How to Get Adware & Spyware off My Computer

by James Chen

Malware, or malicious software, is any program with the intent of infiltrating a user's computer without the user's permission. They can range from run-of-the-mill viruses to Trojans to a whole plethora of nuisances. All forms of spyware are considered malware, as their explicit intent is to gather data without the user's permission, but adware, too, are often considered malware. While advertising is not in itself malicious, adware is often used as a delivery vehicle for harmful programs. Eliminating both adware and spyware is a necessary step in computer security.

Removal Software

The easiest means to remove adware and spyware from your computer is to utilize a program that automatically searches, isolates and removes such programs. This not only saves you the time and effort needed to hunt down individual programs manually, but is probably the only viable means of doing so, given the sheer number of adware and spyware programs that exist. Spybot S&D; and Lavasoft Ad-Aware are both commonly used and free-to-install ad/spyware removal softwares, and are listed in the Resources section of this article.

Run the downloaded program. Depending on a number of factors, including overall system performance, nature of the program and number of targeted files, this may take a long time.

Follow the program's prompts to delete or quarantine any adware or spyware the program detects. This will automatically remove it from your system.

Regularly update and run your ad/spyware program. New malware finds its way online everyday, and running the scan once won't be enough to prevent future infections. Regular updates and scans can mitigate the problems that malware causes.


  • close Not all adware programs are malevolent. Some may be necessary for certain programs or functions to run. Review the list of adware detected before you delete them, just in case.
  • close Ad and spyware removal programs are reactive. They will only detect something after it's already made its way into your system. To preemptively secure your privacy, use a firewall, install a flash-blocking plugin and don't open suspicious attachments without first running it through an anti-virus program.

Items you will need

About the Author

James Chen has been De Anza College's La Voz Weekly's first and current technology editor since 2008. He was a "Wave Magazine" editorial intern for six months. Chen is currently seeking his journalism degree from De Anza College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera computer virus image by Marina Bartel from