Removing Spyware and Adware - TDR
If you browse the Internet on a regular basis, chances are that you have come across spy and adware already. Spyware is the term given to applications which monitor your computer usage and browsing habits, and often run as a background process that the user is completely unaware of. More malicious spyware may even record personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers and pass them on. Adware leans more towards software which monitors your browsing habits and launches pop up windows with related adverts. Whilst often harmless, these applications can become irritating and many are very difficult to remove.
Spyware and adware has numerous effects on your PC, from the obvious pop up windows to more sinister problems such as application errors and interference with firewall and anti virus software.
It is therefore advisable to refrain from installing software from unknown vendors or clicking on pop up windows. You should also be aware that adware and spyware can come bundled with legitimate software as part of the license agreement, so check the agreements of free software very carefully before proceeding to install.
There are numerous ways to get rid of applications such as these, and whilst more ‘respectable’ advert applications have the option to uninstall, the vast majority won’t and will require more effort to remove them properly.
If you suspect you are infected with spy or adware, your first port of call is the Add/Remove programs dialogue box located in Control Panel. This window will list software installed on your machine, and may include instances of spyware and adware that you weren’t aware were installed. Go through the list checking which applications you have installed, and using a search engine such as Google to check on those you don’t recognize. Any software that is reported as spyware or adware should be removed using the change/remove option. Be aware that this may not always actually remove the software, so even if you believe you have removed the offending application(s), it is worthwhile following the next couple of steps.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, or you wish to check that you are free of spy and adware, you should run Ad-Aware or Spybot Search and Destroy. These both scan your PC for known offenders and will give you the option of removing them. Both removal tools will do a fairly thorough job of removing spyware and adware, though there are still instances where they will be unable to remove an application.
For persistent spyware and adware, you may be required to remove it forcefully. If a removal tool finds an application but cannot remove it, you should use a search engine to locate a manual fix. There are numerous resources with information on removing the vast majority of these sorts of programs, though some are fairly involved and may even require you to edit the registry. If you must edit the registry, make a backup copy before you do anything, and check that the removal instructions are from a reliable source.
You will find that you can remove pretty much any instance of spyware or adware, though writers have created more and more complex programs to try and stop you removing them. By going through the checklist above you will be able to remove most if not all programs of this nature.