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Removing Adware From Your PC

Friday, November 30th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Security Help, System Tune-Up Help
 
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We have all dealt with adware before, but that doesn’t mean we have to! Adware can clog up your computer and even cause irreparable damage if it’s not properly taken care of. Of course, with adware, prevention is better than a cure, but first, it’s important to remove whatever adware is already present on your system. Below are a few simple guidelines that should help you solve that problem. But, before you get into it, it’s important to create a backup of your system, just in case something goes wrong. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! Here’s how you can do it: In XP, go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. In Vista or Windows 7, just type System Restore into your Start search and click on the System Restore link. Follow the instructions there and presto, your system will be restored! You can find additional information on the System Restore function here.

Now, go ahead and try out the following tips to remove all of the adware from your system:

Often times, there are programs that add themselves to your computer without your knowledge. When that happens, the next time you restart your PC, your system dutifully runs them and you will have pop ups coming up all over your screen. To precisely tackle this problem, the first step is to take care of your Windows Registry Editor. Note: As always, please make sure that you back up your registry before continuing.

To prune down the items in your registry, use the Run line, by holding the Windows key and pressing the R key (Win+R). In the Run line, type regedit. You are now looking at your registry editor. Navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run.

If there are no items in the Run folder, great! If there are, move the columns so that you can see the full fields of Name and Data. If you recognize a program name you’ve always wanted to stop from running when your computer starts, just remove it from the list by right clicking it and choosing Delete. For the files you don’t recognize, go to Google.com and type the filename into the search box. If nothing comes up, you can safely delete it. That’s a sure sign it is spyware that changed its filename. If you do get some results for it, open one that has some kind of process information or definition. Read what it has to say about the file. Most likely, it is a good file, but if it says it’s a threat, you can go ahead and delete it.

After going through each file, repeat the same procedure for the following folders in your Registry Editor:

- HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunOnce

- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run

- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunOnce

- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/RunOnceEx

Check your Startup folder. To do so, go to Start, All Programs, Startup. Shortcuts and files placed in that folder will start up when Windows loads. Although programs don’t use this folder much anymore, if you forget to check on it, you might miss something! When you get there, simply delete the files you don’t recognize. In the Startup folder, the shortcuts should all be for programs you’ve installed. If you accidentally delete a file, the only thing that will happen is it will not load when Windows starts up. You will still be able to go to the Start menu and open the program anyway, so don’t panic if that happens.

Now, it’s time to prevent any future threats from affecting your system! To begin, you should always keep the copy of your Windows operating system updated. If you’re running XP, go to www.windowsupdate.com periodically and check for updates. If you’re using Vista or Windows 7, just type Windows Update in the Start search and click on the Windows Update link.

Also, if you are on a Web site and it asks you to download something or open something, don’t do it! That’s especially true if it asks you a number of times with a message that reads something like this, “You need this to view this page.” There are exceptions though, of course. If, for example, you are on a site installing something, such as the latest version of Windows Media Player. It specifically tells you that a prompt will come up and it has instructions not to open it. Most people are quick to just hit OK, because they want to get to what they’re looking for. Doing that could derail your system irreparably though, so be careful!

Just keep your eyes open and you’ll be able to dodge any adware that comes your way!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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