Strengths: Good detection; quick scanning.
Weaknesses: Management could be more flexible.
Verdict: Good scanning and removal capabilities, but the management needs to offer more options if it is to appeal to large networks.
Ad-Aware is probably the best-known anti-spyware product around. For its Enterprise edition, Lavasoft bundles Ad-Aware SE and Ad-Watch client applications, tied together with its Ad-Axis management console.
While not the most in-depth of applications, it provides several important tools, such as centralized updates and the ability to schedule scans on connected PCs. The settings work on a global basis, so you can only update all of your Ad-Aware clients or scan the entire network; you can’t group PCs together, for example, and treat each one individually. You can get round this by installing multiple Ad-Axis servers if you want, but it is not ideal.
Once you have installed the client installation package onto each client, they communicate with the server, and you can get reports emailed to you. You can either specify the server settings manually when you install, or a command line installer will do the job automatically, so you can use login scripts or existing software distribution tools.
The protection is on two levels: Ad-Aware performs a system scan and removes existing spyware, while Ad-Watch monitors your computer and blocks spyware from installing or communicating.
They both share the same signature database, so one update keeps both programs up-to-date. The integration between the two applications is excellent. As soon as Ad-Watch spots spyware, it warns you and passes the file on to Ad-Aware for cleaning and removal. It successfully blocked spyware attempts when we were browsing the internet.
Ad-Aware is one of the best products for scanning. Its scan is thorough and relatively quick. The best thing about it is the reporting that groups together the found spyware; so if one infection has created 130 objects, for example, you will just see the one infection. But you can choose to view all the individual files and registry entries if you prefer.
However, we found that the Threat Assessment Chart, which is supposed to carry more information about an infection, was often blank.
With regular updates and real-time blocking, Ad-Aware Enterprise is a reliable anti-spyware tool, but we wish the management console was a bit more flexible.