How to Remove Adware
Before reading this article it is recommended that first you read ‘What is Adware and Spyware?’, if you haven’t still done so! Unless you do that it will be more difficult to understand why certain removal techniques are being suggested here.
If an application installs adware, the latter should not be very difficult to remove manually. As a matter of fact if it proves very difficult to remove manually, then the software should indeed be classified as spyware, rather than as adware.
Method 1: Try not to install the adware in the first place
This is most of the times not possible, but certain applications will inform you during the installation phase that something extra (such as a toolbar) is going to be installed, and they will give you the option to untick the installation of the ‘extra’ part! Hence, it is important that every time you install a piece of software, you take some time to look at every screen, and not just click ‘Next’ after ‘Next’ as quickly as possible! If you reach a screen which tells you that something ‘extra’ will be installed, open your favourite browser and take some time to research what people are saying about that extra bit! Then once you form a knowledgeable opinion about the pros and cons of having it installed, go back to the installation screen and choose whether or not you want to install it.
Method 2: Uninstall the application that installed the adware
Most of the times, adverts are visible within the main application. Hence for example if you do not want the adverts in Windows Live Messenger, you only have one option: uninstall Live Messenger itself! Of course this will mean that the application itself will no longer be available but unfortunately for software with built-in adverts there is no way to remove the adverts and still have the desired application, unless you reverse engineer the binary code and remove the bits and pieces which display the adverts! However, if you were capable to do that, most probably you would not be reading this article in the first place!
Method 3: Remove the adware manually
There are many applications which install adware through a separate installation process. This means that an application which you really wanted to install will in turn launch a second setup file which installs the adware. When this is the case, you will usually find the adware listed under ‘Add or Remove Programs’ in the Windows XP control panel, or under ‘Programs and Features’ in the Windows Vista / 7 control panel. So, if you see the adware listed there you can try and uninstall it as you would normally uninstall any other software. However, pay attention before you do so, because some software which installs adware, will monitor if the latter is still installed and if it is not, the software which you still want to use, might stop working. To know if that will be the case you can either check with the documentation which came with the desired software or else you can go ahead and uninstall the adware and then check if the desired application is still working!
Method 4: Remove the adware with an adware removal tool
Various security tools exist (a few are free but most of them are not) which will scan your computer for installed adware and remove it for you. These tools can be either standalone adware removers or bundled with multi-purpose malware removal tools (to also remove spyware, viruses, etc…) These tools have a number of advantages such as:
(i) They are of course adware-aware in the sense that you might have adware installed and don’t even know about it
(ii) They will remove the adware without the need of going into the control panel
(iii) They will remove the adware even if it is not listed in the control panel (Note: If this is the case then the unwanted program is usually spyware, rather than adware. However, some ‘real’ adware might still not be listed in the control panel)
While keeping in mind the above three advantages, one should also note that these tools will still not remove adverts which are displayed within the applications themselves (such as in Windows Live Messenger) and they will still render applications which require the adware to be present, useless.
In the next article (How to Remove Spyware), you will be told how to deal with spyware, which in most cases is indeed a difficult task!