This link will give you excellent freeware alternatives, I think. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic3616.html
Good job with the "sheer luck", but I think you should give yourself more credit, since you do understand
the nature of typical malware action being re-direction ... the definition of hi-jacking.
Site blocking or disabling the browser from accessing any given URL (universal resource locator = web address) is an effective way to deal with it. You'll find that within the freeware applications listed at the above link, several use effective techniques in doing this, and they are constantly updating the definitions of the growing number of malware producing URLs online as needed.
People tend to think if they paid for software it must be better than freeware, although this simply is not true.
What you are looking for in anti-spyware (or anti-virus, anti-trojan, anti-most anything) are primarily two things:
1. Does the software perform the function intended in such a way that it is effective?
2. If this technique depends on "definition updating", is that done on a frequent enough basis?
I think XoftSpy would meet that criteria.
The actual implementation of those updates can be done by you,
or automatically by "cooperation between your PC and the appropriate URL involved."
You might have to personally confirm that updates are indeed available, or perhaps be automatically notified of that fact,
and need to perform the simple download/installation yourself. It depends on the software offered how it can be done.
Full automation is often unavailable in freeware, but likely a component of shareware.
Full automation is often not particularly desirable, since using multiple applications in a "layered approach" to help insure
that "what one might miss this week, the other will pick up" can lead to conflicts in the multiple auto-updating feature ...
even if no other conflicts exist between the various programs running on your hard drive.
Without belaboring the issue,
Theres only a handful of unique techniques in the identification of malware types.
All such programs use one or more of them.
Additional considerations to use in comparison "shopping" include:
GUI (the Graphical User Interface) is it "user friendly" and attractive in your eyes?
Speed: Does it work consistently at a pace you feel is appropriate, given your experience?
Fit on PC: Does it work as a good "team player" with other applications you've installed?
To a large extent trial & error experimentation is required before good decisions are made,
and trade-offs regarding personal criteria before final determinations are to be expected.
Good software retailers generally anticipate this and offer trial periods. Shareware it's called.
One last comment.
If software doesn't uninstall easily or properly, I downgrade it's value to me.
Edited by phawgg, 03 February 2006 - 04:22 PM.