Spybot Search & Destroy Antivirus Review 2024 — Any Good?

Our Score
Ranked 70th out of 74 antiviruses
Ranked 70th out of 74 antiviruses
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross Senior Writer
Updated on: May 15, 2024
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Published on: May 15, 2024 Senior Writer

Spybot Review: Quick Expert Summary

Spybot Search & Destroy is not very good. It’s bad at detecting most malware and phishing threats, has a confusing user interface, and the customer support channels are lackluster. It also lacks many features you’d expect in a premium antivirus — such as a firewall, a VPN, and a password manager — which are included in the best antiviruses of 2024, like Norton and Bitdefender.

Spybot Search & Destroy does include a few security features — like web protections and dark web monitoring — but they’re nowhere near as good as the same features offered by top competitors. Spybot does take some steps to block web-based threats, but its approach is very inefficient, failing to detect and block many threats that more modern antiviruses can tackle with ease.

There are so many better antiviruses on the market in 2024, so Spybot offers little value. Each of these brands provides perfect malware detection and a better selection of additional security features to keep you safe online. Also, they all offer free trials and/or money-back guarantees. On the other hand, Spybot Search & Destroy offers no money-back guarantees or free trials on its paid plans.

Overall Rank #70 out of 74 antiviruses
🔥 Firewall
🎁 Free Plan
💵 Pricing $18.99 / year
💰 Money-Back Guarantee
💻 Operating Systems Windows

Spybot Search & Destroy Full Review

Spybot Search & Destroy Full Review

Spybot Search & Destroy’s security features are disappointing, especially compared to other top antiviruses.

Its malware scanner performed poorly in all my tests, missing most of my malware samples (in comparison, brands like Norton and Bitdefender consistently catch 100% of malware in testing). Spybot also doesn’t use machine learning to detect zero-day threats — a standard feature in most modern antiviruses. And it lacks many features I expect to see in a premium antivirus, such as a firewall, a VPN, parental controls, and a password manager. In fact, it doesn’t seem to have received any significant upgrades (outside of virus definition updates) for several years.

Spybot’s free version doesn’t include an antivirus engine or real-time protection, so it won’t actually protect you from the vast majority of malware that can infect your device. It only scans for spyware and leaves your device open to threats like trojans, viruses, adware, and worms. It does come with some basic web protections, but these are outdated and generally ineffective. There are 4 paid plans that add on some security features — including a scanner that stops more than just spyware and real-time protection, but most of its features don’t work well, and the ones that do will only interest a few users.

Spybot doesn’t offer any free trials or money-back guarantees on any of its paid plans. So, if you just want to test it out, you have no choice but to pay. Instead, I suggest going with the best antiviruses that offer free trials and money-back guarantees.

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

Spybot Search & Destroy includes several security features:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Real-time protection.
  • Rootkit scanner.
  • Web protection.
  • Dark web monitoring.
  • Password monitor.
  • Anti-tracking tools.

While it might seem that Spybot’s antivirus offers a lot of great features, this isn’t the case. Most of the features listed above don’t work very well, are difficult to use, and pale in comparison to similar tools offered by the best antivirus programs on the market.

I was seriously unimpressed with Spybot’s malware scanner, which failed to detect most of the 1,000 malware samples I buried on my test device. Since it doesn’t rely on machine learning, it simply can’t keep up with better antiviruses like Norton (which consistently detected 100% of the same malware samples). It also lacks a quick scan option, which is somewhat frustrating since its scanner took nearly 2 hours for me and the rootkit scan requires you to leave your computer alone. You can scan individual files using the file scan, but this is no substitute for a quick scan that looks at all vulnerable parts of your system.

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

Spybot offers real-time protection for paid users, but it doesn’t work very well. You have to install it separately, and when I tried downloading the same malware sample archive I used to test the malware scanner, Spybot let most of the samples through. This included samples that other antiviruses, like Norton and Bitdefender, blocked.

The web protection tools don’t fare much better. Immunization, Spybot’s name for this tool, is best described as “primitive.” Instead of using a cloud-based directory and real-time website scanning, Spybot edits your Windows host files to include a directory of blocked sites. Making matters worse, when I combed through the list of blocked websites, many of the domains stopped being active a long time ago. Overall, Immunization’s old-school design leaves it unable to protect you against modern threats.

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

Identity Monitor, Spybot’s dark web monitoring also isn’t great. It’s a separate download that scans various data brokers for your information, alerting you if your info was caught in a breach. The scan is actually surprisingly good at finding breaches; the problem is that it doesn’t offer worthwhile actionable advice. Instead, Spybot offers a ton of generic advice to fix the situation, but it’s borderline useless feedback.

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

Spybot’s Identity Monitor also includes password monitoring, but it’s nothing special. You can enter a password and see how many times it’s appeared in data breaches before, so you can see if you’re using a commonly stolen password or not. It does what it advertises, but it pales in comparison to a password manager like 1Password.

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

On the bright side, the anti-tracking tools are pretty good. Spybot Anti-Beacon (also a separate app) allows you to customize how much of your personal data gets transmitted to companies like Microsoft and Google. I like that you can give each company a different set of rules. There are 3 different security presets to pick from, or if you’re feeling brave you can delve into Spybot’s labyrinth of menus and customize the rules yourself. Admittedly, even though I liked this feature a lot, a good VPN is much more effective at safeguarding your overall privacy by encrypting your web traffic. CyberGhost even provides tools very similar to Anti-Beacon bundled into its VPN app.

Spybot Search & Destroy Security Features

Finally, Spybot comes with a collection of smaller features that will only appeal to a very small amount tech experts with niche problems. These include:

  • Script editor: create rules for detecting malware on your computer.
  • OpenSBI editor: create rules for detecting unwanted applications on your computer.
  • FileAlyzer: access information about your installed applications, such as their hex code and security permissions (free app separate from the antivirus).
  • RegAlyzer: advanced way to edit your computer’s registry (requires a separate app).
  • Start-up tools: control which applications and programs launch when you turn on your computer.
  • System registry repair: improve your computer’s performance by fixing broken registry files, tidying their organization, and removing anything unnecessary.
  • Secure shredder: safely and completely remove files from your hard drive, so they can never be retrieved or restored.
  • Repair environment: create a separate, self-contained environment outside your computer’s OS to conduct any scans or repairs needed.

Spybot Search & Destroy Plans & Pricing

Spybot Search & Destroy offers a free version and 4 different paid plans. Each plan is only available on 1 device, lacks a free trial, and doesn’t include a money-back guarantee. You can add more licenses at checkout, but the discounts aren’t that notable (you can save about 20% by getting 5 licenses, for example).

Free Edition Home Edition Professional Edition Corporate Edition Technicians Edition
Price Free $18.99 / year $27.99 / year $46.00 / year $69.00 / year
Number of device licenses 1 1 (extra licenses available at checkout) 1 (extra licenses available at checkout) 1 (extra licenses available at checkout) 1 (extra licenses available at checkout)
Malware scanning & removal
Real-time protection
Spyware protection
Web protections
Wi-Fi protection
System repair
Rootkit scanner
Secure shredder
Script editor

Spybot’s free version shouldn’t be confused with a fully-fledged antivirus — it lacks an antivirus engine that can tackle serious threats and real-time protection, so there’s nothing to stop malware from infecting your computer. It’s a decent companion to Windows Defender that offers on-demand scanning, but that’s about it. There are much better free antiviruses, such as Avira — which has a scanner with a 100% malware detection rate, real-time protection, a password manager, and more.

The paid plans aren’t much better. While they include more features, I’ve outlined throughout this review how badly most of them work. And the ones that work well only solve very specific issues most people won’t care about. Norton’s 360 plans, for example, start from just $54.99 / year* and include everything you need to stay safe online: perfect malware detection, real-time protection, a powerful VPN, dark web monitoring, and so much more.

Really, there’s no reason to spend money on Spybot’s antivirus. There are so many superior alternatives to choose from that don’t cost a lot, provide reliable protection, and are way easier to use. Even if you’re only worried about spyware, there are better choices out there.

Spybot Search & Destroy Ease of Use & Setup

Spybot Search & Destroy isn’t the easiest antivirus to use in 2024. It’s made up of several components you need to download and install separately, and it tries to install additional unnecessary programs on your computer when you first set it up.

Spybot Search & Destroy Ease of Use & Setup

It took me about 10 minutes to install Spybot Search & Destroy. After installing it, the program minimizes to your system tray instead of showing you the app. You have to right-click on Spybot’s icon, then click Start Center to open the app. This is much less intuitive than competitors like Norton, which just require a double click on their icon to open.

Spybot Search & Destroy Ease of Use & Setup

Once you’ve opened Spybot’s app, you can run a system scan, install the web protections, or update your virus database. To access the rest of Spybot’s features, you have to click a small Show details button in the bottom right corner of the interface.

Spybot Search & Destroy Ease of Use & Setup

When you click this, each additional feature is shown clearly and with its own icon — which is pretty cool. You can also click a button to hide advanced features, which beginner users will appreciate.

Spybot Search & Destroy Ease of Use & Setup

That said, Spybot isn’t very beginner-friendly, and it makes certain tasks difficult. For example, scheduling a virus scan is complicated and requires several steps. Many competitors, such as Avira, let you schedule scans simply by clicking a calendar icon and choosing a date and time.

Spybot Search & Destroy Ease of Use & Setup

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Spybot Search & Destroy’s ease of use — it tries to sneak additional applications onto your computer, and you need to download and install multiple programs to access every feature necessary for robust security. It’s also annoying how simple processes like scheduling virus scans are overly complicated. You’re better off picking an easier-to-use alternative.

Spybot Search & Destroy Customer Support

Spybot Search & Destroy Customer Support

Spybot Search & Destroy offers email support, a community forum, frequently asked questions, and malware removal guides. However, it lacks live chat and phone support — something many competitor antiviruses include.

I tested Spybot’s email support by filling in a support form on its website, but I never received a reply. I received an automatic response saying Spybot would be in touch with me as soon as possible. However, after a week of waiting, I still hadn’t received a reply to my email. I tried emailing Spybot again, and it once again failed to respond.

It took a little over a week before I got an answer, though to Spybot’s credit, the support representative provided a detailed walkthrough that even included step-by-step screenshots. Although the answer was helpful, the long wait is disappointing when you consider competitors like Norton, Bitdefender, and TotalAV all have multiple support channels and reasonable response times (within a couple of hours sometimes).

Spybot Search & Destroy Customer Support

Spybot’s support forum proved to be unexpectedly helpful. Posting an issue there elicited a quick, friendly, and useful response from a forum moderator. However, if the moderator was uncertain about something, they would redirect me to Spybot’s support email, which disappointingly didn’t reply to my inquiries.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with Spybot’s FAQ and virus removal guides. The text is challenging to follow and poorly written.

Spybot Search & Destroy Customer Support

In general, Spybot’s customer support leaves much to be desired. I sent multiple emails but never got a repsonse, and I found the FAQ section and knowledge base unintuitive. Although the support forum is helpful, it doesn’t compensate for the poor customer support choices — there are superior antiviruses out there with far better support available.

Does Spybot Search & Destroy Offer Good Protection In 2024?

Spybot Search & Destroy doesn’t offer good protection in 2024. The malware scanner underperformed in my tests, missing most malware samples, and the majority of additional features are disappointing. For example, Spybot’s web protection tool fails to block dangerous websites.

Spybot also lacks essential features like a VPN and a firewall, which many competitors include. Even worse, Spybot’s free version doesn’t actually stop viruses — so don’t mistake it for a genuine antivirus.

In addition, I found Spybot to be overly complicated to set up and use, with many features installed separately from the main app, and basic functions like scheduling a virus scan frustrating to initiate.

Finally, Spybot offers few customer support options, and its support team is unresponsive.

Honestly, Spybot Search & Destroy is not good value for money — especially when competitors like Avira have free versions far superior to Spybot’s premium plans. However, if you want to pay for good antivirus protection (which I recommend doing), check out our list of the best antiviruses in 2024 and choose an alternative like Norton or Bitdefender.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I uninstall Spybot Search & Destroy?

Yes, Spybot Search & Destroy is really easy to uninstall. If you’re using the latest version of Windows, navigate to your computer’s control panel and click Uninstall a program. Scroll down your list of installed programs until you see Spybot Search & Destroy. Click on it, and click Uninstall. Once you’ve followed the uninstallation wizard, repeat this step for Spybot Anti-Beacon and other Spybot programs you’ve installed.

Once you’ve fully removed Spybot Search & Destroy and all related programs, you should choose an alternative antivirus to protect your computer from the latest malware threats in 2024. Norton is a great choice with excellent features, including a firewall, anti-phishing protection, and more. You can check out our full review to learn more.

Is Spybot Search & Destroy compatible with Windows 10?

Spybot Search & Destroy works with the latest version of Windows 10. I also tested Spybot Search & Destroy on a Windows 11 computer and had no problems running it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Spybot is a good choice. It lacks many features you’d expect in an antivirus in 2024, including good malware detection rates and decent additional security features.

If you want a good antivirus that’s compatible with both Windows 10 and 11, you should check out our list of best Windows antiviruses in 2024. Every antivirus on this list works better than Spybot Search & Destroy.

Is Spybot Search & Destroy safe?

Spybot Search & Destroy is a program developed by a trustworthy company — Safer-Networking — so the application is safe. However, Spybot underperformed in my tests and failed to capture most malware samples, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to stay safe from the latest malware threats. Instead, choose an antivirus that can protect you from all kinds of malware, including trojans, worms, rootkits, and more, and that offers decent additional features like multi-device protection, reliable real-time protection, and a VPN. Unfortunately, Spybot lacks all of these features.

Spybot Products & Pricing

Spybot – Search and Destroy Free
$0.00 / year
Spybot - Search and Destroy Home
$18.99 / year
Spybot – Search and Destroy Professional
$27.99 / year
*1st year, terms apply
Bottom Line

Spybot Search & Destroy underperformed in most of my tests. It failed to detect most malware samples on my device, it allowed access to every dangerous website I visited, and it lacks additional features like a firewall, a VPN, and parental controls. I was also disappointed in Spybot’s customer support, which failed to respond to my emails. Finally, Spybot offers no money-back guarantees or free trials, and its free plan won’t protect you from viruses. Honestly, Spybot Search & Destroy’s paid plans don’t offer a good value either, and they lack features that similarly priced plans by competitors include. If you want to protect your devices in 2024, you should choose an alternative antivirus.

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About the Author
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Senior Writer

About the Author

Tyler is a writer at SafetyDetectives with a passion for researching all things tech and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, he worked with cybersecurity products hands-on for more than five years, including password managers, antiviruses, and VPNs and learned everything about their use cases and function. When he isn't working as a "SafetyDetective", he enjoys studying history, researching investment opportunities, writing novels, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends."

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