We already talked about how to start using Spybot – Search & Destroy and you’ve learned the most important basic features to keep your computer running smoothly and free of spyware. Now there are some remaining advanced features that can be really useful for those users to make extra sure that the computer is clean.
Alright let’s dive in… To start, from the file menu at the top of the window, click Mode, then select Advanced mode, then click Yes. This will enable the advanced options (note that some of the options in this mode can harm your computer if you don’t understand what you are doing).
You will notice that in the left-pane are three new section: Settings, Tools, Info & License, we are going to be focus in the most important options of the first two sections.
First lets start with Settings, here we have:
- File Sets: While it is always a good idea to scan for every threat in your computer, Spybot allows you to exclude certain problems from the scan. If you know what kind of spyware is in your system you can speed up the scan process by excluding the ones you don’t need.
- Settings: All the default settings are the recommended you should have, but if you need some specific personalization or you want to revert a setting that you changed, this is the place to come and configure. From Settings you can changes options like essential warning and configuration dialogs, when to start Spybot – Search & Destroy, check for update automatically, etc.
- Directories: Some scans also target the installer files of the problems detected by Spybot-S&D. Installers that the user must explicitely download himself will only be scanned for in the directories entered into this list.
- Scheduler: In this section you can set up automatic Spybot scan schedules (if Windows scheduler is enabled) or view details of already set up schedules.
- Ignore products: This is almost the same as File Sets, but you can browse deeper by category for each product that Spybot can detect. If you check a product in this section, it will be excluded during the scan.
- Ignore cookies: Spybot can list all of your cookies stored in Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Google Chrome, and you can choose which ones to ignore and they will not be scan.
You can also ignore file extensions, single entries and System Internals (e.g. Windows files like winnt.exe, services.exe, etc.).
In Tools (walk with caution) you are going to find great tools that will allow you to determine why spyware is not detected in a normal scan, and to clean up and optimize your system:
- View Reports: With this handy tool you can create custom reports, view old reports, and you can also save them for future reference.
- Resident: There are two residents in Spybot – Search & Destroy and you can enable or disable them from here. The first is SDHelper, this tool will block files downloaded that are known malicious for your system, and the second is TeaTimer, this tool keeps track of processes called/initiated. It can quickly identify known malicious processes trying to take action in your system and it will give some options to handle the process in the future.
- System Internals: This tool will check for inconsistency (e.g. missing help files, missing shared DLLs, Application paths, Wrong Uninstall information and Broken Desktop Links) in Windows’ registry (make sure that you understand that changing settings in the Windows’ registry can cause problems if you don’t know what you are doing).
- System Startup: Like in Windows msconfig, Spybot can display all the programs that launch at the system start-up and from here you can disable or enable them back. Additionally it gives you a more information about each entry, and you will also notice that this tool can display if the program is legit (Green), if it is unknown, unneeded or unambiguous program (Yellow), or malicious program (Red).
- Winsock LSPs: This shows a report that list information about the network drivers and protocols installed in your system that you can export for future reference if a spyware changes any of this configuration.
If you click Tools again you will notice that not all the tools are enabled, while they are all useful, the one that I thought was interesting to take a look was:
- Browser Pages: Sometimes if your browser redirect you to a homepage that you didn’t configure and you cannot change it back to the original, it will probably be listed and you can change it from here.
As you can see Spybot – Search & Destroy is a very powerful free anti-spyware software that has a lot of great tools to deal with almost any spyware that you can come across. Some spyware can be nasty but just be patient, read and understand the basic and advanced tools before using them and you’ll see that you will succeed getting them out of your computer.