Updated on: May 1, 2022
Short on time? Here’s the best anti-spyware software in 2022:
- Norton 360 is the best anti-spyware tool there is, and it comes with many other high-privacy features like a firewall, a VPN, and a password manager.
- If you’re just looking for a simple spyware removal tool, SUPERAntiSpyware is fast, easy to use, and effective.
I tested nearly 70 different anti-spyware engines in order to find those that are the best at detecting and removing spyware.
From my tests, I discovered that premium antivirus suites provide the best detection, removal, and protection against spyware — as well as protecting against all other types of malware threats.
These programs have malware databases that are continuously updated with the latest spyware samples, and advanced detection and removal methods — like behavioral analysis and sandboxing. My top picks also have real-time malware and spyware scanning, anti-phishing/suspicious site protection, and additional tools like microphone and webcam protection.
I also found a few dedicated anti-spyware tools that were able to successfully detect and remove spyware, but it’s important to keep in mind that these simple tools alone can’t replace an antivirus program in terms of the other threats they protect against, so they should only be used to complement existing antivirus software.
Best full-suite antiviruses with anti-spyware capabilities:
- 🥇1. Norton 360 — Best overall anti-spyware protection in 2022.
- 🥈2. Bitdefender — Excellent spyware detection & tons of additional features.
- 🥉3. Intego — Best spyware protection for Mac.
- 4. TotalAV — Good spyware protection for beginners.
- 5. McAfee Total Protection — Advanced web-based privacy protections.
- 6. Avira — Best free spyware protection.
- 7. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic antivirus with good spyware protection.
- 8. MacKeeper — Fast spyware removal (Mac only).
- 9. BullGuard — Good anti-spyware protection for gamers.
- 10. Adaware Antivirus Total — Decent spyware protection with additional tools.
- Bonus. SUPERAntiSpyware — Best for additional spyware protection
- Bonus. SpywareBlaster — Best for additional browsing protection.
- Bonus. Spybot – Search and Destroy — Best for advanced users.
- Comparison of the Best Anti-Spyware Software.
- How to Choose the Best Anti-Spyware Software in 2022.
- Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Spyware and Anti-Spyware Software.
10 Best Anti-Spyware Software in 2022 — Reviewed & Compared
I’ve divided this list into two sections:
- Antivirus software that includes anti-spyware capabilities. Detects and removes spyware as well as a wide range of other cybersecurity threats. Get one of these if you don’t have any antivirus/anti-malware software currently installed.
- Dedicated anti-spyware software. Provides protection against spyware and not much else. Get one of these if you already have antivirus software, but are looking for additional protection against spyware.
Best Full-Suite Antivirus Software That Protects Against Spyware
🥇1. Norton 360 — Best Overall Anti-Spyware Protection in 2022
Norton 360 offers the best overall protection against malware and other internet threats in 2022. Its anti-malware scanner uses a unique scanning engine powered by heuristic analysis and machine learning, making it capable of detecting every kind of malware threat — including spyware — that most other antivirus engines aren’t able to detect.
During my tests, Norton detected and removed all of the spyware samples I placed on my test computer. And once Norton’s real-time protection was turned on, I was unable to download a single piece of spyware to my device.
Along with excellent anti-spyware capabilities, Norton 360 comes with a ton of extra features that can protect your data and personal information online, such as:
- Smart firewall.
- Dark web monitoring.
- Privacy protection.
- Password manager.
- Secure VPN (virtual private network) with unlimited data.
- Webcam protection (Windows only).
- Parental controls.
- And much more…
Norton’s additional features are better than most competitors’ similar features. For example, Norton’s dark web monitoring uses human agents with access to dark web forums to provide live updates and assistance in case of a data breach. And Norton’s Privacy Monitor feature scans a wide range of data broker sites to help keep your personally identifying information (PII) out of the hands of data brokers who might be profiting off of your identity. I also really like Norton’s webcam protection, which keeps hackers from being able to remotely control your webcam and directly spy on you.
Starting at $9.99 / year, Norton offers a range of plans that all provide excellent value. Its entry-level AntiVirus Plus comes with the fewest features, but it has real-time malware protection that guarantees complete protection against all types of threats — including spyware — as well as a firewall, password manager, and 2 GB cloud storage.
Norton’s 360 plans then include all the additional excellent security protections, with different pricing tiers available depending on the features included and number of devices covered. I think Norton 360 Deluxe ($29.99 / year) is the best value plan — it includes the majority of Norton’s advanced features and covers up to 5 devices.
Norton has the best anti-spyware capabilities out of any other software on the market. In addition to 100% malware-detection and removal rates, its real-time protection immediately blocked all of the spyware samples I tried launching during testing. Norton also provides additional internet privacy features like dark web monitoring, privacy monitoring, and webcam protection, and US users can gain access to Norton’s LifeLock identity theft protections, which adds another layer of protection against spyware. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Norton’s plans.
🥈2. Bitdefender Total Security — Excellent Spyware Detection & Tons of Additional Features
Bitdefender has an advanced cloud-based scanner that is one of the best on the market — capable of detecting and removing every kind of spyware and other malware. Bitdefender removed all of the spyware from my PC, including hidden spyware that was bundled with legitimate programs I downloaded from The Pirate Bay. And unlike other antiviruses that can slow down your device’s system during scans, Bitdefender’s scanner operates in the cloud, meaning its full scan didn’t affect my PC’s performance at all.
Bitdefender also includes a great set of additional features, such as:
- Phishing protection.
- Secure browser (Safepay).
- Webcam and microphone protection.
- VPN (200 MB/daily).
- Password manager.
- And much more…
I really like Bitdefender’s secure browser, Safepay. It’s a completely sandboxed, read-only browser window for online transactions — spyware can’t monitor its traffic, gather information through screen capture, or infect its toolbar or search engines. If you regularly visit banking sites or even payment websites like PayPal, then Safepay is an essential internet security tool.
Bitdefender’s webcam, microphone, and phishing protections are also all excellent, providing an important extra layer of protection against hackers. And Bitdefender’s VPN is one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs on the market — although unlike Norton’s VPN which includes unlimited data, Bitdefender’s is limited to 200 MB/day on most plans.
Starting at $23.99 / year, Bitdefender offers a range of plans to suit most needs and budgets, all of which include its excellent anti-spyware protection. Bitdefender Total Security ($36.00 / year) is the best value, providing all of Bitdefender’s features for up to 5 devices across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Users that are only looking for PC protection can get Bitdefender’s Antivirus Plus ($23.99 / year) or Internet Security ($32.00 / year) plans, which offer similar coverage for either 1 or 3 PCs, respectively.
Bitdefender’s advanced cloud-based scanning engine quickly and effectively detects and removes all types of malware, including spyware. It barely slowed my system down during scans, and it has an excellent range of additional security features that all work very well — I especially like the secure Safepay browser, which secures all online transactions. Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans.
🥉3. Intego — Best Spyware Protection for Mac
Intego is the best antivirus suite for Mac computers. Its malware scanner scored a 100% detection rate in my tests, and its full disk scans are also much faster than many other antivirus scanners, taking just over 1 hour in my tests.
Intego’s anti-spyware detection is great, too. In my tests, Intego successfully analyzed and removed every spyware sample I’d installed on my Mac, including ThiefQuest and SearchAwesome. Intego also successfully detected all my other malware samples, including trojans, ransomware, adware, and cryptojackers.
Intego’s security features include:
- Malware scanner.
- Parental controls.
- System optimizer.
- Data backup tool.
Intego has a lot of cool features, and better still, they all work very well. Most antiviruses — even Norton and Bitdefender — primarily focus on Windows devices, with far fewer features available on their macOS versions. Intego, on the other hand, is designed exclusively for Macs, and its features are all a significant improvement on both Apple’s built-in features as well as other Mac-focused antiviruses, such as MacKeeper. I particularly like the customizable data backup tool, which is way better than Apple’s Time Machine.
Intego offers a range of different plans, starting at $19.99 / year. Mac Internet Security X9 offers real-time antivirus protection, anti-phishing protection, anti-spyware tools, and a firewall. The Mac Premium Bundle X9 ($39.99 / year) then additionally includes Intego’s excellent parental controls, system tune-up, and file backup. A range of other packages are also available, which include different combinations of Intego’s various features, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all Intego plans.
Intego is my favorite Mac-focused anti-spyware and anti-malware protection in 2022. It has comprehensive spyware protection as well as some excellent extra features, like a customizable backup feature, parental controls, clean-up features, and more. Intego offers a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee.
4. TotalAV — Good Spyware Protection for Beginners
TotalAV has an excellent antivirus scanner, a decent variety of security features, and it’s very easy to use — making it a great option for beginners and less-techy users.
TotalAV uses a whitelisted version of Avira’s excellent anti-malware engine, which is good news as Avira’s malware scanner is one of the best on the market. In my testing, TotalAV was able to detect 99% of the spyware on my system, including browser extensions like CoolWebSearch and even rootkit/spyware hybrids like Look2Me.
TotalAV also has:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Anti-phishing protection.
- System clean-up tools.
- VPN (unlimited data).
- Ad blocker.
- Password manager.
Users that are looking for a simple internet security program that they can install and forget about will really appreciate TotalAV’s simple interface. After I bought and downloaded TotalAV, the program automatically scheduled a system scan and initiated real-time protection. I was able to access and customize all of TotalAV’s features — including the VPN, system optimization tools, and password manager — with just a few clicks on the desktop app.
I also really liked TotalAV’s VPN, which (like Norton’s) comes with unlimited data and is fast, secure, and works on most streaming sites.
TotalAV has a range of packages, all of which include its anti-spyware protection. TotalAV Antivirus Pro is a good basic package, providing malware scanning and system tune-up for up to 3 devices for $29.00 / year, while TotalAV Internet Security adds a VPN and covers up to 5 devices for $39.00 / year. TotalAV Total Security then adds an ad blocker, a password manager, and coverage for up to 6 devices for $49.00 / year. TotalAV also offers a free plan that includes on-demand scanning and phishing protection for 1 device.
TotalAV has good anti-spyware protection and a solid range of additional features inside an attractive interface. Users looking to protect their systems from spyware and malware without dealing with a confusing user interface will love TotalAV’s simplicity. All of TotalAV’s plans are available with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. McAfee Total Protection — Advanced Web-Based Privacy Protections
McAfee Total Protection offers excellent spyware detection and removal rates as well as a variety of useful internet security tools. In my testing, McAfee removed every spyware file from my PC and browser toolbar — McAfee even detected spyware apps and browser extensions on my Android phone (via its mobile app).
McAfee also has a good range of internet security features to keep you safe from spyware and other types of privacy-based malware, including:
- Firewall and Wi-Fi network protection.
- Anti-phishing protection.
- VPN (unlimited data).
- Dark web monitoring.
- And much more…
McAfee’s malware protection is excellent. However, unlike Bitdefender or Norton’s lightweight scanners, McAfee’s scanner did slow down my device quite a lot while the scan was running — which was a bit of a pain. That said, I think McAfee’s phishing protections and Wi-Fi protections are better than similar protections offered by other top competitors like TotalAV and Avira.
McAfee Total Protection comes in a range of plan options. Total Protection Basic ($84.99 / year) covers just 1 Windows PC, and isn’t the best deal when compared to similar plans from the likes of Norton. Total Protection Plus ($49.99 / year) is a better deal, covering 5 devices and including 5 VPN licenses. But Total Protection Premium — which covers 10 devices and includes all McAfee features including parental controls — is available for a 2-year subscription for just $54.99 / year, which makes it one of the best long-term deals out there.
McAfee offers really good anti-spyware scanning and a ton of excellent internet security tools — I especially like McAfee’s Wi-Fi and anti-phishing protections, and the 2-year Premium plan is one of the best value offers available on the market. However, it’s a shame the malware scanner impacts device performance so much. McAfee offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans.
6. Avira Free Security — Best Free Spyware Protection
Avira Free Security is the best free plan on the market — it provides better spyware protection than some paid antivirus suites, and it includes some pretty good additional features too.
Avira’s antivirus software comes bundled with a PUA (potentially unwanted application) Shield — this feature is specifically designed to detect and remove spyware apps that come bundled with legitimate software.
A colleague recently told me that he had accidentally downloaded several adware and spyware programs along with GIMP, an image manipulation program. So, for my tests, I also downloaded GIMP from SourceForge, and Avira flagged all of the spyware ‘.exe’ files that came bundled with my download.
Avira Free Security also comes with an excellent internet privacy browser extension, a secure password manager, and a free VPN (limited to 500 MB/month) — this is a very limited amount of data, but few antiviruses offer free VPNs, and other top antiviruses like Norton and Bitdefender don’t offer any free plans at all.
Avira also offers a range of paid plans, the best of which is Avira Prime ($59.99 / year), which comes with unlimited VPN data, advanced system tune-up tools, dark web monitoring, excellent mobile apps, and more.
Avira offers the best free spyware protection on the market, and it also comes with a couple of decent internet privacy protections — including a built-in PUA Shield that detects spyware and adware that’s bundled with other legitimate software, and a free (but limited) VPN. Avira’s premium plan, Avira Prime, is also a good value for users looking for multi-device coverage, advanced system tune-up tools, and an unlimited data VPN. Avira offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on all its annual-subscription plans.
7. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic Antivirus with Good Spyware Protection
Malwarebytes is a simple, minimalistic antivirus program that is able to detect all types of spyware. In my tests, Malwarebytes detected and removed every spyware sample I installed, including the WebDiscover Browser, a fake spyware browser that secretly collects your data and displays annoying pop-ups.
However, Malwarebytes’ scanner only detected around 90% of all the different malware types I tested overall — which isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near as good as top competitors like Norton or Bitdefender.
Malwarebytes also doesn’t have as many extra features as the other premium security suites on this list, but it still provides:
- Real-time protection.
- Web protection.
- VPN (unlimited data).
- Browser guard, including an ad blocker.
However, the VPN is only available on the most expensive plan — Premium + Privacy — and while it’s not bad, it doesn’t work with streaming sites or support torrenting, so if you specifically want a VPN, you’re better off going with the likes of Norton, which comes bundled with an excellent VPN, or opting for a standalone VPN.
Malwarebytes offers two plans, both of which are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android: Malwarebytes Premium (from $39.99 / year) includes the anti-malware scanner with real-time protection, web protections, and browser guard, while Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy ($99.99 / year) adds the unlimited data VPN. There is also a free plan available, but it only scans your device for existing infections — there is no ongoing or real-time protection. Malwarebytes offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on all its paid plans.
Malwarebytes offers excellent spyware detection and removal, but it lacks a lot of the cybersecurity protections I want to see in a top-quality internet security suite. It only has a virus scanner, phishing protection, browser guard, and an optional VPN (which isn’t as good as that of its competitors). It may be too basic for some users, but if you’re just looking for a lightweight, affordable antivirus with excellent anti-spyware capabilities, Malwarebytes isn’t a bad choice.
8. MacKeeper — Fast Spyware Removal (Mac Only)
MacKeeper is one of the few antivirus suites designed exclusively for macOS — and it comes with good malware protection that is able to quickly remove spyware and other threats.
When I tested MacKeeper, the malware scanner took just 50 minutes to scan every file on my Mac. It removed most spyware samples I’d installed, including SearchBaron, a browser hijacker and spyware that collects your data and sells it to third parties.
MacKeeper also comes with some decent additional features. It includes:
- VPN (unlimited data).
- System cleanup tools.
- Ad blocker.
- ID theft protection.
MacKeeper scored an overall 99% malware-detection rate in my tests, which is very good. However, it’s missing phishing protection and a firewall, which I consider pretty essential security features these days — and are both features that Intego, my favorite Mac-focused antivirus, does include. That said, if you’d like an antivirus product for your Mac that comes with an integrated VPN, MacKeeper is a great option.
MacKeeper has just one plan, which includes all its features as standard. Starting at $10.95 / month, it is available at different prices depending on the number of devices you want to cover, and if you choose to pay monthly or annually. MacKeeper offers a 14-day money-back guarantee on all plans.
MacKeeper is a decent antivirus suite for Mac with good spyware protection. It also includes a good VPN, solid ID theft protection, and decent system tune-up tools. Mackeeper only offers one plan, and there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee.
9. BullGuard — Good Anti-Spyware Protection for Gamers
BullGuard’s antivirus scanner is very good at identifying spyware, as well as all other types of malware.
For my testing, I downloaded over 1,000 pieces of sample malware, including adware and spyware like Red Shell, the notorious spyware app that is frequently used to harvest gamer metadata for big corporations. BullGuard detected 100% of these malware samples, better even than TotalAV’s impressive 99% detection rate. However, it did slow down my PC quite noticeably while running the scan, unlike other top products such as Norton and Bitdefender — which had no impact on my device’s performance at all.
BullGuard also includes some other useful features, such as:
- Game booster.
- Firewall and home network scanner.
- Secure web browser.
- Identity theft protection.
- Parental controls.
- PC tune-up.
BullGuard’s game booster is one of my favorite features — it reallocates running processes to improve your PC performance while gaming. The game booster performed well in my tests, increasing my frame rate while playing Destiny 2 on my gaming rig. I’m a big fan of this feature, and it definitely makes Bullguard one of the best antiviruses for gamers, although I think Norton’s game booster provides a slightly better gaming experience.
That said, I’m not a massive fan of all of BullGuard’s other features. Its parental controls and secure browser have room for improvement, the macOS app is so limited it’s barely worth having, and there isn’t an iOS app at all.
BullGuard offers a range of packages, starting at $9.99 / year, all of which include BullGuard’s anti-malware/spyware scanner and the game booster mode. The entry-level Antivirus product covers just 1 PC, whereas the top plan, BullGuard Premium Protection ($40.00 / year) covers up to 10 devices and includes BullGuard’s full range of features, including identity theft protections for users in the US, Canada, and much of Western Europe.
BullGuard’s anti-malware scanner successfully caught all of the spyware and other malware in my tests, but it slowed down my system performance during the scan. BullGuard also comes with a good game booster for improving gaming performance, and identity theft protection for users in the US, Canada, and some parts of Europe on its top plan. All of BullGuard’s plans are available with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
10. Adaware Antivirus Total — Decent Spyware Protection with File Security Tools
Adaware has grown from being a pretty simple adware-blocker to a decent full antivirus product that offers PCs protection against spyware, ransomware, and other threats.
Adaware’s scanner performed well in my spyware tests, detecting most of the test spyware files that I placed on my PC. But Adaware underperformed in my general malware tests, failing to catch a lot of advanced ransomware and cryptojacker files that the other brands on this list, such as Norton, Avira, and Bitdefender, successfully detected.
Adaware also provides a decent range of additional features, including real-time protection, web protection, network protection, parental controls, and optimization tools. However, while not bad, none of these features are quite as good as the offerings from premium antivirus suites like Norton and Avira.
Adaware has 3 plans: Adaware Antivirus Free, which includes real-time malware protection, Adaware Antivirus Pro, which adds things like the firewall, anti-phishing protections, and parental controls for $36.00 / year, and Adaware Antivirus Total, which adds the system tune-up features and web tracker blocking for $39.99 / year. Adaware is only available for Windows; there are no mobile apps nor macOS compatibility.
Adaware is a decent anti-spyware program that comes with a good range of additional security tools. It has a firewall, web and network protections, and parental controls, but they’re not as good as similar tools from brands like Norton, Avira, or Bitdefender. Adaware doesn’t have a clear money-back guarantee, although it implies refunds within 30 days should be possible. But if you’re curious, you can download Adaware Antivirus Free before you decide if you want to upgrade to one of Adaware’s paid plans.
Best Dedicated Anti-Spyware Software
Bonus. SUPERAntiSpyware — Best for Additional Spyware Protection
SUPERAntiSpyware is an excellent anti-spyware program for Windows PCs, with some additional anti-malware tools.
Even though it’s advertised as an anti-spyware tool, SUPERAntiSpyware also offers decent protections against other types of malware, including adware, trojans, rootkits, and ransomware.
SUPERAntiSpyware doesn’t have any anti-phishing protections or other helpful additional features like a VPN, parental controls, or mobile protections. But SUPERAntiSpyware does provide features such as:
- AI-powered detection engine.
- Real-time threat blocking.
- Automatic updates.
- Scheduled scanning.
- Email notifications.
SUPERAntiSpyware is designed to complement your existing antivirus setup. It’s a great choice if you’ve already found a good antivirus but want to add extra spyware protection as well.
SUPERAntiSpyware offers both a free and a paid version. The free version only performs on-demand scanning. The paid version, SUPERAntiSpyware Pro X, costs $39.95 / year and continuously monitors your device for spyware infections with its AI-Powered engine. It also includes multiple scan options, real-time threat blocking, automatic updates, and email notifications. The Pro X plan is available on a free 14 day trial, and also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
SUPERAntiSpyware is an excellent anti-spyware tool, offering good protection against spyware, adware, and ransomware. You can’t expect it to do everything your antivirus software can do — but if you’re looking for an anti-spyware program to complement your existing antivirus software, SUPERAntiSpyware is a pretty good option.
Bonus. SpywareBlaster — Best for Additional Browsing Protection
SpywareBlaster is a good anti-spyware app for Windows browsers that specializes in blocking ActiveX-based malware.
ActiveX is a software framework that provides interactive website content, mainly on Windows devices. ActiveX controls can be useful — they allow you to play media and fill in forms on websites. But hackers can also use ActiveX controls to gain access to your system. Once inside your system, hackers can install keylogging software, steal your private files, and access your webcam.
SpywareBlaster offers both free and paid versions. SpywareBlaster Free simply protects against spyware and other PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) via its browser extensions. The paid version, SpywareBlaster Autoupdate, which starts at $14.95 / year, additionally provides automatic database updates, easy multi-user coverage, and technical support.
SpywareBlaster doesn’t scan your computer like an antivirus software — it only blocks incoming threats. It’s an affordable option for users that are looking to tighten up their browser security, but it should only be used together with a good antivirus program like Norton or Bitdefender.
SpywareBlaster blocks spyware that aims to hijack your computer via ActiveX website content. However, it’s not a replacement for antivirus software — or even for other dedicated anti-spyware applications. You’ll need an additional antivirus software like Norton to protect you from other types of malware.
Bonus. Spybot – Search and Destroy — Best for Advanced Users
Spybot – Search and Destroy uses active scanning to prevent spyware and other types of malware from making changes on your computer, and it can also perform full spyware scans of your system.
During my tests, Spybot’s scanning engine caught and removed all of the test spyware, adware, and PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) on my PC. But Spybot doesn’t provide a lot of the additional features that the best antivirus programs like Norton and Avira do.
However, Spybot does contain some advanced features to protect your device from spyware and adware, including:
- Real-time spyware scanning.
- Antivirus scanning.
- Cookies and plugins blocker.
- Rootkit scan.
Spybot offers both free and paid plans. Spybot – Search and Destroy Free comes with anti-spyware tools, the rootkit scan, and the cookies and plugins blocker. Upgrading to one of the paid plans like Spybot – Search and Destroy Professional adds antivirus protection and real-time scanning (for $27.77 / year).
Spybot – Search and Destroy is a surprisingly good anti-spyware and anti-malware app. However, it doesn’t have features like phishing protection, a VPN, or device optimization tools, like Norton or Avira offer. Spybot offers free and paid plans, as well as bulk deals for enterprise users.
Comparison of the Best Anti-Spyware Software in 2022
|Product||Starting Price||Free Version||Removes Spyware Infections||Anti-Malware Scanning||Blocks Phishing Sites||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1.🥇Norton||$9.99 / year||❌||✅||✅||✅||60 days|
|2.🥈Bitdefender||$23.99 / year||❌||✅||✅||✅||30 days|
|3.🥉Intego for Mac||$19.99 / year||❌||✅||✅||❌||30 days|
|4. TotalAV||$29.00 / year||✅||✅||✅||✅||30 days|
|5. McAfee||$49.99 / year||❌||✅||✅||✅||30 days|
|6. Avira||$45.99 / year||✅||✅||✅||✅||60 days|
|7. Malwarebytes||$39.99 / year||✅||✅||✅||✅||60 days|
|8. MacKeeper||$10.95 / month||❌||✅||✅||❌||14 days|
|9. BullGuard||$9.99 / year||❌||✅||✅||✅||30 days|
|10. Adaware||$36.00 / year||✅||✅||✅||✅||unclear|
|Bonus. SUPERAntiSpyware||$39.95 / year||✅||✅||✅||❌||30 days|
|Bonus. SpywareBlaster||$14.95 / year||✅||❌ (active scanning only)||❌||❌||none|
|Bonus. Spybot — Search and Destroy||$27.77 / year||✅||✅||✅||❌||none|
How to Choose the Best Anti-Spyware Software in 2022
- Effective spyware removal and protection. There are a lot of anti-spyware and antivirus products on the market, but they aren’t all equal, so make sure you choose a quality product that is proven to protect against spyware. I tested all of the anti-spyware software on this list to make sure they were capable of identifying and blocking known spyware threats, and I only included the products with 100% (or near-perfect) spyware detection rates.
- Real-time protection. Real-time protection means your device is constantly protected against new threats, and any spyware (and other malware) is blocked before it can even infect your device. I tested the real-time engines of every antivirus program on this list with a series of spyware as well as viruses, adware, ransomware, and other common types of malware, and I made sure that the recommended products could all handle even the most sophisticated real-time threats.
- Complete virus and malware protection. If you don’t already have a separate antivirus on your device, you should get a full-suite antivirus rather than a standalone anti-spyware software. All quality antivirus products will protect against spyware in addition to all other types of malware threats, and it’s important you protect yourself against all types of threat, not only spyware. I separated all the recommended products on this list into two sections, so all those in the first section — Antivirus software that includes anti-spyware capabilities — are suitable products to protect against spyware as well as most other online threats.
- Additional features. There are a wide range of additional features that come bundled with antivirus software these days, which are likely to be extremely useful in terms of your overall internet security and/or your device’s performance. These include features such as system clean-up and optimization tools, VPNs (virtual private networks), identity theft protection, password managers, parental controls, and much more. Make sure you choose a product that includes the features that are most important to you.
- Ease of use. Most anti-spyware and antivirus products are pretty easy to use, but some are more advanced than others. It’s important that you (personally) find the product you’ve chosen easy to use, so I always suggest opting for an antivirus with a free trial or a money-back guarantee so that you can ensure you’re happy with it before committing long term.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Kaspersky. Kaspersky is a quality cybersecurity product. But it’s more expensive than a number of other products on this list, and most of its additional features aren’t as good as my top choices.
- Panda Dome. Panda is another decent product, but its web protection detected less than 50% of the phishing sites in my tests.
- Avast/AVG. Avast/AVG has been accused of selling user data. I have a big problem with cybersecurity companies giving away their users’ information, especially without the user’s knowledge. Thankfully, there’s also no need to use a company with these shady practices when there are so many other great options around.
Frequently Asked Questions about Spyware & Anti-Spyware Software
What is spyware and what is anti-spyware software?
Spyware is any malware file designed to steal user data. Some spyware applications are, at most, annoying — they will insert unwanted search results or websites into your browser window, or passively send your metadata to advertisers. But some spyware infections can be devastating — resulting in hackers gaining full control of your computer, accessing your finances, and downloading ransomware or other serious malware onto your system.
Anti-spyware software is a type of software that detects, removes, and protects against spyware. The best anti-spyware software, like Norton 360, provides real-time protection to prevent spyware from infecting your device — Norton also protects against every other type of known malware, including rootkits, ransomware, trojans, and cryptojackers.
Are anti-spyware and antivirus software the same thing?
Not necessarily, but most of the top anti-spyware software is found inside antivirus software. Most antivirus programs offer anti-spyware and anti-malware protection, but most anti-spyware tools only offer protection against spyware and adware.
In my testing, premium anti-malware suites like Norton, Bitdefender, and TotalAV offered the highest detection rates for both spyware and other types of malware. These premium suites cost more, but they also offer internet security tools like anti-phishing protection, VPNs, password managers, dark web monitoring, and mobile device protection.
But there are a few dedicated anti-spyware tools whose sole purpose is to detect and remove spyware. Spybot — Search & Destroy, for instance, has some strong spyware scanning and detection capabilities.
How does anti-spyware software work?
Anti-spyware software scans your files and compares the contents of your disk with a directory of known spyware files. Anti-malware scanners like Norton, McAfee, and Avira also use heuristics and machine learning to detect zero-day threats based on a file’s behavior.
Almost all of the anti-spyware tools on my list can also perform real-time threat detection, analyzing files before they’re downloaded to prevent a spyware infection from occurring.
In addition to malware scanning and real-time protection, full-suite antivirus/anti-spyware software can:
- Encrypt your keystrokes.
- Block access to your camera or microphone.
- Scan the dark web for personal data leaks.
- Hide your files.
- Hide your IP address.
How do I install anti-spyware software?
Installing anti-spyware software is pretty easy. Just follow these steps:
- Pick an anti-spyware (or complete antivirus) program. My #1 anti-spyware choice is Norton 360 — it’s a feature-rich and easy-to-use antivirus application that provides total spyware protection. For users that are looking for a lightweight, specialized anti-spyware tool, SUPERAntiSpyware is a good option.
- Download the program. Whichever software you decide on, follow one of our links to get the best deals available. Some of these vendors offer free plans or free trials, and most of them offer money-back guarantees.
- Click “install” & run the installer. All of the anti-spyware programs on this list come with an installer that will walk you through the installation process. Simply accept the EULA (End User License Agreement), accept the program destination, and you will have a high-quality anti-spyware solution running in no time.