How To Clean Spyware/Adware Off Your Computer

There are many tools throughout Computer Cleanup that you can use to "cleanup" your computer. Below are some basic steps you can take to remove adware/spyware off your computer and cleanup some of the "junk" files as well. Please read this entire guide carefully. Please also check the tips & techniques section afterwards.

  • Download Spybot S&D here.

Run it, and clean out what it finds. Be sure the latest updates are installed before you run a scan.

  • Download AVG Antivirus here.

Run a full system scan and delete/quarantine what it finds. Again, make sure the latest updates are installed prior to running the scan.

    • Download & install CCleaner here.
        • Once installed, run CCleaner & select the Windows tab
        • Select ONLY the options illustrated below (not all are available for Win98/ME/2K; Nothing in Applications tab should be checked):


    • Click Options > click Advanced > Uncheck "Only delete files older than 48 hrs" > click [OK]
    • Return to Cleaner main then click Run Cleaner (bottom right)
    • A pop up box will appear advising this process will permanently delete files from your system.
    • Click "OK" and it will scan and clean your system.
    • Click "exit" when done.
    • CCleaner should be run with the above settings in each User Profile! Don't forget to do this.

Credit For CCleaner Steps: Aumha Forums

It is highly recommended that you get firewall running on your computer, if you don't have one yet. You can find a list of most free firewalls here, which will work fine.

Once you have done the above, please continue to the next set of steps:

Virus Removal/Protection


Panda Online Virus Scanner is a good one you can run here. However, it depends on your browser whether you can use it or not. Visit the online scanner page for a large list of most free online scanners. Run the scanner, and delete all of the stuff it finds. Each night, or once a week, run a virus scan (AVG suggested above) and remove whatever the scan finds. Make sure you keep all the software you are using up to date.

The basic steps described above will cleanup your computer for most cases. However, there are millions of different possible cases. Often, a virus will get into the restore of the computer, and you can scan the computer, remove the virus, but then upon reboot, the virus will be back. To fix this, you need to turn off system restore temporarily, scan and remove, and then turn the restore back on. Do NOT start fixing your problem by disabling System Restore. This will wipe out all restore points and if you should have a problem that needs system restore, you would have no good working configuration to go back to get the computer up and running. Please visit these sites for how to enable/disable System Restore:
How to Turn On and Turn Off System Restore in Windows XP
How to Enable and Disable System Restore in Windows ME

It is also a good idea to scan the computer in safemode (Press F8 upon reboot). You might ask why. The Windows operating system protects files when they are being accessed by an application or a program. Malware writers create programs that can insert itself and hide in these protected areas when the files are being used. Using Safe Mode reduces the number of modules requesting files to only the essentials to make your computer functional. This in turn reduces the number of hiding places for malware, making it easier to find and delete the offending files. Using anti-malware tools, Scandisk, Chkdsk, Defrag, & Disk Cleanup in Safe Mode also speeds up the scanning process.

After you have completed the above tasks, see if your computer is still acting up, or running slow. If the computer issue is not resolved, please download HiJackThis (HJT) here.

To install HijackThis properly it must be extracted from the zip file download and into its own folder where it can safely save backups and can be run by other user accounts if necessary. Do not run HijackThis from the Desktop, a temp folder, or a sub-folder of C:\Documents and Settings, or choose to run it directly from the downloaded zip file.

  • Click the My Computer icon on the desktop, or go to Start>My Computer. Then click on the Local Disk C.
  • Navigate to the C:\Program Files folder and select it.
  • Now click the on the top menu where it says File and then select New.
  • Then select Folder
  • A new folder is created and highlighted
  • Just type HJT to overwrite the default name (New Folder)

Once you have HijackThis open, click on the Misc. Tools tab on the top. On the left of the Generate Statuplist Button, select both of the boxes (if they aren't checked yet), and then click on Generate Statuplist log. A log box will appear. Visit the "Online Support" page, register at one of the forums and post that log for some help. An expert will review the log and will resolve your problem, free of charge.

Also, viruses/spyware may edit the registry. Before you ever edit your registry in attempt to remove the spyware/virus, always create a backup Please check here for steps on how to backup your registry.

Lastly, I want to emphasize, keep your software up to date to get all the latest updates recommended for your operating system and browser. Remember to check for Windows Critical Security Updates often. The first defense against infection is a properly patched system and browser. I encourage you to set your PC for automatic updates so that you won't miss any.

The steps listed above are some real basic steps you can take to remove viruses and spyware/malware/adware off your computer. If you have already used the above tools and they didn't resolve your issues, it is recommended that you visit the other pages throughout Computer Cleanup and find the program that is right for you. Don't give up in resolving your problem. With dedication, you can resolve the problem and keep the problems from re-occuring.

This page was last updated September 13, 2008

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