to the Full Scan. In this feature, you can simply drop the files you want to scan into the module. However, this function of the app is very unreliable as it tags every folder it checks as safe—even though it is clearly full of malware.
This program quarantines every malicious file it finds. To see the quarantined files, you only need to click the Quarantine folder under the Show Details mode. Here, you can review the files as well as the usage tracks. You can remove the quarantined files and even undo the quarantine action. Note, however, that the app cannot remove all of the detected malware.
The immunization tools here allow you to configure your system and browsers to block malware-hosting URLs. This process uses the Windows HOSTS file and redirects these URLs to a local-only URL. With this, no program can connect to them. It also configures your browsers to block these sites.
The program offers to do a customized or full immunization. It also promises to block almost 200, 000 known malware URLs. However, these URLs often live only for a few days, so the blocking will be pretty much outdated after some time. The immunization also is pretty much useless, as it can only block a handful of the malware URLs.
There are lots of better choices
All in all, SpyBot Search & Destroy has a lot of patching up to do before it can compete with other security applications. It fails to catch all the spyware and other privacy risks it claims to detect and remove. Sure, it did detect some malware, but it left behind lots of executable traces. Also worth noting is the fact that it removes the protection of Windows Defender during installation—unless you adjust the configuration. If you are looking for a free product that cleans up your computer, there are other better choices.