Short on time? Here is the best adware removal tool in 2023:
- 🥇 Norton 360 — Removes adware from all devices and browsers and offers real-time scanning to prevent future adware downloads and malicious pop-ups. Also includes extras like advanced anti-malware scanning, anti-phishing protection, a VPN, webcam protection, parental controls, dark web monitoring, and lots more.
I tested every adware removal tool on the market to find the best software for detecting, removing, and preventing all kinds of adware infections.
However, finding a program that provides good adware protection isn’t easy. Some internet security products are bad at identifying and blocking adware, and others don’t offer adware protection at all.
However, I managed to find a few products that provide accurate and reliable adware detection and removal, as well as some that can keep new adware from infecting a system.
When I tested each adware removal product, I analyzed its security, features, ease of use, and value. I learned that the most powerful adware products are found inside top antivirus packages like Norton — but there are other good choices on the market, too. Here’s a close look at my top picks.
Quick summary of the best adware removal software in 2023:
- 🥇 1. Norton — #1 for adware detection and removal in 2023.
- 🥈 2. Bitdefender — Lightweight antivirus with excellent adware protection.
- 🥉 3. TotalAV — Fast anti-malware scanner with a good adware removal tool.
- 4. Avira — Advanced adware detection and cloud-based anti-malware scanner.
- 5. McAfee — Excellent malware scanning with comprehensive web protections.
- Plus 5 more adware removal tools!
- Comparison of the Best Adware Removal Software in 2023.
🥇1. Norton 360 — Best Adware Removal Software in 2023
Norton 360 is my favorite adware detection and removal tool in 2023. During my tests, Norton flagged every single piece of adware I placed onto my Windows PC, MacBook, and Android phone — from deceptive pop-up ads to sophisticated browser hijackers.
Norton’s anti-malware engine also identified and blocked other types of malware on all my devices, including spyware and ransomware. It even caught many ransomware files that other competitors failed to detect.
Norton 360 has a wide range of other internet security features, including:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- VPN (with unlimited data).
- Webcam protection.
- Dark web monitoring.
- Parental controls.
- Identity theft protection (US only).
- Cloud backup.
Norton’s anti-phishing tools are some of the best on the market — blocking more suspicious sites in my testing than both Chrome and Firefox’s built-in anti-phishing protections and outperforming most competitors.
I was also really impressed with Norton’s VPN. It didn’t just encrypt my data and keep my online activities private on unsecured hotspots — it also blocked ad trackers that were trying to collect all sorts of sensitive information (Norton ranks as one of the best antiviruses with a VPN in 2023).
Norton 360 Deluxe is the best-value plan for most users — it includes all of Norton’s features for up to 5 devices, for just $49.99 / year. For users in the US, Norton 360 with LifeLock plans start at $99.99 / year and also include identity theft protection, along with $1 million insurance coverage for identity theft damages.
Norton 360 is an excellent adware removal tool that detected all of my adware samples during testing — including advanced malware files that most other competitors missed! Norton’s anti-malware engine is one of the best on the market, with perfect detection rates against all types of known and emerging malware. Norton also comes with great anti-phishing protections, a VPN that blocks ad trackers, webcam protection, cloud storage, dark web monitoring, and much more. Norton’s plans start from $19.99 / year, and they all come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
🥈 2. Bitdefender — Lightweight Antivirus With Excellent Adware Protection
Bitdefender is a powerful antivirus that uses machine learning and a massive malware database to detect all kinds of malware threats, including adware. Just like Norton, Bitdefender found and removed 100% of the malware samples I’d hidden on my Windows and Mac devices.
Bitdefender also comes with a wide range of additional features:
- Web protection.
- Ransomware protection.
- Webcam protection.
- VPN (200 MB/daily).
- Parental controls.
- Password manager.
- System optimizer.
- And more…
I really like Bitdefender’s web protection. In my tests, it blocked every single dangerous website sample that contained adware. This included websites that the default protections on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge missed.
I also really like Bitdefender’s system optimization tool. It freed 1.3 GB of junk from my disk, removing temporary system files, recycle bin files, broken registry items, and more.
Bitdefender is really easy-to-use, too. It offers an intuitive dashboard that isn’t CPU-heavy, and it only takes a few minutes to install. What’s more, you can remotely scan any device on your Bitdefender plan from the dashboard — this is really handy and something that competitors like TotalAV don’t offer.
My favorite Bitdefender plan is Total Security — it includes every Bitdefender feature, support for all the main operating systems (Bitdefender’s lower-tier plans are Windows only), and a VPN with a 200 MB daily limit for $35.99 / year. You can also upgrade to Bitdefender Premium Security, which costs $59.99 / year and removes the VPN’s data cap. Whatever you decide, each Bitdefender plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bitdefender is a really good malware and adware removal tool that detected 100% of malware samples in my tests. It also comes with excellent web protections, a good system optimizer, and more extra features than most other brands. Bitdefender has a lightweight and intuitive dashboard that’s easy to navigate, and each payment plan is well-priced, starting from $23.99 / year. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥉 3. TotalAV — Best for Non-Technical Users
TotalAV comes with a pretty good adware removal tool — it removed all of the test adware from my Windows PC and Android phone, but it missed some adware on my MacBook’s Safari toolbar — which is disappointing because Norton and Bitdefender detected and removed those same adware samples. On the other hand, TotalAV quarantined all of the malware samples I launched during testing — TotalAV’s perfect malware detection score makes sense since it uses the same advanced anti-malware scanner as Avira.
TotalAV doesn’t come with many web protections, but the features it has are all very good (and all of them are very easy to use, even for non-technical users!). I especially like TotalAV’s ad blocker that doesn’t just block annoying ads and pop-ups, but also lowers your computer’s risk of getting infected with adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). The ad blocker also stops companies from tracking your data, and it can improve the speed of your web browser.
I also like TotalAV’s device optimization tools, which make it very easy to delete junk files, remove unwanted apps, and clear browser cookies. They saved 1 GB of space on my computer, which is only slightly less than Bitdefender.
TotalAV offers three different antivirus packages starting from $19.00 / year. If you’re just looking for adware and malware removal for up to 3 devices, TotalAV Antivirus Pro is a great low-cost option. TotalAV Internet Security is slightly more expensive, costing $39.00 / year, but it also includes a VPN with unlimited data and coverage for up to 5 devices. The premium Total Security package costs $49.00 / year and adds the ad blocker, password manager, and coverage for up to 6 devices.
TotalAV has a good adware removal tool, an advanced anti-malware engine, and an easy-to-use interface. It comes with a good ad blocker, device optimization tools, a VPN, and more. TotalAV plans start from $19.00 / year and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. Avira — Best Free Antivirus With Advanced Adware Detection
Avira has a really good free antivirus with an excellent adware removal tool — it blocked and removed all of the adware samples in my testing, including adware that is automatically downloaded to a device without the user’s consent.
I like Avira’s PUA Shield, which notifies users if potentially unwanted applications are bundled with legitimate software — most adware scanners just detect harmful files after you’ve downloaded them, but Avira alerts you before adware infects your system.
Avira also has an excellent anti-malware scanner that operates in the cloud. It’s so good that TotalAV uses it too. It identified all of the trojans, spyware, keyloggers, and ransomware I placed on my computer, and when I relaunched the samples, Avira’s real-time protection blocked them all.
Avira also provides free internet security features like:
- Safe Shopping browser extension.
- VPN (500 MB monthly limit).
- Password manager.
- Basic system cleanup tools.
I’m a big fan of Avira’s Safe Shopping browser extension — it prevents phishing attacks, blocks ads and web trackers, flags sketchy web stores, and even compares prices between reliable vendors to help you find the best deals!
Upgrading to Avira Prime for $59.99 / year brings you a VPN with unlimited data, advanced performance optimization tools, coverage for multiple devices, and lots more.
Avira provides comprehensive adware protection inside its free antivirus package. It successfully removed every adware file from my computer, and it also scanned all of my downloads in real-time to prevent reinfection. Avira also offers protection against web trackers, phishing sites, and pop-ups. Users looking for advanced internet security protections should consider choosing Avira Prime, which adds a VPN with unlimited data, advanced performance optimization tools, coverage for multiple devices, and a lot more.
5. McAfee Total Protection — Best Web Protections + Excellent Adware
McAfee Total Protection provides advanced adware scanning and removal — along with some of the best web protections on the market today. It detected every piece of adware in my testing, clearing out my Chrome toolbar and the pop-ups on my desktop, and even blocking adware bundled with several legitimate third-party apps. Its real-time anti-malware engine also blocked all of the malware files I tried downloading onto both my PC and my MacBook.
McAfee Total Protection has additional internet security tools like:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Home Wi-Fi network scanner.
- VPN (unlimited data).
- System cleanup tools.
- Parental controls.
- Identity theft protection (available in 35+ countries including the US, Australia, France, South Africa, and the UK).
During tests, McAfee’s anti-phishing tools were just as good as Norton’s — blocking all of the malicious websites I tried opening. I also really like McAfee’s network scanner, which made it easy to scan all of the devices connected to my home network for vulnerabilities or suspicious behavior.
McAfee’s VPN is also very good — it kept my IP hidden while browsing, preventing companies from collecting my information for advertising and making sure my data stayed safe even when connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. That said, it didn’t work with Hulu or Disney+ in my tests. But I do like how it has unlimited data so long as you sign up for auto-renewal, so there are no annoying data caps like there are with Bitdefender.
McAfee has several plans to choose from, starting from $39.99 / year. McAfee Plus costs $39.99 / year and covers 5 devices, McAfee Premium costs $54.99 / year, provides protection on unlimited devices and adds a personal data cleanup tool, and McAfee Advanced costs $89.99 / year and adds identity theft protection.
McAfee has excellent adware removal capabilities — it removed all the adware samples I placed on my devices, and it prevented new adware from infecting my system. McAfee also comes with a really good anti-malware scanner (100% detection rates against test malware), anti-phishing protection, a network scanner, and a VPN with unlimited data. McAfee offers protection for unlimited devices, and all purchases come with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
6. Intego — Best Adware Removal Software for Mac Computers
Intego is my favorite antivirus for Mac. It has perfect malware detection rates, and its VirusBarrier software was able to find and remove all kinds of malware from my MacBook Pro, including the test adware I’d downloaded. However, Intego’s Windows version isn’t as good as the Mac version, so if you’re a Windows user, you should consider Norton, Bitdefender, or TotalAV instead.
Intego for Mac includes:
- Malware scanner.
- System optimization tool.
- Data backup tool.
- Parental controls.
I really like Intego’s parental controls. They’re not quite as good as dedicated parental control apps, but they allow you to block applications or websites you don’t want your kids visiting. This is excellent if you have kids who often use your computer, as it reduces the chances of them downloading adware or anything else unwanted onto your device.
Intego’s system optimizer works really well too. It removed 4 GB of junk files from my Mac — which is more than what Norton and Bitdefender were able to remove. It’s just a shame that, unlike Norton and Bitdefender, Intego doesn’t include a system optimizer for Windows.
Intego for Mac plans start from $1.67 / month. I really like the Mac Premium Bundle X9, which costs $34.99 / year and includes every Intego feature for up to 5 Macs. However, if you want a budget option, you should consider Mac Internet Security X9, which also covers up to 5 Macs, costs $19.99 / year, and comes with a malware scanner and web protection.
Intego is the best adware removal tool for Mac. It can remove all types of adware and other malware, and comes with really good features such as a system optimization tool, data backup, and parental controls. Intego for Mac’s most basic plan costs $1.67 / month and is a great option for budget users. You can also upgrade to Mac Premium Bundle X9 for $34.99 / year. Whichever plan you choose, Intego for Mac comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
7. Kaspersky — Good Adware Protection & Online Shopping Security
Despite being headquartered in Russia, we have no evidence to suggest Kaspersky is dangerous. That said, if you’re concerned about using Kaspersky due to geo-political tensions, there are alternatives on the market, such as Norton, Bitdefender, or TotalAV.
Kaspersky is an excellent antivirus program that successfully detected 100% of the malware samples on my PC and MacBook Pro (including adware). However, some of Kaspersky’s additional features (such as the password manager) leave a lot to be desired and don’t perform as well as competitors like Norton or Bitdefender.
Kaspersky comes with:
- Phishing protection.
- Web protection.
- Parental controls.
- VPN (with unlimited data).
- And more…
Kaspersky’s phishing protection works really well. In my tests, it detected more malicious adware-containing websites than the built-in protections on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. However, it did let me access several dangerous websites that Norton and Bitdefender blocked.
I also like Kaspersky’s VPN. It includes unlimited data, is able to access most major streaming sites like Netflix, and maintains fast speeds for all online activities. It’s a good all-round VPN, but it still can’t compete with standalone providers like ExpressVPN or top antivirus–VPN bundles like Norton.
Kaspersky has 3 payment plans starting from $21.99 / year. My favorite plan is Kaspersky Premium, which includes all of Kaspersky’s features and can cover up to 20 devices for $30.99 / year. You can try Kaspersky risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kaspersky is a great choice for removing adware in 2023. It has 100% malware detection rates, includes good phishing protections, and has a decent VPN. You can pick between 3 payment plans, but Kaspersky Premium is my favorite. It costs $30.99 / year and can cover up to 20 devices. Whichever plan you choose, all Kaspersky purchases are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
8. MacKeeper — User-Friendly With Intuitive Security Features for Mac
MacKeeper offers a great adware removal tool for Mac users. When I tested the adware removal feature, it instantly detected all of the adware files hidden on my MacBook Pro.
I was also impressed with MacKeeper’s device cleanup and optimization tools. While the Memory Cleaner isn’t as good as Intego’s, all other optimization features worked very well, significantly improving my Mac’s performance.
MacKeeper also offers:
- Antivirus scanning and real-time malware protection.
- VPN (unlimited data).
- ID theft tools.
- Ad and tracker blocker.
Most of MacKeeper’s features are pretty good, but I don’t like that it’s missing important cybersecurity protections like anti-phishing and a firewall. While Intego also lacks anti-phishing protection, it at least checks that your web browser’s anti-phishing protections are turned on. That said, MacKeeper’s interface is very easy to navigate. Most users will have no trouble setting up MacKeeper and accessing all of its features, and with the built-in live chat support, it’s very easy to get assistance if needed.
MacKeeper offers several plans to choose from, starting from $40.20 / year, and they include coverage for 1-3 devices.
MacKeeper has a great adware removal feature for Mac users. It also offers a wide range of cleanup tools, as well as antivirus scanning and real-time malware protection, a VPN with unlimited data, and ID theft protection. MacKeeper could improve in some areas, but overall, it offers a good range of features that most Mac users would find useful. MacKeeper comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
9. Spybot – Search & Destroy — Good Free Adware Removal Tool
Spybot – Search & Destroy is a good standalone tool for adware and spyware removal. In my testing, Spybot detected the vast majority of my adware samples, but it failed to catch some of the advanced samples that Norton flagged. However, Spybot caught all of my test spyware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).
Spybot’s free version is only an adware and spyware removal tool — so it can’t detect or remove other types of malware. On the other hand, Spybot’s premium Spybot – Search & Destroy + AV plan (which costs $18.99 / year) includes real-time protection against malware — but Spybot’s anti-malware engine missed a lot of the malware samples that the other products on this list detected.
Spybot also lacks all of the extra features offered by the products on this list — unlike Norton and Bitdefender, for example, it doesn’t have anti-phishing protection, a VPN, or identity theft protections.
While I can’t recommend Spybot for users looking for complete protection against all malware, I think it’s a good adware removal tool that can complement good antivirus software — and it’s free!
Spybot – Search & Destroy is a really good free adware removal tool — it caught most of the adware samples in my testing, missing only a few advanced files. Spybot – Search & Destroy + AV adds antivirus protection and real-time scanning, but during testing, its anti-malware engine didn’t catch advanced malware that the other products on this list caught. I can’t recommend Spybot as a standalone antivirus, but its free adware removal tool is a nice add-on for users who already have a good antivirus program.
10. AdwCleaner — Easy-to-Use Adware Removal Tool
In my testing, AdwCleaner removed all of the adware from my desktop and browser, even flagging some of the bloatware that came bundled with my new printer. AdwCleaner also removed junkware from my PC, which improved my device’s performance as well.
However, AdwCleaner doesn’t have real-time protection, malware scanning, or any cybersecurity protections like Norton, Bitdefender, or TotalAV. But Malwarebytes Premium definitely does — and it only costs $44.99 / year!
If you’re only looking for adware detection and removal, AdwCleaner is a good choice. But, if you’re also looking for malware protection and additional online security tools, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
AdwCleaner is the simplest adware removal tool on my list. If you’re just trying to get adware off of your system, it’s a great choice. But I don’t recommend it for most people, simply because it doesn’t have an anti-malware engine or internet security protections. However, if you already have an antivirus, AdwCleaner is a good addition to your internet security setup — and it’s free.
Comparison of the Best Adware Removal Tools in 2023
|Antivirus||Starting Price||Anti-Phishing Protection||Ad Blocker||VPN||Free Version||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1.🥇Norton||$19.99 / year||✅||✅||Unlimited data||❌||60 days|
|2.🥈Bitdefender||$23.99 / year||✅||✅||Unlimited data (with Bitdefender Premium Security)||✅||30 days|
|3.🥉TotalAV||$19.00 / year||✅||✅||Unlimited data (with TotalAV Internet Security)||✅||30 days|
|4. Avira||$45.99 / year||✅||✅||Unlimited data (with Avira Prime)||✅||60 days|
|5. McAfee||$39.99 / year||✅||✅||Unlimited data (with automatic subscription renewals)||❌||30 days|
|6. Intego||$1.67 / month||✅||❌||Unlimited data (add-on only)||❌||30 days|
|7. Kaspersky||$21.99 / year||✅||✅||Unlimited data (with Kaspersky Plus and Premium)||✅||30 days|
|8. MacKeeper||$10.95 / month||❌||✅||Unlimited data||❌||30 days|
|9. Spybot – Search & Destroy||$18.99 / year||❌||❌||❌||✅||No|
|10. AdwCleaner||$37.49 / year||❌||✅ (Malwarebytes)||❌||✅||60 days (Malwarebytes)|
How to Choose the Best Adware Removal Software in 2023
- Adware removal. Look for antivirus scanners that use heuristic-based analysis and machine learning as well as malware databases. These are usually the best at catching all forms of malware, including adware, worms, trojans, rootkits, ransomware, zero-day attacks, and more. If the scanner is cloud-based, it’s even better because then it will also use fewer computer resources while scanning. Bitdefender is a good example of a cloud-based scanner that uses machine learning.
- Real-time protection. A good adware removal tool should include strong real-time protection. This is a preventative measure to stop your computer from getting adware in the first place. Our top choices, like Norton, Bitdefender, and TotalAV, all have really excellent real-time protection.
- Web protections. Adware infects a device because a computer doesn’t have strong enough online protections. So you should look for software that includes internet security features like anti-phishing protection, a virtual private network (VPN), and a firewall to make sure no adware can get onto your system in the first place. Norton offers all of these features, and its VPN has unlimited data on all plans, so it’s an excellent choice.
- Ease of use. A good adware removal tool should be easy to use, have an intuitive interface, and have helpful installation instructions. If you’re a non-technical user, I recommend TotalAV as its user interface is super intuitive, but Norton and Bitdefender are also very user-friendly.
- Value. Look for an adware removal tool that includes plenty of features for a reasonable price. Bitdefender is an excellent choice — it’s well-priced and feature-rich. However, if you’re determined to choose a free product, there are some ok options out there — Avira has one of the best free plans on the market with great adware removal tools. Also, while I definitely recommend having a premium antivirus program running on your computer at all times, it’s a good idea to pick a tool with a good refund policy (such as Norton’s 60-day money-back guarantee). That way you can try the product risk-free before committing.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Heimdal. Heimdal is good at detecting adware and other types of malware, but it’s more difficult to use and understand than most other internet security products, which lost it a place on my list.
- Webroot. Webroot has a fast antivirus scanner, decent web protections, and a user-friendly interface. However, Webroot’s adware detection rates were pretty bad during testing — it missed most of my adware samples.
- Comodo. Comodo has decent malware detection (and removal) and offers a variety of advanced settings for experienced users. However, it has weak phishing and ransomware protection, and its virus scanner significantly impacted my system’s speed and performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How dangerous is adware?
There are many different types of adware — some of them are completely harmless, and some of them are very dangerous.
Adware can infect your browser, inserting new icons into your toolbar which redirect you to sites that try to steal your information or sell you products. It can also infect your search bar, inserting suggested products into your searches and manipulating you into visiting potentially dangerous sites.
Adware can also infect your computer, notifying you that your security specs are out of date and convincing you to pay for an upgrade to a product you may never have installed!
Adware removal tools are designed to detect suspicious behavior and flag any potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) on your system. The best tools, like Norton 360, don’t just remove existing adware but also scan your downloads to ensure that you aren’t getting any new adware infections.
Are adware removal tools and antivirus software the same thing?
No. Many antivirus scanners don’t consider adware to be a serious threat.
That said, the adware removal tools found in the antiviruses on this list are the best on the market. These products protect you against all types of adware and also against a wide range of other threats. Plus they include excellent internet security protections like anti-phishing protection, firewalls, and VPNs to ensure you stay secure and fully protected online.
Do I really need adware protection?
Yes, you do. Good adware tools actively scan your system for all suspicious behavior — if any process tries to make changes on your system, open a pop-up window, or communicate to an outside server, that action is blocked and you get a notification, asking if you want to grant permission to the file in question.
Adware removal tools also scan new downloads to ensure that you aren’t getting new pieces of adware online. All of the top 5 products on this list provide active scanning, so every single file you download is analyzed using advanced detection tools to ensure you don’t get any adware on your system in the first place.
How do I know if an adware removal tool is legit?
You should only install reputable internet security programs, and you should only get them directly from the developer’s website.
Because cybersecurity software is given access to your system files, there are tons of deceptive sites out there hoping that you’ll download a fake security program and give it permission to infect your system with malware.
I’ve provided links to all of the home pages for the adware removal tools on my list, so you can download any of these products with 100% certainty that you’re actually getting the tools that you need.