10 free spyware removal tools

Posted on January 13, 2019 By Dennis

spyware removal tools

Have you ever wondered whether you’re being spied on? It’s certainly possible that your creepy neighbor or even the government are spying on you, but there’s there’s also another type of spying you should be concerned about: spyware.

Spyware is a malicious file that hides on your computer and records various types of activity. Spyware can steal your financial information, passwords, and even log everything you type into your keyboard. Worst of all, spyware is typically designed to be difficult to find, so you may not even realize that it’s there if you aren’t using the right antivirus tools.

Thankfully, security software companies have flooded the market with high-quality tools that not only detect but also remove all types of known spyware. Many of these tools are made available to consumers completely for free.

To help ensure your computer is free and clear of spyware, it’s best to download, install, and run a spyware removal tool. Based on my multi-point testing criteria, here are the 10 best free spyware removal tools currently available for Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

10 best free spyware removal tools

From our research, the best free spyware removal tools include:

  1. Panda Free Antivirus (Panda Dome Free)
  2. AVG Free Antivirus
  3. SUPERAntiSpyware
  4. Adaware Antivirus Free
  5. Comodo Free Anti-Malware BOClean
  6. Spybot Search and Destroy
  7. Free Fixer
  8. Norton Power Eraser
  9. Malwarebytes Adwcleaner
  10. Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit

When looking for free spyware removal tools, I explored a few key criteria:

  • Costs (free was a base requirement, but some tools may have hidden costs)
  • Sign-up requirements (e.g., do you need to submit an email address to use the software)
  • Operating systems supported

Below, you’ll find a detailed overview of each of the 10 free spyware removal tools picked for this list, as well as how effectively each one stands up to the simple yet necessary rating criteria.

Panda Free Antivirus (Panda Dome Free)

panda antivirus spyware removal tools

As stated earlier, Panda is one of the best antivirus programs on the market with good name recognition. It has high ratings from independent testing lab AV-Comparative, where it received a perfect 100 on its ability to detect malicious software. That said, it received a relatively poor 60 percent when it came to sending back false positives, an indication that the software takes more of a heavy-handed approach than necessary when identifying potential malware.

Here’s how Panda Free Antivirus lines up to the rating criteria:

    • Cost: Free for life with no hidden fees
    • Sign-up/download requirements: None (asks for optional account creation that can be rejected)
    • Operating systems supported: Windows XP – Windows 10, Android 4.0.3+

The interesting thing about Panda’s free antivirus tool is that it’s about as comprehensive as you’re going to find. Not only does it come fully-featured with real-time monitoring, scanning, and scan scheduling, you also get a limited (but still free) VPN and the option to scan any SD card or USB drive you insert into your computer or mobile device.

The Android version also includes an anti-theft and lost phone location tool that uses your GPS to help you track down your device if it goes missing.

Considering it’s free, does not require any form of sign-up to use, and has features often only found in paid software, Panda Free Antivirus (Panda Dome Free) should be a top consideration for anyone looking for free spyware removal tools.

AVG Free Antivirus

avg free spyware removal tools

One of the biggest names in the security software industry, AVG Free Antivirus tool has been available for over a decade. In that time, the company has added a large number of updates and features, many of which are locked behind a paywall. But you can still use AVG for free to help remove spyware, malware, adware, and other malicious files.

Here’s how AVG stands up to my criteria:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None (asks for optional account creation that can be rejected)
  • Operating systems supported: Windows 7 – 10, Mac OSX 10.8 Lion+, Android 2.2+

AVG Free Antivirus protects multiple devices, including Android and Mac computers. Alongside virus scanning, you’ll also get web protection, either through a dedicated Chrome extension, or an individual AVG secure web browser. AVG’s free tool also allows users to perform different types of scans, including deep scans, boot-time scans for threats that activate prior to Windows start-up, scanning for specific files or folders, and scanning for USB or DVDs.

Independent testing labs give AVG Free over 90 percent in both its ability to detect malicious files and in its ability to avoid sending back false positives.

As an added bonus, AVG Free also picks up and offers warnings for any poorly rated browser extensions you may have installed. This is a beneficial feature, as a poorly rated extension may be spyware or malware in disguise. Considering Chrome cracked down on malicious extensions in 2018, it’s a good idea to consider a free tool that warns you about spyware installed in your browsers.

SUPERAntiSpyware

superantispyware spyware removal tools

It’s fairly clear what SUPERAntiSpyware is all about. This tool was designed specifically to remove malware, with an emphasis on spyware variants. According to its website, SUPERAntiSpyware is designed to remove malware, spyware, adware, trojans, worms, ransomware, keyloggers, hijackers, rootkits and more.

SUPERAntiSpyware fares well with the list criteria:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None
  • Operating systems supported: Windows 8 – Windows 10

SUPERAntiSpyware is extremely effective at doing what it says it will. In fact, during a quick scan, it found adware on my machine that Panda Free Antivirus failed to locate using that software’s quick scan. It also located and sought to remove over 300 tracking cookies, which is also something that Panda’s tool failed to do.

Unlike Panda, however, you won’t get real-time protection, scan scheduling, or automatic updates with SUPERAntiSpyware’s free version. For that, you’ll need the paid version, which the software company offers with a 14-day free trial. That makes Panda a better option if you want to automate your spyware removal and monitoring, even though Panda does miss the mark with some critical files.

Adaware Antivirus Free

adaware spyware removal tools

Although it’s not a particularly well-known tool, Adaware Antivirus Free is a solid option to help remove spyware. Adaware provides paid antivirus solutions, but its free tool includes an antivirus scanner and remover, download protection, and real-time antivirus protection to help prevent any future infections.

Here’s how Adaware Antivirus Free compares to my criteria:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: Requires sign-up and activation code for the free version
  • Operating systems supported: Windows 7 – Windows 10

One more reason why Adaware Antivirus Free is one to consider for spyware removal: you can install the software without the real-time protection. This actually helps prevent software conflicts with other antivirus tools, as it lets Adaware operate solely as a virus scanning and removal tool. Real-time virus protection software tends to require a larger presence on your system, and most real-time antivirus tools cannot coexist on the same system.

Still, Adaware does require an activation code and does require you to submit an email that they can use to later spam you with advertisements to sign up for the full version of the software. In testing, you can actually still load the program without activation.

Regardless of how you plan to use Adaware, you’ll get full, custom, and quick scanning, real-time protection, and scan scheduling.

Comodo Free Anti-Malware BOClean

boclean spyware removal tools

Although a fairly simple program without many additional features, Comodo Free Anti-Malware BOClean offers good spyware removal and some real-time protection against further infections. The software is also well-rated by independent testing labs and other software review sources.

Here are the basic stats on Comodo’s free anti-malware tool:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None. However, seeks to install multiple additional programs, change DNS, and other unnecessary settings changes
  • Operating systems supported: Windows XP – 7

Comodo has a fairly extensive reach as a security company. Its BOClean tool is thankfully simple to use and effective enough for most users. The biggest problem you’ll find with BOClean is that Comodo attempts to make a large number of changes to your computer during the installation process.

During installation, you’ll be asked to install Comodo’s web browser, change your DNS settings to Comodo DNS, change your browser home page to Yahoo!, and a few other unnecessary changes. Additionally, Comodo’s tool will work with Windows 10, but it’s not rated for anything beyond Windows 7, making it a bit of a risk itself.

Beyond malware scanning and removal, BOClean also offers secure shopping and the option to unblock applications that BOClean previously blocked after security scans.

Spybot Search and Destroy

spy bot spyware removal tools

Spybot has a library of antivirus and antimalware tools available. The company’s Spybot Search and Destroy software has several paid versions available with numerous features, while the free version is extremely pared down in comparison. With Spybot Search and Destroy Free, you’ll get anti-spyware (but not more inclusive antivirus) protection, active blocking against unwanted programs and malicious websites, a startup management tool, and a rootkit scanner.

Based on my criteria, here’s what you can expect from Spybot Search and Destroy:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None. However, seeks to install multiple additional programs, change DNS, and other unnecessary settings changes
  • Operating systems supported: Windows 7 – 10

The biggest limitation to Spybot Search and Destroy is that it doesn’t extend to a wider range of antivirus protection with the free version. It limits you to only spyware removal. This, of course, makes it an acceptable option if you’re looking specifically for spyware removal. However, if you want ongoing and more comprehensive protection, one of the other options listed above may be a better choice.

Additionally, Spybot Search and Destroy Free is extremely slow to scan and tends to throw back a good number of false positives. You’ll need to have a good understanding of your file system before you start deleting anything Spybot suggests after scanning.

FreeFixer

spyware removal tools norton power eraser

Free Fixer suits its name quite well. This antivirus tool is a freeware option designed to help remove a selection of unwanted programs. That includes spyware, adware, viruses, and other computer-infecting bugs. Don’t expect a wide range of additional tools and features with this one, however. FreeFixer’s sole purpose is virus removal, so you won’t find any real-time protection against future infections.

Here are the basics on FreeFixer:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None.
  • Operating systems supported: Windows 2000 – 10

FreeFixer gives you the option to have scheduled scanning, although it limits that scheduling to once a day. You’ll need to select that option during the installation process, as you can’t implement it in any of the settings post-installation.

You’ll find that FreeFixer does not scan your entire file system. Instead, it only focuses on areas where potentially unwanted programs typically get installed. The software also includes the option to delete files based on exact file paths, and a system file checker for administrators to check protected files.

Fair warning: You cannot quarantine files with FreeFixer. If you want the option to quarantine before deletion, you’ll need to pay for FreeFixer Pro. That does not mean you won’t be able to choose what to delete first. However, any potential viruses that FreeFixer finds won’t be quarantined and therefore may still cause problems if you fail to delete them (and the viruses may actively work to prevent scanning and deletion).

Positively, FreeFixer identifies files across a large number of categories. It will tell you when something is whitelisted. However, it leaves a lot of removal up to your discretion, so it’s not the best option for those who need the tool to make more informed decisions on what to delete.

Norton Power Eraser

spyware removal tools norton power eraser

Norton Power Eraser is an extremely targeted tool. Unlike some of the other free spyware removal options, Power Eraser was designed solely to find and remove what Norton calls “crimeware”. This will include any malware designed to steal data, meaning Norton Power Eraser is not the best option if you’re trying to remove more benign spyware, such as tracking cookies and some adware.

Here’s the primary information for Power Eraser:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None
  • Operating systems supported: Windows – Unspecified version requirements, but works with Windows 10

Although it’s limited to just scanning and removal, it’s important to remember that this is indeed a Norton tool. As a result, it’s of extremely high quality, and with a few good features. You can do a normal rootkit scan, scan for unwanted programs, or performed one of three specialized scans (reputation scan on files and folders, system scan, and a multi-boot scan for computers running multiple Windows operating systems).

Because it’s so targeted, you’ll find scan times are quick. Norton Power Eraser allows you to undo any changes you’ve made in case you accidentally delete a critical file. You can also create a system restore point using the tool to backtrack on all changes after a scan and removal process.

Malwarebytes Adwcleaner

spyware removal tools adwcleaner

Malwarebytes has a few free tools that work well to remove various types of spyware. The company’s Adwcleaner is one of the best on the market, although, as the name suggests, it’s singular purpose is to find and remove adware. That being the case, if you’re dealing with an adware problem, it’s a fairly easy decision to go with this tool.

Here’s how Adwcleaner lines up to my criteria:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None
  • Operating systems supported: Windows 7-10

Adwcleaner is almost as simple a spyware removal tool as it gets. You scan for adware, quarantine files, and view your scanning log if needed. A few additional settings let you adjust what the software does. That includes the option to create a debug log, and a long list of actions the program can take during the repair process such as resetting your firewall, proxies, and Chrome policies, among others.  Perhaps the most interesting part of this tool is that doesn’t require any installation. You simply download the program and run it.

Because it’s only looking for adware variants, Adwcleaner runs quickly on any operating system. You’ll find it locates files you probably don’t need to delete, such as extensions, but you’ll need to make the final decision on what to delete.

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit

spyware removal tools anti-rootkit

With any luck, you won’t ever need Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit. However, if you have some particularly vicious rootkits embedded in your file system, it may be necessary. Given some of the tools above won’t get rid of everything, Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit may be worth the install.

Here are the basics on this tool:

  • Cost: Free for life with no hidden costs
  • Sign-up/download requirements: None
  • Operating systems supported: Windows – Unspecified version requirements, but works with Windows 10

Unlike Malwarebytes Adwcleaner, you do need to install Anti-Rootkit. This is mostly because the tool needs to dig pretty deep into the operating system and try to mimic and take over key parts of your Windows installation.

Anti-Rootkit takes a bit longer than you might expect to scan. Part of that is because it’s thorough and checking a rather extensive area of your file system. However, it should be noted that this software is not current. At this time of writing, Malwarebytes has not updated its database of known rootkits since 2017. The tool itself is still in Beta, so it’s best not to expect perfect results.

What is spyware? What types of spyware exist?

“Spyware” is a blanket term for any type of malware that’s designed to hide on your computer and then steal data. That data is often sent back to third parties surreptitiously and typically utilizes your internet connection to transmit without your knowledge.

In reality, there are many different types of spyware that consumers should be concerned about. These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Adware: Often creates pop-ups on a users’ computer
  • Keyloggers: Discretely records and transmits everything typed onto the keyboard
  • Pornware: Like adware, but inserts porn pop-ups on an infected computer
  • Hijackers: Modifies users’ web browser settings, including the home page.
  • System monitors: Monitors and transmits activity on an entire computer system
  • Cryptominers: Steals system resources to mine cryptocurrency
  • Rootkits: Allows another user to gain access and control over an infected device
  • Tracking cookies: Tracks and records browsing activity across the web
  • Trojans: Disguises itself as legitimate software in order to infect a computer, often creating backdoor access.

Some real-time antivirus tools will automatically block all types of spyware and any type of communications spyware tries to send or receive. For example, Panda Antivirus has a real-time antivirus tool that’s rated well by independent testing labs and effectively blocks malicious software before it can actually cause any damage to a users’ computer. Panda also has a free tool that can be used to detect and remove software.

Overall, there are a large number of tools designed specifically to remove spyware or any type of malware in general. It’s important to remember that free tools are often pared down, free versions of more extensive paid software. The hope is that you’ll clear your computer using the free tool, and then go on to pay for the paid software (not required).

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