Spyware and adware are notoriously stubborn to get rid of. It can be frustrating doing it yourself. However, I’ve found a few basic steps you can take to make the process easier. If your system is heavily infested with spyware and/or adware, you’ll need to have access to a clean computer to download a couple of necessary spyware removal tools. Go to the public library and use their computer, or ask a friend to download the tools for you and burn them to a CD. If you’re going to use a USB drive to transfer downloaded files, make sure both computers have autorun disabled.
1. Disconnect from the Internet
Close all open windows and programs and then disconnect from the Internet. If you can access the back of the computer, simply remove the phone line or cable connecting the PC to the modem/ router. If the back of the computer isn’t accessible, you can remove the Ethernet cable or phone line from the router/ modem.
2. Try a Clean Uninstallation
Known adware and spyware applications surprisingly have their own uninstallers that will remove the program cleanly. Before moving on to more difficult methods of spyware removal start with the easiest and check the Add/Remove Programs list in the Windows Control Panel. If the program you suspect to be spyware is listed, simply highlight it and click the Remove button. (If you’re a Windows Vista user, the Add/Remove Programs feature is listed in Control Panel as Programs and Features.) After removing the adware or spyware via Add/Remove Programs, reboot your computer. Make sure you reboot after uninstalling, even if you aren’t asked to do so.
3. Scan Your Computer
After disconnecting from the Internet, removing any adware or spyware listed in Add/Remove Programs, and rebooting your computer, the next step is to run a full system scan using an up-to-date antivirus scanner of your choice. Make sure your anti-virus program is anti-spyware too. (Did you know? Not all antivirus programs are anti-spyware!) If your antivirus will allow it, run the scan in Safe Mode. Allow the scanner to clean, quarantine, or delete malware and infected files when appropriate.
4. Undo the Lingering Damage
After removing the active adware or spyware, you’ll need to make sure it won’t simply reintegrate itself when the computer is reconnecting to the Internet.
- Before reconnecting, reset your browser’s start and home pages.
- Make sure your HOSTS file hasn’t been hijacked.
- Check to make sure untrusted websites haven’t been added to your Trusted Sites Zone.
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