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How to Get Rid of Spyware

One day you’re using the computer and it starts messing up. It might shut down without warning, stop running certain programs, slow down your progress, or display random pop-up advertisements when you are surfing the Internet.

You start to suspect that your computer has been infected with spyware, and so your first instinct is to get rid of it so you can return to safely and easily using your computer.

1. What is spyware?

Many computer users do not actually understand what spyware is, and some of the symptoms that were mentioned above can be the result of other causes like running too many programs at once. It’s important to understand what spyware is, what it can do, and if you truly have spyware on your computer so you can deal with it.

Spyware is classified as a software program or application that has been installed on a computer without the knowledge or consent of the user. Depending on the specific spyware that has infected a computer, the effects can be different.

These programs can be really invasive, even going as far as letting a third party login to your account and changing all your passwords.

While some spyware is easily identifiable, there are many more that are hard to pick out. This could be because they work well in the background and are not noticeable, or that they are disguised as legitimate programs.

Lists of spyware can be found on the internet, and if you are ever in doubt on if a program you have installed on your computer or are considering installing, simply try searching the name of the program along with the word spyware into Google.

Some programs that are actually considered spyware include KaZaa, which also comes with a number of other spyware bundled with its installation; CoolWebSearch, found in internet browsers out of nowhere. One of the more surprising bits of spyware out there is the Ask Toolbar. It’s been around for a while, so most would think it’s harmless. Anti-virus programs are only now starting to identify it as spyware.

2. Run an Anti-Virus Scan

After you’ve figured out that your computer has been infected with spyware, the next thing that you should do is run a complete scan on your computer using an anti-virus program. This should allow you to remove almost all of the most common spyware programs, and even some of the harder to remove ones.
If you do not already have an anti-virus program that removes spyware on your computer, you should look at installing one now. Keep in mind however, that you may need to download it on another computer before transferring it by a USB drive. Lots of spyware programs will try their hardest to stop you from installing anti-virus software.

Some popular and effective anti-virus programs that you can install include AVG Anti-virus, Norton Anti-virus, McAfee Anti-virus, Super Anti-Spyware, Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, and the many programs under IoBit that help with spyware identification and removal.

When you are choosing an anti-virus program to help get rid of your spyware, it’s important to consider that some programs (mostly commercial ones where you have to pay for their use) may actually name other popular anti-virus programs as spyware.

This is normally done in an attempt to reduce the competition. This is also becoming less common, but it does sometimes still happen, so if you are considering downloading more than one anti-virus program you should check and make sure that they will work with each other.

3. Examine Installed Programs

If you have run your computer scans, but your computer still seems to be infected with spyware, you should check the list of installed programs on your computer. Run through the list and identify any programs that you do not recognize. If you didn’t install them yourself, they could very well be spyware and you should make sure that you uninstall them now.

You can also check recently installed programs if your computer has just begun causing you problems, as you could have accidently downloaded spyware onto your computer.

A good tip for uninstalling programs would be to use IoBit’s Uninstaller. Like the basic uninstall tools on every computer regardless of whether it is a PC or a Mac, this uninstall tool comes with a basic uninstall method. However, you can also do batch uninstalls where you select multiple programs to uninstall at the same time.

In addition, the IoBit Uninstaller also performs what it calls a ‘Powerful Uninstall’, where after it does the basic actions, it will rescan your computer to identify any leftover files and extensions that the program may have left behind. It will then ask you which ones you would like to uninstall.

4. Choose a Restore Point

If your computer still isn’t running properly, go to your system’s restore program and pick out a restore point (whether automatically or manually created) from before your computer had the spyware.

All you need to do now is run the system restore function, and your computer will do the rest. However, you should always back up you files before running this program as it will delete all files and programs downloaded after the chosen restore point.

5. Factory Reset

Unfortunately, if you have gone through all of the above steps and none of them have worked, your only other option is really to just do a complete factory reset on your computer. Luckily, it is rare that you will be reduced to doing this, as most spyware can be removed using one or more of the previous steps.

Just like choosing a restoration point, you will want to create a backup of the files you want saved on a USB drive or external hard drive. Make sure that you are 100 percent positive that these files are not compromised by the spyware infecting your computer before you back them up.

6. Regular Checkups

Now that you have successfully removed the spyware infecting your computer, you still have a little bit of work to do. In order to stop spyware from returning to your computer, you need to perform regular checkups on your computer.

Schedule automatic scans from your anti-virus program, even if they only examine the critical areas of your computer. If you only have them examine the critical areas of your computer, you should also be prepared to manually perform a complete scan of your computer.

While you are free to determine your own schedule for scanning and ensuring your computer is free of spyware, it is recommended that you perform scans no more than one week apart from one another. Beyond frequently checking for spyware, this also makes sure that if your computer does get infected with spyware again, you won’t have to lose as much data this time around.

Cleaning your computer happens to be the least physically demanding duty out there, so kick your feet up and relax. Let your computer do the fixing for you!

About the author

Nicole Harding

21 Comments

  • i used to have ad aware but now i use windows defender. seems better. also when all else fails.. just back up all important files and reformat that drive and reinstall your operating system. 100% solution if you’re not lazy and have tried everything else and failed and your comp is really slow as a result.

  • ctrl+alt delete anything unfamiliar… (might not be safe if you’re already not familiar) spybot search and destroy isn’t too bad either

  • system detected a number of active spyware application…i just want to know what i have to do to get rid of it??? could u advise me o good way or antivirus to solve this problem because i can’t trust all the antivirus available on the internet…

    thank u so much for your dealing…

    i am waiting for your advices…

  • I just downloaded Spybot Search and Destroy and it completely erradicated the virus on my computer that was getting out of hand. After trying to go back to earlier dates and using another program (not ad-aware, another program I’d found online)that both did nothing, this took care of it. THANK YOU so much for this site, it is really nice to see that there are people out there who want to help and aren’t just after your money.

  • this is not a tip I NEED HELP!!
    DESKTOP IS RED LIKE THE DEVIL WITH HORNS!
    “system defender” virus has infected my system.
    need help on getting it off. it is linked to my desktop which is now explorer. my dessktop is now a browser
    HELP!!

  • Have tried everything to get rid of Ultimate Cleaner 2007 it has latched on like nothing else, I have Spybot and Alvira. All protection I thought I needed and it’s on my hard drive in my memory, How can I remove all of this, even windows is givingme security alerts to download the xpantivirus which is bad, what is going on? Please help???

  • DON’T USE WINDOWS DEFENDER
    although it may be good at getting rid of virus and spyware. most viruses and spyware are made to get past windows. which is what WINDOWS DEFENDER is.

    i also use Ad-Aware Not to fond of Spybot S and D

  • This does still not work on my tollbar there is something saying remove popups scan spyware and when i take it off it comes back on what can i do?? And also when i go on to internet explorer a yellow/gold box comes up at the top sayin you have spywaye click here for free scan i know that is a virus how do i get rid of it can someone pleasu help
    thank you

  • My desktop screen is blue with a big sign that says Warning! Spyware On Your Computer! Install An Antivirus Or Spyware Remover to clean your computer. I have run McAfee Virus Scan and cannot get this off of my desktop. I have also tried to change the desktop background from the Start menu and cannot find the background tab. How can I remove this from my computer?

  • I keep getting a pop-up for antivirus. I took your advice and ran Spybot Search and Destroy. It found some problems, one which reads: Fraud.XP Antivirus…..2 entries malware. It is still in my computer after trying to remove it. PLEASE HELP if you can. I don’t know what else to try. My antivirus program shows no viruses, no adware and no spyware. This is a new computer and I am totally disgusted with this pop-up.

    Thanks.

  • I also have the “System Defender” virus.
    I tried looking in the regedit as this was the only way of getting rid
    of the hyjack browser virus 3 years ago.

    I will run one of these software programs, if they give the string in the regedit, I will post it here.

  • (this is not a tip i need help please) Hi, can you please help. We purchased a lap to for our daughters school work recently and she has now managed to download a virus on to it. We have AVG spyware already installed and it states that there are no threats, following several scans. However we have two issues that we need help with, the first is a security toolbar which cannot be removed, idea where this might be coming from and how to get rid of it, the second is an alert that states trojan-spy.win32@mx, i believe that this is linked to the toolbar. Can you please help.

    Thank you

  • Hi, i am frustrated since i upgraded my norton 360, previously everything was fine but since i upgraded my norton 360 everything is messed up, i m getting popups, popunders, i tried a lot to get rid of them but failed, yahoo pop up blocker is blocking popups but only if i get any link thru email. Otherwise when i close my browsing site then i find 4-5 windows r there, please help me for that!
    Ippsa

  • I have AVG, Lavasoft adaware, and I’ve tried spy s&d. While AVG and ad aware are great, they take a very long time in scanning the hard drive, as does spybot s&d. I use a program called ccleaner that is superfast, and as far as I can tell is just as effective as the previously mentioned programs. I love AVGs link scanner, it forewarns you of websites that are infected so you can stay clear of them. I also use firefox and use very very few add-ons, my favorite is the ABP add-on. It prevents a significant number of ads from loading keeping my computer running faster LOVE IT.

  • My internet is not working at all and windows is giving me a ton of security alerts. I had an expired norton antivirus account, so I am sure that I have an infection. I want to download a new antivirus through my internet company but I need to be on the internet in order to do this. What do I do? Please help.

  • Hi, my name is Diamond and I use Mozilla Fire Fox. But I have this yahoo toolbar that I got when I downloaded Mixcraft. I have no clue what so ever on how to get rid of this! Its causing so many problems and wont allow me to log into anything such as Facebook, emails, Myspace, NOTHING! Please help me!

  • To delete toolbars and other add-ons simply go to my computer> then go to programs and features> then delete any un-needed toolbars and add-ons. hope that helps you.

  • People think that there is actually no difference between a spyware and an adware. Spyware is just a web term used to refer to an advertising supported software, which is otherwise known as adware. These are the pop-up ads that often come out whenever we open a website or download a shareware software. But according to some web experts, spyware is much much more.,,,kj

  • I used to have all sorts of problems with Windows untill I switched to Linux Mint. several great things about Linux Mint are that first of all it has every thing that Windows has and it is FREE and secure. Progeamers are working on the system 24-7 and when someone tries to mess with it they can and do write programs that get rid of the malware then send that program to the distributers who put it out as an update the next day so many times you have the fix before you have the problem. the other thing is Linux will do anything and more that windows will do and more and most all of it it’s Free.

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