Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Review of Sunbelt CounterSpy Anti-Spyware Program version 2.5.1040

Review of CounterSpy (CS) from http://www.sunbelt-software.com/

Knowing my two year subscription to Spy Sweeper was expiring soon, I started searching to see if there was something better out there and decided to try out CounterSpy since it was getting rave reviews from many in the computer security industry.

I was able to purchase it at a special price of only $13.13 for their Halloween special through WXPNews newsletter. I also opted to purchase the 2nd year of the subscription at a special price of $9.98 so the two year subscription was only $23.11... a small price to pay for two years of spyware protection while surfing the net!!!

Prior to writing this review, I first uninstalled my previous anti-spyware, Spy Sweeper (SS) from http://www.webroot.com/, then I ran WinASO Registry Optimizer http://www.winaso.com to clean out any registry entries, rebooted the computer and started the installation of CS.

Even the FREE trial version of WinASO, http://www.winaso.com/ will do a full registry repair but you simply have to keep running it over and over since it will only fix 10 registry entries each time in the FREE trial mode. Once you have your computer cleaned the first time, then weekly WinASO scans will usually only result in 1-2 scans needed to fix things unless you are a heavy downloaded and uninstaller since those two things leave scattered registry entries. The first time you run WinASO, you may have to run it dozens of times to clean your registry properly.

Installation was simple enough and the program did not ask to try and install any 3rd party applications like search bars or tool bars which was a pleasant surprise. So many programs try to push other programs on people and if you click yes, you end up with a bunch of bloated non-essential programs hogging up your resources. It did take a little longer than expected to update the definitions from version 617 to version 667, even with a DSL connection. I had to allow three connections from CS.

According to Task Manager (Cntrl-Alt-Del on Win XP), there were two processes running during the initial scan. SBCSSvc.exe and CounterSpy.exe. During initial scan, highest CPU % noted was 47% by SBCSSvc.exe with the average amount being around 15-30% and 15% by CounterSpy.exe. However, while typing this post, I noticed the CPU usage jump to 99% but not the entire time I was typing so it may have been something it was scanning that caused it to jump up to 99%. It went back down to the 15-30% range after a few seconds at 99%. Peak Mem Usage for SBCSSvc.exe was 219,640K and Peak Mem Usage with the Mem Usage in the 16,000K range during most of the scan. For CounterSpy.exe, the Peak Mem Usage was 40,228K with the Mem Usage in the 20,000K range during most of the scan. I also noticed CounterSpy.exe CPU usage jumping up into the 80% range while it was scanning the registry keys while the SBCSSvc.exe stayed in single digits for CPU usage during the registry scan.

Compared to my previous anti-spyware, Spy Sweeper (SS) from Webroot, CounterSpy (CS) is using much less system resources when running a full system scan. SS would use up into the 80% range during a full system scan and stay at that level or up into the 90% range the entire time so at least with CS, while running a full system scan, you should be able to do other computing without too much hang time occurring.

During scan, CS scanned Memory Processes first and scanned a total of 2,202 with 0 Memory Processes detected with any spyware.

Then it started scanning files. After scanning 117,156 files, it showed 0 detected with spyware.

Then it started scanning registry keys. After scanning 251,553 registry keys, it showed 0 detected with spyware.

Then it scanned Cookies and after scanning 166 cookies, it showed 0 detected with spyware.

A Scan Results window popped up upon completion and it shows total scan time as 59 minutes 20 seconds with a clean bill of health on my computer... which I kind of already knew but I wanted to see what CS might say on it's first scan.

I then started poking around and ran the My PC Checkup which suggested five things that needed to be fixed and it said 77 others were OK. I ran the fix on the five it suggested. It also has a History Eraser and Secure File Eraser. I don't worry about the History Eraser stuff like some folks so I skipped that step but I did try out the Secure File Eraser on a rather persistent file that I've been trying to delete for a week or so but every time I try to delete it, even in safe mode, it shows the file is being used by another program and it won't let me delete the file. I created this video file (.wav) using my webcam with a security program where it would use my webcam to monitor my office to see if anyone came in while I was not around and it created this .wav file that was over 1GB in size and I haven't been able to delete the file because it says the file is being used by another program. I haven't been overly worried about the file but it is something I need to remove so I tried the Secure File Eraser to delete/shred this file but it caused the SFE to hang up and I had to end the SFE task using Task Manager. I'll notify CS tech support about this issue.

I then went through and set up the automatic download of definitions and scan schedules to when I prefer them.

Generally speaking, I like CounterSpy but I'll follow up with further posts as I learn more about it.

Lenny Vasbinder

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  1. The review is very informative and was of a particular interest to me as I'm much concerned about the protection of my data and also try to find the most suitable anti-spyware solution. I've found a software, it's an anti-keylogger, seems to be reliable. It's called PrivacyKeyboard (www.anti-keylogger.com). It has a free trial version and no subscription, once you buy it and all the further updates are free. If is possible I would like the author of this review to post a comment as to this software, I would appreciate the opinion on whether it's really worth running. I've tested the software a bit myself and after that bought it. Though of course I would appreciate a useful advice.

  2. I had never heard of this software so I did some Googling and also checked SpywareWarrior.com and SpywareInfo.com and although the software does not appear to be rogue (as many anti-spyware programs are), it seems to be overpriced at $89.95. I got two years of CounterSpy for $23.13 and it detects key loggers and much, much more. I guess if someone was just going to use the 30 day free trial, it might be helpful if other security programs were not working but from all that I've read, some commercial key loggers and some hardware key loggers will not be detected by nearly any anti-spyware program.

  3. Lenny, thank you for spending time and your opinion. I agree that the price is a bit high, though we bought PrivacyKeyboard because it showed pretty good results at blocking keyloggers, what we saw with our own eyes seemed convincing. You've mentioned the ability to detect not only keyloggers, I also agree on this point, it would be preferable to have more possibilities, though we understand we can hardly demand more from the kind of specialized tool, it's reliable in performing its primary functions, so we chose it. Again thank you for the opinion.

  4. i went to www.counterspy.com and before i was going to buy, i wanted an opinion of its anti-spyware and anti-malware cause i didn't want to slow down my cpu. i read you wrote your CounterSpy.exe CPU usage was at around 80% range and got concerned, but then was reassured when you said it was using less system resources.

    so i tried the free trial of counterspy and now i bought it.

    thanks for taking the time to review it.


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