How To: Remove Spyware/Adware for Good
If you use a computer and the Internet, I am sure you have been exposed to Spyware and Adware even though you might not know it. Spyware/Adware is just as prevalent as spam and it can cause a lot of problems, slowing down productivity. If you suffer from becoming Spyware frequently you might want to take a look at your web surfing history. If you frequent hacking, warez, porn, or freeware sites you might be getting spyware just by visitng these types of sites. Hacking, Warez and porn sites are known to transmit a lot of viruses and spyware.
Freeware is software that is free, no questions asked, but it usually comes with a price. Freeware and shareware are often times bundled with Spyware that the average user won’t even realize. When consenting to install and use some freeware/shareware, you are agreeing for spyware to be installed on your computer. You wouldn’t know this is happening unless you read the software agreements that contain pages and pages of legal text. Technically, most Adaware and Spyware is legal. Ethically it seems wrong, but so does spam. The kind of spyware that is illegal is Malware, which behave more like a virus.
First things first, download all available Windows Updates and patches that are available. If your computer isn’t patched correctly, it is an open window begging for something bad to happen. Make sure that you download all critical updates. If you run Windows XP, make sure that you install service pack 2! After you have your patches make sure downloading a reputable popup blocker such as the Google Toolbar, which has a built in pop up blocker. There are thousands of pop up blockers and I am not going to spend my time rating them. There are some good ones on www.download.com
Update Virus Definitions
You should now take the time to update your virus definitions and run a virus scan to make sure that you don’t have any viruses. If you don’t have any viruses then it is safe to proceed to the next step.
Install Anti-Spyware Software
As spyware becomes more prevalent, so do the ways to combat it. I have even saw instances of programs that purport their ability to remove spyware; even though they do nothing more than remove their competitors and install more junk on your computer. I use three known and trusted programs and they have done a wonderful job of removing spyware. Most Anti-Spyware programs operate like an anti-virus program. There are definitions that must be downloaded to protect you against new threats. Some also include types of shields that protect you in real time. You should typically use more than one Anti-Spyware program; some programs will pick up threats that the others won’t. I suggest downloading and installing Adaware SE, Spybot: Search and Destroy, and Webroot SpySweeper. These can all be downloaded for free at www.download.com I suggest buying Webroot’s SpySweeper because it is easy to use and it does a good job of protecting your computer from future threats. It is only $30 and it is worth it! Trust me.
Run a Spy-Sweep
1. Open Adaware SE and download the latest definitions.
2. Run a scan of all local hard drives.
3. Remove all traces and delete whatever is in the quarantine.
4. Reboot your computer and start it up in Safe Mode by pressing F8.
5. Run Ad Aware SE in safe mode and it might find more spyware.
6. Repeat the processes above with your other anti-spyware programs.
After removing spyware I like to reboot up in safe mode so it only starts the necessary services needed to run windows in a “safe mode”. Spyware/Adware/Malware operate by running in the background and if these programs are running, then your anti-spyware program won’t be able to delete them.
It is possible to run more than one program and sweep at a time, but it would be a good idea to run them all in a sequential order.
Okay! You have now removed all Spyware with the programs I suggested and you think you still might have Spyware? I have a few tips that will help in manually removing these pests. If you have experience in editing the registry then don’t be scared. If you have never messed around with the registry I suggest reading up on it first. You need to know what the registry is and what it does. You will also need to learn how to back it up because this is where things start to get complicated. I will cover this in more in my next installation of How to. In the meantime have fun at beating those crooked bastards at their own game.