Do You Need to Reformat Your Computer to Remove Spyware?


by Barbara J. Feldman on July 11, 2009

Spyware can be a royal pain in the butt and you may have a spyware problem without even knowing it. Most spyware infestations hide on your computer causing system instability, memory problems, sluggish performance and very slow internet performance. It has been estimated that roughly ninety percent of computer systems are infected with spyware or viruses, in some form or another. Knowing how to remove spyware and understanding whether or not you need to reformat your computer to remove it are very important things you need to know.

What will spyware do to your computer?

Spyware is software that secretly invades computer systems usually for the benefit of an unknown third party. The software will record information about your computer and then transmit it to a third party who is generally searching for personal, financial or other pertinent information stored on your hard drive. Spyware has been known to attach itself to downloads, adware and browser hackers which can change your settings and passwords to find the information they are looking for.

How can you recognize spyware?

Here are some of the many signs that spyware has invaded your computer:

When you connect to the internet your web browser opens to an unknown home page or directs you to an unfamiliar web site. Resetting your preferences does not fix the problem.

Your keyboard, monitor or CD/DVD drive begins acting funny or spontaneously shutting off.

Pop ups are coming into your windows browser when you’re not even connected to the internet or, if you are surfing the web, they’re coming up so often that it is making it impossible to actually do anything else besides keep closing the pop up windows.

Your PC seems to be operating by itself as if you have no control over some of its operations.

Your computer keeps crashing when you search the internet or a run a security program.

How do you get rid of spyware?

There are two ways you can go about removing spyware from your computer. You can try scanning for and removing spyware yourself or you can hire a professional to do it, which you may have to do if your system crashes while you’re trying to download software or run a scan to fix the problem as these are typically indications that the problem is nearly catastrophic. Some people believe that in order to rid your computer of spyware completely you have to reformat the hard drive. While this is an option, it should be the method of absolute last resort, when the only other option available is buying a new computer.

Here are some ideas for removing spyware:

Free Spyware removal software: If you only have a few small issues and your computer seems to be running fairly well, try removing the spyware using one of the many free software programs. Spybot: Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware are two of the most popular software programs available for scanning for and destroying spyware. Either program may be downloaded free of charge from their respective website.

Purchasing Software: Everyone loves free stuff, but some people believe that if you’re not paying for it, especially when it comes to computers or software, it can’t be any good. The truth in that thought is debatable but, if you’re one of the people who want to ‘buy the best’, LavaSoft has a program you can buy called Ad-Aware Pro that does an outstanding job at spyware and virus detection and removal. It also prevents future infestations. This is just one of many fine programs you can buy to remove spyware.

Reformatting your hard drive: While this might be a very obvious way to get rid of spyware programs, it is the option of last resort. If this is the route you choose, make sure you save any data you want but leave the programs. As they may be infected as well, you will probably have to reinstall everything you lose. This should be the last resort before just buying a new computer.

So, do you need to reformat your computer to remove spyware? While there are some very dangerous, fast acting spyware programs in cyber world that might warrant it, reformatting your system should still be your weapon of absolute last resort. If you’re not terribly familiar with computers and their inner workings, it is highly recommended that you forget about any ‘someone might see my personal information’ anxieties and take your computer to a pro because if you have spyware on your computer, many people you know nothing about have already seen the information you think you’re protecting, making the privacy issue a non-issue.


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