The enhanced antirootkit protection within Spyware Doctor 5.x remains disabled by default. There's a warning on the configuration screen that enabling this feature requires vigilance, as the PCTools antirootkit heuristic findings may include false positives.
Real-time protection can be enabled or disabled, a curious distinction. One might disable real-time protection, for example, to lessen the impact on system resources, relying upon a thorough scan of the system to root out any spyware that had recently installed. The scans were fast, but we found during multiple scans that Spyware Doctor sometimes consumed more than 20 percent of our system resources, yet this was still better than similar performance under Spyware Doctor 5.0..
For antispyware protection, PCTools Spyware Doctor 5.1 placed in the lower half of the pack in our current CNET antispyware tests. CNET labs conducts three separate tests using spyware found to be bundled within free applications rejected by CNET Download.com (as part of its software policies, Download.com does not host applications containing known spyware). In the first test, active detection, PCTools Spyware Doctor detected 70 percent of the spyware; in the second, on demand test, PCTools Spyware Doctor detected 75 percent of the spyware; however, in the removal test, PCTools Spyware Doctor removed all traces for only 30 percent of the spyware in our test, thus lowering its overall score.
CNET did not test the antivirus components of this product in our annual survey of antivirus products, and thus can offer no recommendations.
Upon installation, PCTools provides Spyware Doctor users with a Quick Start guide, a general one-page guide to the program's basic features. Online, PcTools maintains a robust user community forum., and we found the Spyware Doctor FAQ to be adequate. After viewing the FAQ, you can answer whether the questions and answers were helpful. Saying "No" moves you to an e-mail feedback page. PCTools offers 24-7 telephone technical support at 1-800-764-5783.
With Spyware Doctor 5.1 PCTools has done a great job in addressing the concerns of users who experienced glitches with version 5.0. They appear to have shored up the product from the inside. But, in looking at the competitive landscape, we think that for less money you can find more thorough antispyware protection in less expensive products.