Removing Spyware

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
April 30, 2004
Views
51845
Removing Spyware
The past two articles showed you how to keep your computer safe and what program is better at removing spyware. This time around, I'll be showing you how to remove any spyware that already infected your machine.
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<B>Intro</B>:

Most new computer users will totally mess up a new computer within the first week. Case in point, someone came in and paid for service to their computer even though it was only 2 weeks old and still under warranty. The reason; she loaded her computer up with spyware and her data was important. Normally we'd just restore a computer with no problem. This was a special case. In the end, I got her computer to run just like new, without loosing her data. Just follow this guide if you want to get rid of the spyware on your computer.

<B>Step 1 - Load up a computer with spyware</B>:

<center>Spyware'd Up</center>

Now this is an easy step. Like in my past <a href="/articles.php?id=125">article</a>, just two hours on the internet and I was loaded with spyware. Most of you won't need to do this step if you are a beginner on a computer. If you are a beginner, skip this step as you already have spyware on your computer.

<B>Step 2 - Safe Mode is a charm</B>:

<center>Safe Mode Clean Interface</center>

You should always boot into safe mode when doing anything that requires scanning or access to more files than usual. Safe mode also puts a stop to all the garbage that starts up in normal mode. To get into safe mode you'll need to hit F8 as soon as the computer starts booting into Windows (before you see the Windows splash screen). Once you see the menu that pops up, click 'Safe Mode with Networking'. Believe me, networking comes in handy if you need other stuff that you don't have on the computer already. Once you do get to the welcome screen, click your user account (in this case it is mine, 'Aron'). You'll want to go into the Administrator account and redo all the stuff in this guide after just to be safe.

<B>Step 3 - Download and install the tools</B>:

This step is the reason that you want to have networking available. You'll want to download a few tools that you'll be using to clean out your computer. Here are the tools to download:

Adaware: http://www.lavasoftusa.com
Spybot: http://www.safer-networking.org
StartupCPL: http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml
Hijackthis: http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/downloads.html

Once you have these tools, install Adaware and Spybot. After they are installed, run Adaware first and make sure you run the live update feature to get the latest definitions! This is one of the most important steps.

<B>Step 4 - Run the programs</B>:

As I just stated above, run Adaware first. Make sure you get the latest definitions. After you have the latest update, run the normal smart scan. It'll go through the registry and some of the hard drive and clean out the most important areas for spyware. You can do more than a smart scan in Adaware, a total scan of the hard drive. Most people don't know about this feature, but it is extremely useful in removing spyware installed all over the system.

<center>Total Scan</center>

In the scanning options, you'll want to select the drive to scan. Select all the local partitions on your computer (usually C: will do it). After you checked that, rerun the scan. You'll notice Adaware will pick up even more stuff than before.

<center>Adaware Finished</center>

After it is done scanning, remove all the garbage. If Adaware needs to be rerun on startup, allow it to do that. Don't restart the computer just yet, you'll want to run Spybot first.

<center>Spybot Immunize</center>

Now, run Spybot and update it. After running Spybot, click the immunize button and make sure everything is blocked, and scroll down and block the bad pages. Technically, you are adding another process when Internet Explorer loads, you'll notice it when you run one of the other programs that you downloaded. Some people may think this is intrusive, but whatever, it keeps you safer than normal.
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<B>Step 5 - Reboot</B>:

After you've done both programs, restart the computer. Don't go into safe mode, you'll want to see what is going on in normal mode after you've destroyed the spyware. After it reboots, time for step 6!

<B>Step 6 - Uninstall all the garbage programs</B>:

<center>Uninstall Everything</center>

Hit Start, go into Control Panel. You'll want to head into the Add Remove Programs screen. Once you see all the stupid programs that are installed, take pleasure when you systematically remove them one by one, rebooting when needed. After that is done, you should be left with a much cleaner and leaner system. We aren't done just yet.

<B>Step 7 - Final clean up</B>:

<center>Hijackthis</center>

Remember the other two programs you downloaded? You'll want to run Hijackthis. Hijackthis is really for more advanced users, you can damage stuff if you don't know what you're doing, so make sure you know what you are removing. If you see stuff like Alexa, or dogpile, Lycos, or anything related to spyware, it is most likely safe to remove it. If you are unsure if something is safe to remove, post a log on our forum and we can help you out. Hijackthis will also list some startup programs, but don't worry about those, there is a better program to clean up the startup.

<center>StartupCPL</center>

StartupCPL is a great program that I use daily on people's machines to clean up the startup trash that spyware and other junk programs leave in the hidden startup groups. It searches the registry and lists the programs that startup, you can disable or delete things. I suggest disabling programs first, then deleting when you know it didn't break a program you need. Make sure you check out all the tabs as well. Once you've done then, reboot the system one last time.

<B>Step 8 - Final reboot and checking</B>:

The final step is to reboot the computer. Make sure you inspect the computer to see if you've cleaned up everything sufficiently. If you're as good as I am you'll be left with a system that is as good as new.

<center>Cleaned Startup</center>

Check that out! Less than 60MB of memory usage on startup. That may even be better than a clean Windows install (probably not). Let's see what the browser looks like.

<center>Clean Browser</center>

Clean as a full format and a restore. No popups, no toolbars, nothing. This is how your computer should look like.

<B>Conclusion</B>:

After outlining the steps to clean out a computer full of spyware, I hope you try out this guide for yourself and see the results. If you need help cleaning your computer, please post in our forums. We're always here to help you out. Remember that even though spyware is a curse, you can fight back and stop it. The root of the problem is the companies that create this crap. Once laws are made that stop this, we'll all be better off.

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