Computer Maintenance 101: Removing Adware

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by Barbara J. Feldman on June 29, 2009

Legitimate adware programs are created by advertising companies; illegitimate adware programs are created by hackers and both typically show up in the form of unexplained advertising. Advertising companies hope they will be able to generate money from customers when they see and click on their pop up ads; adware has become a source of revenue for many advertising companies. Let’s discuss adware: what it is, how to recognize it, what to do if your system is infected and when to call on a professional to rid your system of it.

The term spyware and adware have come to mean the same thing because they are usually found together and both, for the most part, were created to cause problems and obtain information illegally. Adware and spyware are, in fact, different types of programs. Adware typically displays ad banners or pop up advertisements. Legitimate adware doesn’t send your information to the advertiser unless you authorize it by filling out a form or asking to receive more information. Adware also send marketing companies information about your web surfing habits to help market their products. Some advertisers will sell the information they gather to third parties; there is no harm in the legitimate adware programs.

The difference between good adware and bad adware

Adware is not inherently bad though most of it is created with malicious intent. Many adware programs are used and distributed for free because the ads pay for their development. KaZaA peer to peer file sharing is just one example of how adware doesn’t have to be harmful to your computer.

Here are some distinct differences between good and bad adware:

Good adware will only install itself on your system if you give it permission; bad adware will install itself whether you give permission or not.
Good adware will allow a user to un-install it using the add/remove button in Microsoft Windows. Bad adware is nearly impossible to remove and often hides to prevent its removal.
Good adware will display unobtrusive ads whereas bad adware will often hijack other parts of your system like a web browser setting.

Removing adware from your computer

Removing adware from your computer is very similar to removing spyware.

Here are some simple steps to removing adware:

1. Identify which software you want to delete, focusing on programs you do not recognize. As malicious adware often hides itself within other program files on your system, you need to figure out which ones you don’t want. Look for software listed that you don’t recognize and make a note of all of them.
2. Disconnect from the internet before you remove anything. Some adware and spyware programs will try and connect with their home site if you stay connected.
3. Reset your browser home page to a blank site; reboot your computer and go to the add/remove in your control panel.
4. Uninstall the software you don’t want and then reboot your computer.

This should take care of most, if not all, of the adware unless you have malicious programs hiding in your operating system. Then you will likely need professional technical help from a computer expert.

This is but a summary about adware: what to look for, the difference between the good and the bad and how to remove it. If you’re not sure, you can always do a search as many computer geek websites and forums with reliable information are out there, for free. If in doubt, consult a pro. Most will give you starter advice for free and some even trouble shoot for free.


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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Computer Maintenance 101: Removing Adware." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 29 Jun. 2009. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1437/computer-maintenance-101-removing-adware/ >.