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Removing Spyware / Adware

(a.k.a. Malware)

Spyware and adware, often referred to as malware, has become a big problem for many home and business users. Unfortunately, the fact that your computer is infected with malware isn't always apparent until it has made your PC almost inoperable. Symptoms include slow downs, freeze ups and many pop-ups.

Malware takes the form of programs, browser helper objects, system services, host file entries, trusted sites entries and more. Many variants also regenerate themselves when removal is attempted, making removal even more difficult.

There's no cure all solution for removing malware and sometimes following the procedures below will still leave your computer infected. Your only option at that point is to hire a professional to complete the removal process or reload Windows. Depending on the situation, it is often times more economical to simply save your data, format the hard drive and reinstall Windows as heavily infected computers can take hours for a professional to clean.

Removal Procedure

1.   The first thing you will need is a few utilities to aid in the removal process. You will need to be able to access the Internet to download these utilities, or download them from another computer and save them to a flash drive or burn them to a CD to use on the infected computer. These utilities are all "freeware" and work as well as most retail products. Download all of the following utilities.



2.   Make sure that you are logged on with administrative privileges. Install all of the utilities that you just downloaded. Make sure to open each utility and download all of the latest updates. Do not run any system scans at this time.


3.   Run the CleanUp utility using the default configuration. This will remove all cookies, temporary Internet files, histories, temp files and recent file history. If using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 and have multiple users setup. you may need to logon as each user and perform this action depending on the "privacy" settings of each user.


4.   Restart the computer into "Safe Mode" by pressing the "F8" key during the beginning stages of booting up and select "Safe Mode" from the menu.


5.   Open each utility one at a time and run a complete system scan. You will have to change the default settings to perform the complete scan. Select and delete all objects detected. You will have to repeat this process for each user logon if more than one user is configured on your Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 machine. If any of the utilities ask if you want them to run at the next boot up, select "NO".


6.   Restart the computer as normal and see how it works. Make sure to re-enable System Restore.


These steps will remove most items, but there are many "strains" of malware that will require much more work to remove. If your computer still appears to be possessed, you can call a professional, reinstall Windows or go to after re-running each utility and performing a search for the titles of the detected malware. This should lead you to sites with more detailed instructions for removing that particular version of malware.


Good Luck!


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