The version we are reviewing in this article, 1.5.2, was just released a couple of weeks ago and as the developers mention, it contains improved compatibility and more effective detection capabilities. The software can be downloaded for free from the product homepage at Safer-Networking.org.
After agreeing with terms of service you will be able to chose from quite a long list of World languages that Spybot's interface has been translated into. I tried a couple of European languages, but unfortunately the translation was always incomplete (mix of the selected language and English). Minor thing, but I just wanted to mention it. Unlike a majority of similar installations, language selection is also available from the post-setup Spybot usage phase.
When you start Spybot for the first time, you will be presented with a Wizard that will guide you through some of the functions such as backing up your registry etc.
From the user perspective Spybot is a very easy tool to use and therefor it is a perfect type of software you can recommend to non tech-savvy users to scan their computers. There are two steps before actually firing up Spybot's scanner - the first would be to update the signatures database. As I can see, Spybot developers create new detection updates every 7 days and push them both over their web site, as well as through the software interface.
The other step is to immunize the favorite malware target - Internet Explorer. If you are still using it over better and more secure browsers, you will be happy to see that Spybot integrates its protection module in Microsoft's browser and therefor provides preventive measures from inside the browser. I would suggest that after any database update you use the "Immunize" icon from the menu to further secure your Internet Explorer browsing experience.
Spybot's scanning phase on my Windows XP test computer lasted 40 minutes and it found four problems. Problems of course don't equal to security threats, as two of them were (tracking) cookies. From inside the results section you can chose to fix the problems by deleting the files in question, as well as check further information on each problem it finds.
Although not accessible from the SpyBot interface, the installation file also comes with a handy little utility used for securely shredding data.
Spybot Search & Destroy is one of the best standalone anti malware tools out there. If you are using it be sure to donate a couple of bucks to the developers, the software is surely worth it.