If your computer is infected with spyware you’ll be relieved to know that you can do your own spyware detection and removal using the free spyware removal software Malwarebytes. This guide will show you how to remove spyware from your computer and prevent your PC from getting reinfected. Companies such as the Geek Squad charge up to $300 to remove spyware, but you won’t be paying a dime!
Spyware Infection Symptoms
Listed below are some common symptoms associated with a spyware infection:
- Sluggish computer performance, especially when browsing the Internet.
- Multiple toolbars or sidebars installed on your web browser. Keep an eye out for a sidebar called Shopper Reports or any other toolbar or sidebar that claims to be a shopping assistant or some other type of “deal finder.”
- You may experience random pop ups on your desktop even if your web browser isn’t open. Some of these pop ups may inform you that your registry is corrupt and needs repair, or that there are Windows security alerts on your system, etc… These are all fraudulent programs (referred to as scareware) that will attempt to trick you into buying something in order to fix a problem with your PC that doesn’t even exist. Antivirus 360, WinAntiVirus, System Tool 2011, and Reg Defender 2011 are all examples of scareware programs.
- You can’t access the task manger by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del. Instead, you receive the message “Task Manager has been disabled by your administrator.”
- Your web browser gets redirected to a suspicious website after you do a Google a search for “spyware removal software.” This is called browser hijacking and believe it or not, the spyware infection that you have is actually attempting to stop you from being able to download legitimate free spyware removal software so that you won’t be able to remove the infection!
If your computer is experiencing any of these symptoms then you most likely have a spyware infection. Keep reading our spyware removal guide and we’ll show you how you can do your own spyware detection and removal absolutely free of charge!
Update: March 7th, 2011
I’ve confirmed that this spyware removal guide will work to remove the following common (yet no less nasty) spyware infections; Antivirus 360, WinAntiVirus, System Tool 2011, Reg Defender 2011, WinPC Defender (defender.exe), XP Internet Security 2011, Win 7 Anti-Virus 2011, and Internet Security Essentials. In theory, you should be able to use the following procedure to remove just about any spyware infection, especially the Rogue Antispyware applications. I’ll continue to add to the list of “confirmed kills” as I discover additional spyware infections that I’ve successfully removed using the steps outlined in this procedure.
Step 1. Download Malwarebytes Spyware Removal Software
Malwarebytes is the best free spyware removal software out there and we’ll be showing you how to use it as part of this guide. Although Malwarebytes can be downloaded for free, the problem is that certain types of spyware infections can actually prevent you from downloading spyware removal software. I therefore recommend that you download Malwarebytes from a computer that is known to not be infected with spyware and either burn it to a CD or copy it to a USB thumb drive. Click here to download Malwarebytes.
Step 3. Start Safe Mode With Networking
Using safe mode for spyware removal is your best bet because there’s a good chance that the spyware infection won’t even be able to run due to the fact that safe mode launches Windows with only the minimum amount of drivers and files required to run the operating system. To access Safe Mode with Networking you need to turn on your computer and press the F8 key once per second. This is a timing thing; if you press F8 too frequently then you could get an error message stating that your keyboard is locked. Too slow, and you’ll boot back into Windows without seeing the Advanced Boot Options screen. Upon seeing the Advanced Boot Options screen you need to scroll down with the arrow keys, select Safe Mode with Networking, and press Enter.
Step 4. Install And Run Malwarebytes
Thanks to Malwarebytes, the easiest part of this spyware removal guide is the actual spyware removal itself!
- Install and update Malwarebytes by clicking on the setup file and then accept the default installation values.
- Launch Malwarebytes and click on the scan button to begin the spyware removal scan. Scanning time will vary based upon the speed of your computer and the size of your hard drive.
- Click show results after the spyware removal scan has completed.
- Click on remove selected and allow Malwarebytes to automatically remove spyware from your computer. Reboot your computer when prompted.
- Once your computer has rebooted you should run Malwarebytes a second time just to be on the safe side.
- I would also recommend that you download and run CCleaner in order to remove your browser cookies and temporary internet files which could still contain data that could reinfect your system. Our computer tune-up guide shows you how to use CCleaner to clean up your computer.
- Congratulations, you’ve now successfully removed spyware from your computer system!
Step 5. Let’s Prevent Your Computer From Getting Infected With Spyware Again
Many spyware infections occur because a user is running outdated software that contains security vulnerabilities. The links below will help you install updated versions of Mozilla Firefox and other Internet helper applications such as Flash and Java.
- Download and install Mozilla Firefox – Free
- Download and install the most current version of Adobe Flash Player – Free
- Download and install the most current version of Java – Free
- Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials if you don’t already have an antivirus product installed – Free
Check out this article if you’re wondering how your computer might have gotten infected with spyware in the first place.