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Spyware Removal

How to remove spyware from your Windows computer for free.
January 21, 2007

This article will also help those people who want to remove all of those popups when trying to browse the internet. Also, in order to keep the complexity of this tutorial to a minimum it is assumed that you can at least connect to the internet and download/update. If you can't do anything then you'll probably need the assistance of someone with a more technical background and experience in removing spyware.

Preparation

  1. Download and install Spybot - Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware. Once you've installed these programs make sure to install the latest definition updates.
  2. Open Add or Remove Programs (Start->Control Panel->Add or Remove Programs). Now is a good time to uninstall any sketchy programs and do some house cleaning by removing programs that are no longer needed.
  3. Turn off System Restore. (Start->Control Panel->System) Click on the System Restore tab and make sure the checkbox is ticked to turn off system restore.
  4. Boot into Safe Mode.

Safe Mode

  1. Once you're in safe mode run a full system scan, first with Ad-Aware and then with Spybot. In both cases once the scan has finished remove/clean any bad entries. Continue to run scans until no threats or bad entries show up.
  2. While you're in safe mode it would be a good idea to Check and Fix your hosts file on Windows XP if needed.
  3. Run Ad-Aware and make sure you have the latest updates installed. click Start and select Perform a Full System Scan. When the scan is complete, select and remove all objects.
  4. Run Spyboy S&D and make sure you have the latest updates installed. click Check for Problems. When the scan is complete, select and remove all entries.
  5. After you have completed both scans, Reboot and start the computer in Safe Mode again.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 until both programs report no threats (or at least non-critical threats).
  7. Reboot the computer and start Windows normally (don't go into safe mode).

Protection and Prevention

After you've performed the scans and removed any threats, in most cases your computer should be in better shape and cleaned up. It is now a good time to install some real-time protection against spyware and I suggest you use Windows Defender since it does a pretty good job and it is free from Microsoft.

Turn on System Restore

When all the spyware has been cleaned off make sure to turn System Restore back on by following the step 3 of the Preparation section above.

Still Have a Problem?

Sometimes there are some really stubborn pieces of software out there that just can't be removed by following the instructions provided in this tutorial. Unfortunately, unless you are a more advanced user it may be difficult to find and remove the offending software and in that case you may want to bring in a professional to clean things out.

If you know the name of the offending software on your computer and the previously mentioned programs cannot remove it then one thing you can try is searching on google (or your favorite search engine). Search for the name of the spyware program that you can't clean and the word 'removal'. Usually if you're having troubles deleting the spyware so has someone else and there may be some help on the web in the form of removal instructions.

Virus Scan

Along with the spyware removal I also suggest performing a thorough virus scan, as this may also be the root of the problem you're experiencing.