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Has your computer been running slowly of late or perhaps, while browsing the internet, you've noticed some weird pop-up ads you know shouldn't be there?
When's the last time your computer crashed? If your answer is "recently" or "my computer crashes more than my divorced buddy on the living room couch,” the system may be infected with adware.
Here’s how to remove Adware from your computer:
- Back up your important files.
- Download a trusted malware removal tool.
- Let the tool do a scan on your system.
- Remove programs you don’t remember installing.
- Clean up your browser.
If some of this list looks confusing, I will walk you through each step. This article will show you from beginning to end how to get rid of this nuisance and get your computer back to speed very quickly.
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1. Backup Your Important Files
A lot of people skip this step and I can understand why. They trust that what they're about to do isn't going to destroy their computer. But don't forget why you're in this mess in the first place: Trust.
Question everything, especially when it comes to computers. If you have important files you think should be moved to a safe bunker, then by all means, please move them.
Transfer them to a thumb drive or place copies in the cloud. It’s a piece of cake for a little peace of mind.
2. Download a Trusted Malware Removal Tool
Okay, so you'll have to invest a little trust after all. Having said that, there are plenty of good malware removal products to choose from. Some of them are even free.
A little research should put you in contact with one that's effective and easy to use. Malware is any kind of software that exists with malicious intent, and most adware falls under this definition.
If you're running Microsoft Windows, you already have malware removal in the form of Windows Defender. Another good choice for doing away with adware is Malwarebytes.
Once you have your adware removal tool in place, it’s time for a scan.
3. Let the Tool Do a Scan on Your System
Each malware removal product comes with slightly different instructions, but most follow the same basic pattern. They search and destroy.
Here’s how it's done with Windows Defender:
- Hold down the Windows key and press “I” to access system settings.
- Choose “Privacy & Security” and then “Windows Security”.
- Now click “Virus & threat protection”.
- Choose “Quick scan” or, under “scan options”, a full scan.
Here are instructions for the free version of Malwarebytes:
- Download the latest version of Malwarebytes for Windows or Mac, depending on your system.
- Install and open the software.
- Click “Threat Scan” or “Quick Scan.”
The software will detect and quarantine PUP files, which you can then delete if you wish. For Mac versions of Malwarebytes, there is but a single “Scan” button.
It will detect PUP files, then give you the option to quarantine them. Do a system reboot after running any adware removal software. If the problem still exists, it may be time to get a little more hands-on.
4. Remove Programs You Don’t Remember Installing
Installed programs won't necessarily have a shortcut on your desktop. But by doing a bit of detective work, you can still locate a prime suspect or two.
Below are the steps for removing unwanted software from your computer. Before following them, make certain the program you're about to delete has an install date that coincides with when your trouble began.
Or in other words, try not to condemn any innocent bystanders.
- From the start menu, search for “Control Panel.”
- Under “Programs” click “Uninstall a program.”
- A list of programs will pop up.
- If anything on the list looks suspicious, highlight it and click “Uninstall/Change.”
To the right of the list will be an “Installed On” date. If the program is both suspicious and fairly new, you could have your man.
- Launch the “Activity Monitor.”
- Scroll for applications you don’t recognize or just look strange.
- Highlight the app and click “X” on the upper toolbar.
- Click “Force Quit.”
- Now go into “Finder,” locate the quit app, and move it to the trash.
Fingers crossed, the app you targeted is the guilty party, and your troubles are over.
5. Clean Up Your Browser
Adware can affect your web browser, too. It may direct the browser to a different home page, or add bizarre extensions that slow down your surfing.
First, try clearing the browser's history and cache, which is normally done from the browser's settings page. If you use Chrome, you can reset it to its default state.
To reset Chrome:
- Open Chrome.
- Click “More” then “Settings” then “Advanced.”
- Now click “Reset settings” or “Restore settings to their original defaults.”
This will wipe the browser back to its raw state, though your favorites should remain intact. Say goodbye to that pesky adware, may the doorknob strike its behind squarely on the way out.
What is Adware?
Hmm, look at all these toolbars on my browser, I can still see the web page, but now it's as narrow as Geordi La Forge’s old visor.
Oh wait, here's a pop-up ad for Davey’s Delicious Coffee, Made With Real Cockroach Wings! Why am I seeing all this junk?
Adware is software that has sneaked onto your computer to display advertisements as you work. It can come from other downloaded software, an infected web page, or infected transferred files. You won't even know it's there until it's too late.
Adware can be targeted and pinned down with malware removal tools. These tools will likely identify the culprit as a PUP, or Potentially Unwanted Program.
Whenever a piece of adware gets installed, it makes money for some shady people behind it. So there you have it—a crash course on adware.
Adware isn’t always dangerous for your computer per se. It will slow things down, though, and can even cause systems to crash, in which case valuable data winds up as a Jeopardy! contestant.
Don't get complacent if you think your computer is infected with adware. Take the above steps to make your computer clean.
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