It happens to all of us sooner or later. You’re browsing around on the internet, checking out what’s new on your favorite sites, and it happens: an ad pops up on the screen. We all know how annoying pop-up ads are, so you click on the “Cancel” button in the window. Pretty soon your computer is running horribly slow and you’re getting pop-ups even when you’re not actively surfing the internet. You’ve just been infected by spyware! Not to worry, though. This article will walk you through some easy steps that you can follow to stomp out spyware for good, so read on!
Setting up Your Tools
Most spyware can be removed manually, but each individual spyware program has its own set of files and registry settings that can make even experienced IT guys get a migraine. Fortunately, there are a lot of good programs out there for free that will automatically do the work for you. Some of those nasty spyware programs have ways of hiding themselves that even the best repair guy can have trouble tracking down, but I’m about to give you the edge with 3 free programs that will kick the spyware baddies out of your PC for good.
For most basic spyware removal, Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware will do the job just fine. You can download the free edition HERE. Download and install the program, and make sure you update the definition files from the update menu. Then, run a full scan of your computer and see what it finds. Everything is pretty self explanatory with this program, but there are some various options for the more advanced users. For the newbie, using all the default settings is normally fine to get rid of anything your computer might have picked up from the dark recesses of the ‘net.
Sometimes, you’ll get a spyware program that Ad-Aware can’t get rid of. Your next line of defense is MalwareBytes’ AntiMalware. You can get the free version of this one HERE. Installing and scanning are basically the same steps as for Ad-Aware listed above. Again, there are various options for more advanced users, and this program tends to find more spyware programs than Ad-Aware in my personal experience.
Recently, I came across a nasty spyware called Rootkit.agent/UAC.Fake. It did everything from displaying random web pages and playing sounds all by itself to causing my other antivirus and antispyware programs to stop working. But not to fear, it too can be defeated with an automatic program: SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition. You can download this bad boy HERE. Now, download and install this program just like the others. However, for the best scanning, the steps are a little different.
First, you want to reboot your computer into safe mode. In Windows XP, you press F8 repeatedly when the system is starting up and it will give you a menu with various options. Safe mode is near the top. You can choose with or without networking for this, it’s not really important.
Next, you want to click on the Start menu and find the SuperAntiSpyware folder for the program you just installed. Click on the “SuperAntiSpyware Alternate Start” link. Basically, this will change the name of the program so that the spyware can’t find it and keep it from running.
Next, go into preferences and click on the “Scanning Options” tab, then check the box for “Terminate Memory Threats Before Quarantining” box. Now you’re ready to run your scan.
Finally, you want to run a full system scan on your PC and wait for it to finish. This can take a long time depending on the speed of your computer and how many files you have. I have a pretty decent system personally, and a full scan takes a little over an hour for me with nothing else running, so give it some time to finish. Once it’s done, it may say you have to restart your system. If so, click on yes to restart.
Once the system has restarted, you may want to run another scan just to verify that everything is cleaned from your system. Congratulations! You should now be spyware free, so go check out some fun things to do on the internet that are completely FREE!