Getting stubborn adware and spyware off your PC can be frustrating. However, there are steps you can take to make the process easier and more effective. First, make sure you have an up-to-date anti-spyware scanner. Do not rely on your antivirus program to do the job. (See Top Spyware Scanners). Before running a scan, shutdown all open browser windows and applications (including email) and then disconnect your PC from the Internet. If accessible, the easiest thing to do is just remove the phone line or cable connecting the PC to the modem.
Scan, reboot, repeat
Scan the system with the anti-spyware scanner and allow it to remove any adware/spyware it finds. Then reboot the PC, regardless of whether you were prompted to do so by the scanner.
After the reboot, and before reconnecting to the Internet, scan again. If the scanner still reports signs of infestation, allow it to remove any traces and reboot again. After the reboot, scan a third time. If the scanner still reports signs of spyware and adware, or you still feel there are traces not being detected by the scanner, the following tips will help.
Use Safe Mode
Spyware and adware vendors often use resuscitators, files that work to keep the adware/spyware infection active no matter how hard you - or the scanners - try to remove it. Booting into Safe Mode causes allows only the most essential processes to activate. While this won’t guarantee all adware/spyware resuscitators will be killed, it does ensure the vast majority will be. (See How to Boot Into Safe Mode). Once in Safe Mode, open your anti-spyware scanner and run a complete scan, allowing it to remove any traces of infection found.
Undo the Damage
After removing the active infection, you’ll need to make sure it won’t simply reintegrate itself when the system is reconnecting to the Internet.
- After the scan is complete, reset your browser start and home pages. (See Resetting Internet Explorer Settings).
- Next, ensure your HOSTS file hasn’t been hijacked. (See Protecting the HOSTS file)
- Make sure undesirable websites haven’t been added to your Trusted Sites Zone. (See How to Check Your Trusted Sites List)
- Check the Add/Remove Programs and uninstall any applications you recognize as being associated with the adware and/or spyware.
After following the tips above, reconnect the phone line or cable to the modem, reboot the PC normally, and access the Internet. If you still feel you are infected with adware or spyware, use HijackThis to capture a log of pertinent system areas. TomCoyote.org provides a tutorial on how to use HijackThis, as well as providing a direct download link for the program. Depending on your level of experience, you can either review the log looking for signs of infection or post the log to the TomCoyote forum for assistance.
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