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Spyware Doctor

Spyware Doctor is a spyware removal product for Microsoft Windows developed by PC Tools.

Spyware Doctor scans a PC for spyware, examining files on the hard drive, objects in memory, the Windows registry and cookies, and then attempts to quarantine or remove recognized threats. It also includes real-time protection which attempts to block threats from being saved to the disk, set to startup automatically, suspicious programs running and other detection including new toolbars and add-ons for web browsers.

Spyware Doctor is designed for Windows 2000 and XP. Spyware Doctor also supports 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7.

They implement Automatic Subscription Renewal which unless cancelled causes them to debit your credit card annually.

It is normally purchased as a yearly subscription which includes new versions and updates, and is available online as well as in retail stores. PC Tools, like other security companies such as McAfee and Symantec, has now implemented an automatic renewal system whereby customer’s subscriptions are renewed every year automatically until canceled.

Spyware Doctor is not free, but a free scan version is offered, providing real-time protection and scans for spyware. Only the full version is capable of removing spyware (though a user can use the free version to locate where the spyware is and then manually remove the files and registry entries themselves). Spyware often includes both files located on the hard drive and entries in the Windows registry.

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition was included in the Google Pack in March 2007. This version allows scan and removal of threats using an older version of the program, limited real-time protection, but a database with only 60% of the definition files, which does not include some viral threats.

Spyware Doctor received the PC World Best Buy award in the October 2007 issue of the magazine saying “PC Tools’ Spyware Doctor 5.0 was the clear winner, outperforming the competition at detecting and removing our test set of adware and spyware samples.”

Spyware Doctor has received several Editors’ Choice awards from PC Magazine, including one for Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus 5.5 in 2008. The product has also received numerous other awards from around the globe.

Not all reviews have been positive and early versions of Spyware Doctor 5.0, which the company rewrote from scratch, received some negative commentary. CNET’s Download.com reviews, justifies the 3-star rating by saying, “in our trial scans, Spyware Doctor repeatedly flagged several dozen harmless cookies as potential threats, more than any other antispyware product we tested. We were also unable to learn more about each threat or why Spyware Doctor flagged each.”