In our January 2007 issue Spyware stoppers round-up, Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.0 Beta emerged as our Best Buy. Things have changed for the worse with Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5.


  • Operating system tested on: Windows Vista
  • $30 (about £15) for 1-year subscription

Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 demonstrates excellent behaviour-based detection capabilities, but we were disappointed at how the program struggled to remove adware and spyware from the test PC.

When AV-Test presented Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 with 20 active adware and spyware samples, the program detected 85 percent of their files and Registry entries. When tested on inactive adware and spyware, however, Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 spotted only 26 percent of adware, just over 14 percent of password-stealing spyware and fewer than two percent of banking keyloggers.

Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 did poorly at disinfection, too, cleaning up only a quarter of adware files and Registry entries and 15 percent of spyware files and Registry entries.

Still, Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 excels in behaviour-based detection. It successfully flagged additions to ‘Run’ keys (HKCU and HKLM) and to the Startup folder plus changes to default Internet Explorer start and search pages and the Hosts file.

Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 provides one-click access to its system scan, which, in our tests at default settings, completed in less than half the time of the next-fastest competitor. Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 doesn’t set up scheduled scans by default but says that it may add a setup wizard to the installation process. The company offers phone support between 7am and 6pm each weekday. Antivirus protection bolts on email support at other times for $10 (£5) extra.

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OUR VERDICT

Annoyingly, Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 asked us what to do during installation of four popular browser toolbars (AOL, Das Ortliche, Google and Quero); the other five programs in our round-up deduced that the toolbars were legitimate. Unfortunately, Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.5 just doesn’t perform as well as it used to.