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Important Update For Ad-Aware SE Users

Microsoft Windows users who rely on Ad-Aware SE Personal (the free version) to protect their machines from spyware and adware should be aware that Lavasoft, the company that makes the popular program, stopped shipping updates for the software after Dec. 31.

People who want to continue using Ad-Aware can upgrade to Ad-Aware 2007. The free version of that program is available here (the installer for the new version should automatically remove older Ad-Aware versions). Ad-Aware Plus and Professional users (as well as enterprise customers) will still be able to retrieve definition updates, according to a clarification posting on Lavasoft's user forum.

Ad-Aware 2007 includes a couple of important changes, notably the dropping of support for any Windows operating system prior to Windows 2000. It also runs Ad-Aware as an ever-present Windows service, which strikes me as a curious decision, since my impression is that most Ad-Aware users use the program for on-demand scans rather than any kind of real-time detection. At any rate, Lavasoft explains its reasons for this change here.

I'd be interested in hearing from readers who are experimenting with the new version, as I haven't used anti-spyware software in close to two years now. I run my Windows systems under a "limited user" account for everyday use, which in my experience pretty much eliminates the threat from adware and spyware.

For those folks who feel that dealing with a limited user account is too much of a pain (some applications simply don't work well under limited user accounts without some serious tweaking), a similar and less restrictive solution is to use "Drop My Rights," a program that helps you set up your most commonly used applications so that they cannot be used as a conduit to change system settings or install additional software.

By Brian Krebs  |  January 7, 2008; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  New Patches  
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I followed the link to Lavasoft Q&A and there is way too much to understand about this program. May revisit in six months when sp2 available. Not interested more programs running in the background, especially at startup. Maybe I'm just a wimp.

Posted by: Bud | January 7, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Brian, I created limited user accounts for myself and family. Now the Windows Media Player will play streaming audio only on the administrator account. What "serious tweaking" is required? Thanks,

Posted by: Larry T | January 7, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse


I find Lavasoft Ad-aware 2007 PLUS [not free] has Ad-watch which actively intercepts cookies, etc as they are being put one browser.

Since these cookies are being actively intercepted, they do not show up in either Adaware scans, or Spyware Doctor scans.

Ad-watch is only available with the Plus or Pro versions, both of which are fairly inexpensive, especially PLUS.

Ad-aware is the best spyware program that I have used, it ALWAYS finding more cookies than Spyware Doctor.

Posted by: brucerealtor | January 7, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I was all set to download the new version until I read that it's always running. I don't want that. I guess I'll just rely on Spybot from now on. (In addition to the limited user account, a firewall, and antivirus, of course.)

Posted by: A | January 7, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Between business and personal PCs, I have 10+ PCs running in limited user mode. I've gone six months or more before running Spybot and Ad-aware on some of these PCs and the test results have definitely proven "limited" privilege benefits -- nada spyware or other malware.

Switching to XP limited user accounts has been remarkable in terms of protection. For some of those local desktop apps that don't like limited users, we've used the right-click command "Run As" or used the freeware "Raise My Rights" to get them to perform.

All the PC's have the added protection of AVG anti-virus, plus the Firefox browser with the "No-Script" plug-in. These additional security layers are probably overkill since the limited user protection is enough.

Regarding the new Ad-Aware process that is always on, we will probably eliminate using Ad-Aware on our PCs for that simple reason.

Posted by: Jim | January 7, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Just read your article about installing the new version of AdAware free 2007 .
I have Vista Home Premium .

Is there any reason why I cannot go to msconfig , startup , and uncheck it to keep it from running in the background?

My first PC so this may be a dumb question

Posted by: Jorine | January 8, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

So that explains it! I have been trying to update my Personal version to no avail for the last 43 days. I always get a message of 'error in retrieving update.'

I had a problem with Ad-Aware 2007 because I can't take it off my tray. I eventually uninstalled it and continued using SE Personal without the updates.

But now it is inevitable; I have to reinstall Ad-Aware 2007.

Posted by: arnel | January 8, 2008 1:42 AM | Report abuse

I use Ad-Aware only on my BartPE disc of last resort. I trust Spybot much more. Lavasoft has had a history of backing down when spyware/adware companies sue them, so I don't trust them anymore and I only use them as a tentative backup to Spybot.

Posted by: David Larsen | January 8, 2008 4:40 AM | Report abuse

To fix the "Error retrieving update" problem, you need to download the latest version of Ad-Aware SE(yes there is an updated one of the 1.06r1 that they don't seem to advertise). I know you can download it directly from lavasoft but I can't find the link so here's a different one
Then you need to manually download the definitions from here:

The guide to installing them is available here:

This fixed my problem with the "error retrieving update".

Posted by: Stern | January 8, 2008 4:59 AM | Report abuse

I do not reccommend anyone install adaware 2007 because if you turn off it's constant background services it will fail to work. Also it will only detect 50% of common spyware and will remove even less, what good is that? Be careful if you uninstall it as it leaves some services running afterwards which are very difficult to remove...

Posted by: Bob | January 8, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Cnet said the new version doesn't catch enough spyware. I downloaded AVG's free anti-spyware program instead.

Posted by: Heron | January 9, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I do most of my surfing with a limited user account, but find that a few tracking cookies are still found by the several on demand anti spy-ware programs I run. Spybot S&D inoculate and SpywareBlaster stop most of them, but a few still show up on scans from other products.

Posted by: Mike | January 13, 2008 4:17 AM | Report abuse

I just installed Ad-Aware 2007, and scanned my computer. Nothing serious was flagged. In the low risk category, some tracking cookies and such were flagged, and I told the program to delete them.

The program seems to work pretty good. No serious problems were encountered. Thanks for the tip that it was time to update.

Posted by: Mike | January 14, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I already tried Ad-Aware 2007 and thought it was a very poor "update" as compared to SE. SE was totally configurable for drives, files, etc that you want to scan, and it was fast. 2007 is slow and you can only scan every file on your PC whether you want to or not. Time to switch to AVG Anti-Spyware Free Edition!

Posted by: Tom | January 18, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

So what about those of us that are stuck (or even prefer) earlier versions of Windows? We're left up in the air with nothing. I use Spybot S&D but it takes so much longer than the quick-scan of Ad-Aware SE that I hesitate to run it as often as I ran Ad-Aware. I used to run Ad-Aware once a day and follow up with Spybot once a week. Now that procedure is shot.

Posted by: paularoid | January 19, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

I installed Ad Aware and find it just terrible compared to SE I did a long scan and after over 3 hrs. shut it down as it seemed stuck. The 11 ppg. tutorial I printed leaves me quite daunted. There has to be a better system than this. I used to run SE daily, and hate this.

Posted by: Ann | January 20, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Why is this news?

Posted by: reuben kincaid | January 24, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree with "A | January 7, 2008 06:27 PM " exactly. The last thing I need *on top* of Norton, is another drain on my system resources running in the background and slowing things down. "I demand they bring back on-demand scans!"

Posted by: Pete | January 25, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

You can still use Ad-Aware SE Personal, but you have to update manually. Download extract the files to your ad-aware program directory. A pain, but allows you to use current defs on a Windows 98 system, for instance. The new software only supports back to Windows 2000. That download location will always have the most current definition file.

Posted by: Fяεεdom | January 29, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Thanks so much, Pete! I used the "manual download" trick at the link you provided, and it just updated my SE definitions to 28.1.2008! I run Windows 98, and I'm very annoyed when software vendors cynically try to bump us off before we die a natural death. 'Same to them"! FWIW to Paularoid: I also run Spybot regularly, and I value BOTH of these utilities. Just let Spybot do its thing overnight, and it should be all set in the morning. No problem at all.

Posted by: Dana Prescott | January 31, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Just to correct the record: that very helpful information actually came from "Freedom". I simply read the wrong author credit line in the posts at the bottom of the page. Props where due! (And the "fix" works perfectly -- I highly recommend it to all the other loyal Win98 users!)

Posted by: Dana Prescott | January 31, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

the apple iphone are brand new and comes with a complete accessories along with an 18 months warranty

Posted by: WALE COLE | February 1, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

the apple iphone are brand new and comes with a complete accessories along with an 18 months warranty

Posted by: wande | February 1, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Hi folks,
I followed the proceeding Stern showed to prevent "Error retrieving update" problem, but even if AdWare is uploaded now with 28.01.2008 definiions, that "Error retrieving update" problem still remains (while before AdWare alerted that it was uptodated).
And I run WindowsXp! Is anything I can do to automatically update defintions or WindowsXp suffers the same problems as versions before W2k?

Posted by: AT | February 3, 2008 5:11 AM | Report abuse

Hi Brian, How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood ?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 3, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Hi Jay Leno here, I was just wondering if you have the time, I forgot my watch at home ?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 3, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I have used Ad-Aware and recommended it for many years to others. The new version is not workable, and I regret that I am limited to using spybot. It is somewhat sad, and unfortunate. Pass it on.

Posted by: sandrews | February 6, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

I installed the new version Ad-Aware because of the update issue, however, the 2007 version using Smart Scan takes forever also locks and you cannot close the program. Got an email to ask my opinion regarding the new version and it constantly tells me the site is busy??? Also it does not allow me to stop the scan.

Posted by: Bunny | February 7, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Ad-Aware 2007 stinks! I am removing it as it is nothing the previous SE. Updates take forever and it appears clumsy. I wonder if Lavasoft hired a bunch of idiots that wrote this version.

Posted by: John | February 10, 2008 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Ad-aware 2007 is BLOAT
It takes up more Hard Drive space than the 20 Mega Bytes I had on my first P.C. When a 16 MByte download places a 16 Mbyte Installer in C:\Windows\Installer, and leave copies elsewhere, ontop of the "useful" code it puts in Program Files, I get emotional !!! When I found the performance killing background processes that Windows Task Manager could kill, and then they promptly resurrect - it had to go.

Posted by: Alan | February 16, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

I am glad I found this website. I was wondering if I was the only one who had problems w/Adaware 2007. This is totally useless, it freezes ALOT on my system. I use Spybot now but don't trust it as much.

Maybe they make the free version so crappy you need to upgrade? I dunno.

Posted by: Amy | February 18, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm just wondering if anyone's figured out a way of removing Ad-aware 2007 Services from Windows services? I agree with everyone else about Ad-Aware 2007 being a resource hog and have uninstalled it from my computers, but cannot figure out how to remove it from Windows services. Any ideas?

Posted by: Wildcard | February 18, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

To Wildcard
The entry has to be removed from the registry. I can't recall exactly how to do this but I have done it in the past.
If you google search on "remove xp services from registry" you should get some hits on how to do this - actually it's quite easy.
Hope that helps.

Posted by: Rick | February 20, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

For Wildcard,

Found what you need - here's how to remvove that service:

Click Start | Run and type regedit in the Open: line. Click OK.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services

Scroll down the left pane, locate the service name, right click it and select Delete.

Reboot the system

Hope that works for you - ;-)

Posted by: Rick | February 20, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I dont like the 7 version at all..It freezes up my computer....I went back to just running the older version

Posted by: Debi | February 28, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Version 7 didn't last 3 days on my system. It stinks. I quickly reinstalled SE; there's nothing like it. Ad-Aware 7 goes in the same pile of junk as the new System Mechanic. These companies had it right the first time. I think they just get griddy.

Posted by: Ivan | March 4, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Can you use SE on windows XP?

Posted by: jjs | March 11, 2008 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Yes I'm, using SE build 1.6 on XP, works great, you have to manually update, but no problems.

Posted by: Tony | March 20, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

where can you download a copy of the old SE. when I downloaded the newer version Stupidly I allowed it to remove the SE version

Posted by: bill | April 1, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I am not very comp savvy, so I'm not sure if I contributed to my problem. But I downloaded the free ad-aware program to my lap top (Dell), and a day later my lap top seems to have crashed. I was running a full scan, and when I came back to my computer, I had a dark background with a lot of script, I believe, in essence saying Windows shut down to avoid damage. Anyway, my lap top will not open, it just shows a dark screen with a blinking cursor in the upper lefthand corner. :(

Posted by: susan | April 25, 2008 7:28 AM | Report abuse

What a relief to find I am not alone in being unable to download updates any more! However, in trying to run AdAware without them it only finds negligible problems, no longer removing the cookies it used to take care of. Is there any other free programme that is safe to use? I do use Spybot & AVG, but they seem to find different problems from those AdAware used to deal with.

Posted by: Kiwiluccio | April 27, 2008 2:18 AM | Report abuse

PS Have just tried downloading the manual updates, unable to open file...

Posted by: Kiwiluccio | April 27, 2008 2:27 AM | Report abuse

just another modern overcomplexed and unsolicited approach is'nt it ,to lure innocents to themsome new pcs.
not that the trusty p3 is the problem,never was,never will be,unless the software scripts rort us of priviledges.
makes me wonder why intel wifi makes the machine use a staggering 21watts at idle as opposed to the more powerfull atheros wifi which not only performs superior but machine only uses 10watts instead.
i think its about time these big companys consider simplified approaches,but i guess thats another story,stick with se and youl be right,if they deny you,deny them and move onto another simpler version.

Posted by: JA | May 2, 2008 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Kiwiluccio, you don't try to open the defs.ref file. You unzip it and save it to the C:\Program Files\Lavasoft\Ad-Aware SE or SE Professional folder. Find it first through Windows Explorer to make sure that's where you have it downloaded. Or do a search for defs.ref but tell it to look in all drive letters.

Posted by: RAS | May 2, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Kiwiluccio, you don't try to open the defs.ref file. You unzip it and save it to the C:\Program Files\Lavasoft\Ad-Aware SE or SE Professional folder. Find it first through Windows Explorer to make sure that's where you have it downloaded. Or do a search for defs.ref but tell it to look in all drive letters.

Posted by: RAS | May 2, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Ad Aware 2007 doesn't work well at all on Windows 2000 Pro. A friend removed it and put SE on there, and that works great. If Lavasoft isn't continuing update support directly from them for SE (no reason to not support "legacy" software versions), I'll find my updates somewhere else or go with also free and works great with Win2KPro - Spybot S&D.

Lavasoft, suck it up and keep SE support.

Posted by: Win2Kperson | May 4, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

i have always used SE professional and spybot.
now for 19 days ("your definitions are 19 days old. would you like to update?") i was worried i would have to stop using ad-aware. thanks to this site i found my solution.

so i'll put this in for google to pick it up and help other distressed souls out there:
Lavasoft no longer supports direct updates for Ad-Aware SE Personal or Professional build 1.6r1
to get your new definitions you have to go to and look at the top right corner for the definitions file and download it (or directly go here:

then extract the file defs.ref into your ad-aware folder (replacing the old one) and re-start your ad-aware.

Posted by: AASEPro/SS&D | May 10, 2008 2:42 AM | Report abuse

SuperAntiSpyware is another good freeware product but like all the rest, when you press ctrl alt delete on your keyboard you will notice its running in the background using up resources. So far all i have is a good firewall and anti virus and i havn't had any issues, disable windows services you don't need i find when i close alot of openings to my computer its harder for spyware to get in anyway.

Posted by: Teddy | May 12, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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