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How to Uninstall Spyware

Filed under: PC Maintenance, Uninstall 

Spyware is a form of commercial software that gets installed on your computer without your consent. This occurs when you access certain websites and the purpose of this software is to collect sensitive data, such as passwords and account numbers. Not only is spyware a serious security threat, it can lead to system crashes and other problems. It is vital, therefore, that you remove spyware from your PC.

Here’s Why You MUST Uninstall Spyware

get rid of spywareThe best course of action is to avoid spyware altogether. Your internet service provider (ISP) may provide software that detects and blocks spyware. Certain internet protection software combines anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware functions. However, some spyware may still slip through the net.

Your PC may show symptoms that indicate the likely presence of spyware. For example, it may display website advertisements, show a different home page or list new web pages in your Favorites folder. You may find that your web browser has new toolbars or stops responding, that various links or components no longer work or that your PC starts much slower than previously. If any of these symptoms are experienced, you may need to remove spyware from your computer. There are various ways to do this.

Spyware will not normally have the same installation procedures as most software. Additionally, due to its nature, spyware is often designed to be difficult to identify and remove. Because of this, you may need to try different things to get rid of it.

You should also be aware that spyware is often installed with a program you have downloaded and, if you uninstall spyware, this will mean you can no longer run that program.

Ways to Remove Spyware

The spyware may have its own inbuilt uninstallation routine. Open the program list at the Start menu and look for a program group similar to the one you want to remove. Open the group and, if there is an uninstall routine, run it and follow the prompts.

As an alternative, select Add or Remove Programs or Programs and Features (depending on your operating system) at the Control Panel. A list of currently installed programs appears. Look for a program that has an unfamiliar name or one that is similar to the name of the program that is causing problems. If you are absolutely sure this is a non-required program, select it and choose to uninstall. Take care, however, not to remove something just because it is unfamiliar — it may be an important process.

If you cannot find the spyware with either of these methods, right-click My Computer at the Start menu and choose Explore. Look for a folder with a name similar to that of the program you want to remove, open it and see if an uninstall program is available (there may be a file called uninst.exe or similar). If so, run it and follow the prompts.

The problem with the preceding methods is that you may not know the name of the spyware program you want to remove. In this case, you can use a tool to uninstall spyware automatically. Your anti-virus software may be able to remove spyware and so running a scan may solve the problem. Windows Defender, which comes with Windows Vista and is available as a free download for XP, can also uninstall spyware.
If you are considering a third party solution, we use Avira on most of our systems, but another comparison of AV products for 2017 can be found here.

Finally, there are several dedicated tools to remove spyware and you may be able to download one for a free trial. However, choose carefully because some are not as good as they claim to be.

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