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Lavasfot Ad-Aware – Free Spyware Removal

Written By: Steve Perlow


Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE Personal is a free for personal use spyware removal tool is widely regarded as a top anti-spyware application. It has been downloaded hundreds of millions of times, which is a testament to its strong reputation.

This article will not tell you everything there is to know about spyware, or even everything about this software. What it will do, is guide you through running the program to clean your pc of as much spyware as possible, quickly and easily.

Briefly, what is spyware?

According to Answers.com:

Software that sends information about your Web surfing habits to its Web site. Often quickly installed in your computer in combination with a free download you purposely selected from the Web, spyware transmits information in the background as you move around the Web. Also known as “parasite software,” “scumware,” “junkware” and “thiefware, spyware is occasionally installed just by visiting a Web site.

Spyware can also change you homepage, cause pop-up ads, slow down your computer, and more, all without your knowledge or real consent. If youve been affected by spyware through pop-ups and strange homepages in your web browser, you know exactly how real the problem is. Even if you havent, ridding your computer of spyware should speed up it up, along with your overall internet experience. Removing spyware will also help restore privacy to your web browsing.

Lets get started with Ad-Aware

When youre ready to begin cleaning your computer, close all your open applications and go to www.lavasoft.com and click on the link for www.download.com. Download the file to somewhere on your computer you can find, stay online if your connection is not always on, and then open the file to start the installation. Read the licensing agreement, and when you are ready to agree, accept the standard installation options unless you have some special need to change them. The final screen of the install looks like:

I unchecked the Open the help file now box because I didnt want to see it. If you do, just leave it checked, and the help box will open in the background while the rest of the program begins and runs.

The other two buttons should be left checked. The program will actually update the definitions first, and then scan your system with the new updated definitions. One note, be sure your computer calendar is on the correct day or else the definitions will try to update twice for no reason.

Here is the web update. You can see the definitions file is from September 13, 2004. The web update will download the newest definitions, most likely from the last few days.

When the update is complete the scan of your computer will commence with this screen:

The scan will take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour or even longer, depending on the size of you hard disks, the speed of your computer, and the amount of spyware found. I checked my e-mail while this scan was running, but your best bet is probably to just let your computer be while the scan runs. The scan will be faster this way as well

As the scan is running you can see the number of errors found, and when the scan is complete, you can see the results one by one and decide how to deal with them. On this machine there were 57 potential spyware objects. Dont be worried if you have more, thats why youre running this program, to get the problem under control.

Double click on any of the objects and youll get details about the spyware. You can click on the Show TAC page and see an extended description of the problem from the Lavasoft website.

That object looks like one we should get rid of, and most of the files found should be gotten rid of. Be careful though, because on this computer, there was one potential spyware object that made me stop and think.

Well this doesnt look very good. Possible Browser Hijack attemptis generally spyware that should be cleaned out. But look at the location line, and you can see that this is a pyramid solitaire game. I checked the link by opening internet explorer and finding it as one of my Favorites, and sure enough, this is a legitimate solitaire game and not spyware.

Why did Ad-Aware think it was spyware? Most likely the solitaire game is programmed poorly and contains some abnormal redirections. In any case we need to tell Ad-Aware to leave this file alone.

To do this, close the details window, and check the small box to the left of the questionable object. Then right click the object and select Add Selected to Ignore List. The object will be removed from the list, and will not be found in future scans. If you need to, you can always take items off your ignore list in the future.

All of the other spyware on this machine should be deleted. To do this, select all the objects by right clicking on one, and choosing to Select All Objects.

When the objects are selected, simply click Next in the lower right, the spyware will be removed, and you will return to the programs main screen.

Thats all there is to cleaning your PC of most spyware. If you had a serious and noticeable spyware problem, you may be able to see the difference immediately. Even if you didnt have a major problem, your computer should run better now overall, especially on the internet, and will certainly be more private.

Ad-Aware is widely regarded as a great program that catches a very high percentage of possible spyware. It may not catch everything, and while other programs probably wont catch more, there is a chance they could find something Ad-Aware missed. My recommendation is, for a general cleaning of spyware, Ad-Aware is all you need. If you have a major problem that Ad-Aware did not catch, try another FREE tool, like Spybot Search and Destroy http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html , to see if that program can fix it.

In my opinion spyware cleaning tools you purchase are no better than Ad-Aware, and in many cases are worse. That said, if you like Ad-Aware, you might consider buying the paid version from the Lavasoft website, as you get a few more features. Generally though, regularly checking your computer with free versions from Ad-Aware or Spybot will be enough to eliminate most spyware.

After exhausting all your free options, if you still have a major spyware problem (for example a homepage that is clearly an advertisers page but will not change), ask for help in the aworldofhelp.com forums. Describe your problem clearly, because almost certainly someone else has had the same or a similar problem and can help.

Spyware can be a terrible nuisance, or it can be a crippling problem. Thankfully, Ad-Aware is an excellent and free tool for cleaning your personal computer.

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