Spyware, Adware, Malware or whatever you want to call it has become the
single biggest nuisance on the web. In the last few years its become
even worse with the addition of rogue antivirus, and other rogue
malware applications that install without your permission on your
computer and then want you to purchase them to fix the problems they
have created. I get at least 1 to 5 calls per week from customers that
need to remove one of these rogue malware programs from their computer.
Many of my weekly calls consist of spyware removal or malware removal
from an infected machine.
These spyware and malware problems have become very advanced over the
years with the ability to download a trojan virus into your system that
can take control and install other malware from the Internet all
without you doing anything. Viruses and Trojans that steal personal
information, track keystrokes, turn your computer into a spam sending
drone, and more. Sometimes the frustration can lead users to abandon
their computer altogether or just buy a new computer because its an
easier fix than trying to remove the spyware from it.
Over the years I have created many pages with detailed
step-by-step directions on how to remove these various spyware, adware,
and malware products. All of these pages are linked below in hopes that
they help you remove these nasty programs from your computer.
What is Adware, Spyware, or Malware?
The terms spyware, adware, malware and such are used interchangeable
among most users. The minor differences are:
is a way for programmers to make money
from their product rather than selling it. They can give the software
away for free and the ads in the software will make enough money for
them to cover the cost of giving it away. Even trial software like the
latest version of Microsoft Office uses the adware concept to allow
users to use the product without buying the full version.
programs that will spy on your computer activities for market research
or worse yet may use keyloggers and other products to actually steal
personal information from your computer. This personal information
could be used in identity theft or other criminal activities. Although
the term spyware is a general term that is sometimes used for any of
generic term to describe malicious software that installs itself on
your computer to cause harm. Rogue antivirus, rogue spyware, keyloggers
and other programs can be grouped into this malware category.
How Can I Tell If My Computer is Infected with Spyware,
Adware, Malware, or a Virus?
First of all, let's discuss how can I tell if I have adware, spyware,
or malware on my computer. Generally, you will find symptoms such as
your computer running very slowly, pop up ads, programs that have taken
over your computer (rogue spyware) and will not allow you to work,
settings for your browser home page and search have changed, additional
toolbars have been added to your browser, or additional programs have
been installed on your computer without your permission.
To confirm the existence of spyware, viruses, malware, and such, use
the procedure outlined below.
Open MSConfig and look
for suspicious programs running in Startup or Services
Open Task Manager and
Look for Suspicious Programs running under the Processes tab
- Click on Start and Type MSConfig and Press Enter (for
Windows Vista/7) or Click on Start, Run, and type MSConfig and Press
Enter (for Windows XP)
- Click on the Startup tab and look for any suspicious files.
Normally programs do not run directly from an Application Data or
Program Data directory, or directly from Windows\System32. If you see
startup entries like these, they are probably viruses, spyware,
malware, etc. You can uncheck them and restart your computer to test
it. Note: unchecking an entry does not remove it from the system, it
just stops it from starting up immediately. Do not uncheck a suspicious
file, restart your computer, and think you have removed it. All you
have done is confirmed the file is bad. You'll need to complete other
steps to actually remove it.
You'll notice in both the examples above a suspicious, randomly named,
file running in a directory that you normally do not run programs from.
This is a clear indication of a virus, malware, spyware, adware, or
other nasty program running on your computer.
Right-click on the Taskbar and click on Task Manager to Open
If you are unable to open Task Manager, then you most likely do have a
virus, spyware, malware, etc. Please read my article on Fixing Task Manager
and then proceed to remove the infection on your computer.
If you see any unusual programs running in Task Manager, you can use
Google to search for the name of the process and check it out. Anything
that appears to be randomly named is most likely a problem.
How to Remove Spyware, Malware, Adware from My Computer
Almost all of the other "removal" pages you find on the Internet will
give you a list of files, directories, and registry entries that were
created by the malware. Then they will tell you to use Task Manager and
"End the Process" and delete the file. Unfortunately, that type of
instruction does not work in all cases. Some files you will not be able
to end or delete. Then what? I try to provide a clear method using Safe
Mode and well known removal tools that will work in almost all cases.
With that being said, now that it has been determined we have
spyware, malware, or a virus on our
computer, we need to remove it. Follow these steps to remove the
Use a Recommended Spyware
Removal Program to Remove the Infection
I have a real problem with the hundreds of web sites on the Internet
that pretend to tell you how to remove a piece of malware only to steer
you toward a software program that you have to buy to actually remove
the issue. Almost all the tools I use on a daily basis are free. There
are paid versions of the programs that may do more, but the free
programs will still remove the spyware or virus absolutely free.
Choose one of the spyware removal programs below, Start Windows in Safe Mode
and run the removal program to eliminate the malware. Why Start in Safe
Mode first? Many program will simply not let you run a removal program,
or even download it in normal mode. Generally, you will be able to do
this is safe mode.
Here are the Spyware
Removal Programs I Recommend Using
Tops on my list of spyware removal programs in Malwarebytes
Anti-Malware. A true beast of a removal tool, the author of the program
actually started out designing a removal tool for the About:Blank
continued his research and finally developed a full fledged removal
program for almost anything including spyware, malware, adware,
viruses, rootkits, trojans, and more.
Another top notch program to help remove all kinds of malware and
viruses. It comes in second place because it can become a little
overzealous sometimes. I have had multiple instances where its actually
blocked good programs from running entirely because it thought they
were malware. Still a good removal program, though.
One of the original spyware removal programs and still a very good one,
although it hasnt kept up with the first two programs in my opinion in
removing some stubborn threats to your computer.
Probably one of the most used programs on the Internet today because
its made by Microsoft. It appears to be a good solution, but not as
advanced as some of the other tools.
of more spyware removal programs
In some cases, you may need specialized removal tools to remove a piece
of malware or virus.
Tools for Removing Spyware, Adware and Malware
Sometimes only specialized tools will remove the spyware, malware,
scareware, and other bad programs from your computer. Here are links to
the best tools for removing spyware including programs like
CWShredder, OmegaKiller, Hijackthis, Combofix and more.
Rootkits are programs that hide from normal removal tools and can cause
major damage. Google redirects and other issues are caused by rootkits
that are invisible to normal malware removal software. They are
difficult to remove without the proper specialized removal tools that
can be found on this page.
Fixing Other Issues that Spyware or Malware Caused
For Step by Step Detailed Directions for Removing Specific
Spyware, Adware, and other Malware
click on the links below:
Written by Mark Hasting