First launched back in 1999, Ad-aware was one of the earlier specialist antispyware tools, and the program quickly became a worldwide favourite. Eleven years on, and there's considerably more competition in the PC security market, but Ad-Aware has grown considerably too: if you've not used the program for a while (or perhaps ever), then it's definitely worth taking for a spin.

Ad-Aware Pro is no longer just about blocking web-based spyware, for instance. It now includes a powerful antivirus engine, and an e-mail scanner that checks every incoming message for malicious attachments and images. There's even a complete rootkit detection and removal system, for maximum protection against the widest possible range of threats.

Being able to remove viruses is good, but of course it's much better to avoid infection in the first place, and Ad-Aware Plus now employs many additional technologies to help keep your PC malware-free.

For example, the new Download Guard for Internet Explorer watches the files you're accessing, and alerts you to potential threats during the download process. Real-time monitoring blocks known malware before you can run it; Genotype examines threat signatures to more accurately detect new variants of the same core malware; and a heuristics module looks for programs that are behaving suspiciously, helping the program detect even brand new and unknown threats.

Of course no real-time protection comes with a 100% guarantee, so you're also able to run manual scans on everything from individual files and folders, to full drives, your choice of PC areas (just executable files and the Registry, say), or your entire system. And a powerful scheduler will set up scans to run automatically at the day and time you specify.

There's plenty on offer, then, but a revamped interface ensures it's all very easily managed. If you prefer the hands-off approach then you can run the program in Simple Mode, where it uses recommended settings and you've really nothing to do. Or, if you like to have fine control over what's happening, switch to Advanced Mode and you'll get full access to every Ad-Aware Plus option.

This is the brand new Ad-Aware 8.2 which ships with an email scanner so you can check attachments for malware, rootkit detection, as well as a much faster engine so system scanning takes a shorter period of time than previous versions.

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Powerful antivirus engine and advanced real-time protection mean Ad-Aware Plus is now a strong all-round antimalware contender. Well worth a look