How To: Buy Anti-Spyware

Anti-spyware 'scareware' warning

Read this before you buy Internet-advertised anti-spyware.

  • Many internet-advertised anti-spyware products are 'scareware'.
  • They cause alarm over minor issues in order to encourage purchase.
  • Such products are completely ineffective against serious spyware infestations.

This article points out the dangers of buying internet-advertised anti-spyware. Don't be tricked into buying "scareware". Choose a product that has been around for years and is recommended by leading independent magazines and reputable websites.

If you are looking to buy anti-spyware software then you have probably found already that there are dozens of products to choose from. But how can you decide which is the best anti-spyware?

Most anti-spyware products on the web have free trial downloads, allowing you to try before you buy. But beware! Free trials are being exploited by unscrupulous software developers to trick you into buying inferior products! Some of these "scareware" products display fake infection warnings or alarms about trivial issues such as cookies in order to get you to purchase them!

Anti-spyware reviews

Many websites carry reviews of anti-spyware products, as you will find if you search the web for "antispyware reviews". But these review sites are often biased in favour of "scareware". Many sites we have seen recommend the products that earn the reviewing site the highest commission, regardless of their actual performance.

As a general guide, if a website contains nothing but anti-spyware reviews, its recommendations are unlikely to be trustworthy.

False claims

Spyware removers present a great opportunity for unscrupulous vendors. If someone has a problem with their computer that they don't know how to solve, they will willingly pay for a solution. But the effect of spyware isn't always obvious, and in some cases not noticeable at all. This has allowed software developers to create products that generate false spyware alerts which trick unwitting users into buying the product to remove the alleged spyware. We call these products "scareware".

At we are constantly looking for new products that we can recommend, including anti-spyware products. We find that a great many of the spyware removers we test produce a high number of false alarms. Many of these same products are also very bad at detecting real malware. These sub-standard products are widely promoted on the Internet and many people, not knowing any better, end up buying them.

For legal reasons we can't name the products we consider to be deceptive. We simply refuse to sell them. But it is clear to anyone with any experience in this area that people are making money from products that are actually quite poor at detecting and removing real spyware, solely because of the false claims they make about spyware infestation.

Independent verification

One website that has established itself as enough of an authority to be able to name and shame poor anti-spyware products without fear of litigation is Spyware Warrior. One of the most valuable resources on this site is the Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products & Websites page. It currently lists around 200 products that use scareware tactics to encourage sales. The page also lists a further 50 or so lesser known products that should be avoided simply because they are poor performers. Don't buy an unknown anti-spyware without first checking this page.

Anti-spyware or anti-virus?

Spyware has only been a problem in recent years, since the widespread use of the internet, whereas PC viruses have been in existence since 1986, so anti-virus software has been around longer than anti-spyware. Both are a pest, and to many people it seems an unnecessary waste of resources and expense to have two separate products running on a computer when one could do the job of both. Technically, there are differences between viruses and spyware, and some anti-virus products were not well designed for detecting and removing spyware. But today, more and more products are combining the two functions, resulting in better value for the user.

Our recommendations

If you want to give your computer the best protection against spyware, we would recommend one of the following products:

Why should you trust our advice any more than other sites on the Internet? That's a good question!'s owner and author of all the reviews and articles, Julian Moss, is a former computer magazine journalist, and Tech-Pro Limited is a British registered company. You can find out more about us on the About Us page. Don't buy security software from a site whose owners hide their identity!