What is adware and how do I remove it?
Learn what adware is, how adware got onto your computer, and how to remove adware, malware, and other threats from your computer.
What is Adware?
Adware, also known as advertisement-supported software or ad-supported software is any form of software that generates advertisements in order to generate revenue for the software’s advertisers, authors, publishers, and/or distributors.
Adware can consist of any form of software that displays advertisements. Even software that displays advertisements in the user interface or on a screen presented to the user during installation and setup processes is considered adware. This may also include programs used to download software, known as Download Managers that display advertisements or promote third-party software by making recommended and custom installations available for users who download their software.
Advertisements generated by adware come in many forms. There are generic pop-up ads that may appear anywhere on a screen while a user is browsing the internet (or in some cases offline), there are pop-under adverts that primarily appear under an open browser window and are initiated when a user clicks somewhere on a webpage, there are in-text advertisements like Text Enhance that pop-up when a user hovers over linked text, there are coupon adverts, drop-down adverts, and many others, even image-ads that appear when a user hovers over an image or advertisements that appear over videos (including YouTube videos).
Adware that collects and/or observes a computer user’s activity (such as their browsing habits and browser history) without their direct consent and reports it to the software’s author and/or third-parties is categorized as spyware.
Some adware is simply an irritant and may only be considered a potentially unwanted program (PUP), while other adware may be described as malware because it has malicious or unclear intensions. Some adware programs that are considered malware may not include an option to uninstall the software or may promote malicious sponsored advertisements and sponsored links.
Over the years many programs have been developed to detect and remove all forms of adware as advertisement platforms progress, as well as block against becoming infected with any unwanted programs and malicious programs.
While most Antivirus software will not go after a lot of potentially unwanted software or irritable adware, Anti-Malware programs such as Malwarebytes Premium have been specifically developed to protect against unwanted programs, as well as detect and remove most forms of adware.
How did adware get onto my computer?
Adware can get onto a computer using various methods and different types of software. Most irritable adware often bundles with freeware and shareware that is distributed by websites such as download.com and others that contain questionable advertismenets. During the installation process of freeware and similar programs a user may be given the opportunity to accept or decline an offer to install adware and other programs ; However, the offer may be presented in a confusing manner, which may allow the program to “accidentally” install without user knowledge.
Many authors and distributors of free software often include these offers in order to compensate for their free software or use scripts to allow their software to generate advertisements.
Adware can also be downloaded and installed by third-party programs without user consent or knowledge.
How to remove adware
STEP 1: Remove adware with Malwarebytes and HitmanPro
1. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software to scan your computer and remove malicious files and potentially unwanted programs.
2. To install the program, click the file you just downloaded. It can usually be located in the Download folder.
3. A window that says “Welcome to the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard” will appear. Click Agree and Install to begin the installation. Once complete, click Finish.
4. Now the Malwarebytes is installed, open the program and click the Scan Now button – or go to the Scan tab and click the Start Scan button.
5. When the scan is complete click the Quarantine Selected button.
6. If Malwarebytes says “All selected items have been removed successfully. A log file has been saved to the logs folder. Your computer needs to be restarted to complete the removal process. Would you like to restart now?” click the Yes button to restart your computer.
7. Next, Download HitmanPro to perform a second-opinion scan and remove any remaining malicious trace files.
8. Once installed, open HitmanPro and click Next to start scanning your computer. *If you are using the free version you may chose to create a copy or perform a one-time scan.
9. When the HitmanPro scan is complete click the Next button.
10. To activate the free version of HitmanPro: enter your email address twice and click the Activate button.
11. Click the Reboot button.
Your computer should now be completely free of adware Extension and other malicious files; However, you can still use the manual repair and uninstall instructions below if your browser settings have not been repaired or if you think an unwanted program is still installed on your machine.
STEP 2: Remove unwanted extensions
1. Open the Customize and control Google Chrome menu and go to More tools > Extensions.
2. Look for any suspicious extensions in the list and click the Remove button to remove them.
1. Open the Menu and click Add-ons.
2. Search for the unwanted add-on and click Remove.
1. Go to Safari > Preferences > Extensions.
2. Search for the unwanted extension in the list and click the Uninstall button.
1. Go to Tools (Alt+X) and click Manage add-ons.
2. Select the Internet Explorer add-on you want to remove with your mouse and click Remove.
STEP 3: Uninstall unwanted programs
1. Open Windows Start or Task menu and go to the Control Panel (or go directly to Programs and Features).
2. In the “Programs” section click Uninstall a program (or Add and remove programs).
3. Search for unwanted programs in the list of installed programs and double click the program you want to remove to uninstall it. You can also select the unwanted with your mouse and click the Uninstall button once it appears. Once you have uninstalled the first program, look for other unwanted programs in the list of installed programs and uninstall any if they are found. A general tip is to click “Installed On” to locate any programs that installed around the same time.
STEP 4: Cleanup with CCleaner
Follow the instructions to clean your computer and repair your computer’s settings.
2. Once installed, open the program and go to the main Cleaner screen and click the Analyze button. Afterwards, click the Run Cleaner button on the bottom right of the program interface.
3. Next, navigate to Tools > Startup and search through each tab starting from windows, internet explorer, etc., all the way to Content Menu, for additional suspicious entries. If you find any thing suspicious click it and click the Delete button to remove it.
4. Finally, go to the Registry window and click the Scan for Issues button. When the scan is complete click the Fix selected issues… button and click Fix All Selected Issues.
After you have performed each step adware should be completely removed from your computer. If you are still having issues call us at 1-866-521-2427 and we’ll help you remove the infection.
How to stay protected against future infections
Security software like Malwarebytes and Norton Security have real-time potection features that can block malicious files before they get onto your computer. The two programs bundled together can establish a wall between your computer and cyber criminals in real-time; disallowing threats and hackers from getting onto your machine.
The guidelines listed below are a great way to help you maintain a safe environment and ensure that the files on your computer are intact.
- Backup your computer and personal files to an external drive or online backup service
- Create a restore point on your computer in case you need to restore your computer to a date before infection
- Avoid downloading and installing apps, browser extensions, and programs you are not familiar with
- Avoid downloading and installing apps, browser extensions, and programs from websites you are not familiar with – some websites use their own download manager to bundle additional programs with the initial download
- Avoid visiting fake “spyware removal” blogs and websites that promote “spyware removal software.” These are usually malicious websites designed to phish your personal information, infect your computer with a rogue program and trick you into paying for rogue “spyware removal software.”
- If you plan to download and install freeware, open source software, or shareware make sure to be alert when you install the object and read all the instructions presented by the download manager
- Avoid torrents and P2P clients
- Do not open email messages from senders you do not know