As I get tons of PMs, emails, phonecalls etc etc about people complaining about there PC getting slower and slower and all kind of strange programs, plugins and icons appearing on their system, I decided to put up this sticky thread.
Adware, malware... what??
I guess that about everybody here is familiar with spam. Well, consider adware and malware something like spam as well. As most modern PCs have a (always on) internet connection and pretty low security, it's easy to install unwanted software on such a PC. This software, varying from dialers to expensive adult sites to search bars for a webbrowser, isn't always wanted (as a matter of fact, I can't think of any reason why you would want programs like these).
These programs can mess up your system, collect information on you (to send email about things you seem to care about), log you in to expensive services, display commercials on your screen etc. Fact is, there isn't anything they are good for.
How this software enters your system?
1. Software with very low security precautions
2. Software with integrated malware/adware
The best examples of these two categories are Internet explorer with standard settings (case 1) and KaZaA media desktop (2).
As these programs are widely used, this problem applies to many people.
So how do we resolve these issues?
As always, the best way is to prevent this software to be installed on your system. Although this sounds quite good, in practice it's quite hard to do this. By disabling ActiveX support in Internet explorer (or not using Internet explorer, but an alternative browser), you can prevent your system from lots of junk. Not installing software with built-in adware/malware is another option.
Sadly enough, these solutions often don't yield any real succes in practical situations.
Luckily enough, there are some pretty good programs that can help us getting rid of this junk. As there more than enough free programs that perform excellent, I won't even bother to mention commercial programs.
I'll list some of these free programs here. With the programs I mention, I think you can more than 95% of all the junk from your system.
1. Lavasoft AdAware
This program scans your system for known problems and deletes all the ones you want to delete. Upgrading the database of the program can be done by downloading new definitions from the web. This is a pretty good program, as it finds mosf of the problems.
2. Spybot search & destroy
The principle behind S&D is about identical to AdAware, although this one can do a little more (such as detecting keyloggers).
3. Javacool Spyblaster
Instead of scanning the harddrive for known problems, this program integrates into your system and denies acess to your PC when certain items want to install themselves through ActiveX. Although this is only a partial cover, it is a nice addon to protect your system from quite some junk. If you're not using Internet explorer (or any program that uses the IE engine!), you don't have any use for this program.
4. Bazooka Adware and spyware scanner
This one is a very quick scanner. That sounds nice, doesn't it? Problem is that it only checks very quickly for a limited number of problems in the register and internal memory. This yields a very fast, though incomplete solution. Comes in handy when you're in a rush....
This program has a builtin database that can be used to check wether a piece of software is equipped with junk. Just enter the name of the program and the results will be shown. Quite a nifty tool!
6. Zone alarm
This free firewall can aid in blocking some communications and it can stealth your prescence on the web.
These guys are specialized in removing all this junk from your PC
Some useful information on spyware etc..
Another site with useful information on this subject
A very good and free webbrowser (especially FireFox) that doesn't have any problems with spyware and such!
Spyware, malware (and all other names used to call this junk) can be easily dealt with, if you know how to do this. Taking the right precautions and using the best sofware will help you with this. Most people don't seem to get this though and think that their PC is screwed. And eh yes... in some cases, complete reinstalls are neccesary. So if you use Windows and programs that are known for their problems, be sure to keep your system fit!
If you feel that I put wrong or incomplete information here, please let me know through PM. I realise that there loads of other free programs available to get rid of these problems, but I think that the set I present here will be more than sufficient. If you think hopwever that a certain program should be added to the list, don't fear to inform me. I'll look into it and see what I can do.. okay?
Well... happy scanning!