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LS Tobias

Why does Ad-Aware AE use a service?

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Hi all,


As many of our users want to know why Ad-Aware AE has a service running in the background (AAWService.exe) and why we have separate tray application (AAWTray.exe) we thought we'd try to explain how the different components of Ad-Aware AE work and why the exist in the first place. We understand that many of our loyal users have the original Ad-Aware SE as their reference point with which they compare newer versions of Ad-Aware and as one can expect the differences aren't always intuitive or easy to understand. This is mainly a failure on our side as we have failed to clearly communicate why Ad-Aware has had to evolve into what is today and how the changes involved actually benefit the users. We hope that this post answers some of your questions and we'll try our best to expand the answers if needed.


- How is Ad-Aware AE different from the previous versions?

The most important change in Ad-Aware is that we now offer real-time protection (Ad-Watch Live!) for all our users. The Free version of Ad-Aware will protect your computer by not allowing malware to execute in the first place which stops them from infecting your machine. If you have a paid license your computer will be even more protected as the Plus/Pro licenses extend the scanning and real-time functionality in Ad-Aware with an Anti-Virus engine and registry/network protection.


- Why does Ad-Aware AE have a service (AAWService.exe) running in the background?

Ad-Aware uses a background service to perform scans and provide the Ad-Watch Live! functionality. The background service and the separate GUI is a departure from the classic anti-malware program design where you only had to run a single executable. The reason for this split is two-fold, Windows has evolved in a way which requires the split and secondly Ad-Aware needs to be running in the background to actively protect your computer from being infected by malware.


Starting with Windows Vista Microsoft recommends that programs which need to perform activies which require administrative rights and that need to be running in the background be implemented as background services. Instead of having the GUI running all of the time the Ad-Aware service sits in the background and monitors the computer for malicious activity using as few resources as possible.


The GUI application (Ad-Aware.exe) is separated from the service for security reasons and to ensure that it only consumes resources while it's active. When you launch Ad-Aware it will connect to the background service and perform a scan on your demand. When you close the GUI it will no longer take up any resources and background service will continue to protect your computer while using the least amount of resources possible.


- Why does Ad-Aware AE have a tray application (AAWTray.exe)?

One of the limitations of the background service is that due to security limitations it is not allowed to display a GUI or interact with users in any way. If Ad-Watch Live! detects and stops a malware you will most likely want to be notified about this event. To solve this problem Ad-Aware has a small tray application (instead of the full-blown GUI) which takes care of communicating with the user. When you are prompted by Ad-Watch Live! that it has blocked a malware it is in fact the tray application which is responsible for displaying message. As you can understand, the tray application is a crucial piece of the Ad-Aware machinery and it can't function properly without it.


But what if you find the tray icon annoying or if you feel that it clutters your taskbar? Luckily the icon itself has nothing really to do with functionality of the tray application. To remove the icon simply check the "Hide taskbar icon" setting in the "Appearance" and the tray application will no longer take up space in the taskbar. It will still however continue to run in the background and be able to function properly as before prompting you with notifications if needed.


- How can I make Ad-Aware AE behave like classic Ad-Aware SE?

See this post:

Edit: Fixed broken link


- Why does does Ad-Aware use so much memory and disk space?

Ad-Aware uses a database to detect malware and malicious activity on your computer. The knowledge stored in the database is quite substantial and is expanded as our research teams analyzes more and more malware. To keep your computer safe from new as well as dated malware we almost never remove anything from the database which means that the more malware we can detect the bigger the database will be.


In order detect malware during scans and in real-time via Ad-Watch Live! the database has to be kept in memory for performance reasons. Luckily Ad-Aware is quite clever about how it uses memory for storing the database, even though our malware database almost doubled in size during 2008 the memory usage was kept almost the same.


As for disk space usage, when you install Ad-Aware almost 60% of the required disk space is used to store the malware database. The separate executables do add a bit of overhead but you have to take in account the additional functionality that they provide.




Edited by LS CalamityJane
Fixed broken link

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