In its first appearance, CounterSpy was the only antispyware product that correctly identified every piece of spyware in our current active-detection test. It did very well in active scanning, on-demand detection, and complete spyware removal. We also like its overall look and feel. CounterSpy also costs less than the competition (although it's not free, $20 is hard to beat), and includes antivirus protection, as well. Thus, we feel confident in awarding Sunbelt CounterSpy 2.0 our latest Editors' Choice for best antispyware product.
CounterSpy lists for $19.95 for a single user ($44.25 for three users) and runs on Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. A full-function 15-day free trial is available and, unlike some other antispyware apps, the CounterSpy trial both detects and removes any spyware it finds. After our download, CounterSpy asked us to download an update, which subsequently required a reboot, a relatively minor annoyance.
Sunbelt's interface for CounterSpy is intuitive, and of all the antispyware products we tested in December 2007, it was the best. Its screens are clean with plenty of granularity for advanced users, yet not too much detail for those who like their applications simple.
In addition to providing antispyware and antivirus for one low price, we really like the added features within CounterSpy 2.0. For example, CounterSpy gives you instant feedback on any spyware it detects, allowing you to make an informed decision whether to remove it or not. There are also system tools that will suggest enhanced security settings for your PC, change your Start folder, remove browser history and cached files, and also fully erase (i.e. overwrite) deleted data files on your system so they can't be read again in the future.
For antispyware protection, CounterSpy 2.0 comes out on top 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, CounterSpy 2.0 was the only product to discover all of the spyware; in the second, on-demand test, CounterSpy detected 80 percent of the spyware; and in the final, removal test, CounterSpy removed all traces from 70 percent of the spyware in the test.
We did not test nor did we include CounterSpy in our annual CNET antivirus roundup and therefore cannot comment on the effectiveness of the CounterSpy antivirus component.
Sunbelt supports its CounterSpy product well. There is a downloadable 118-page (PDF format) Users Guide (a rarity today, it seems) along with the usual Getting Started documentation, an online knowledgebase, and there's even toll-free telephone support (with the phone number clearly available on the Web site).
We were pleasantly surprised by Sunbelt CounterSpy 2.0. For $20, you can't get better antispyware protection.