I have been specializing in Spyware Removal for a few years, and I can certainly say that both paid and free spyware removal tools have improved dramatically. I have removed spyware from countless computers, using only free tools! Now, I will share this information with you, so that you can save money too.
I am going to share the process that I use to remove spyware, and it works about 90% of the time. If this process does not work, backup your important information, do a zeros wipe on the complete hard drive, reformat your hard drive, and reinstall Windows.
What free spyware removal tools will I need?
I strongly suggest downloading these applications from a computer that has Internet access and loading them onto a flash drive, because spyware often cuts off Internet access or is smart enough to prevent access to the web pages you would need to visit in order to download these tools.
- Combofix, Roguefix and Smitfraudfix
- Malwarebytes Free (The paid version has an active scanner that makes sure you do not get infected again).
- AVG Free (The paid version, AVG Internet Security, has an active spyware scanner, too).
- Fix IE Utility
Let’s Get Into the Spyware Removal Process
The spyware removal process is not a fixed set of steps. Spyware is very smart, but all spyware has weaknesses and I have laid the path of least resistance.
Personally I would try to download and run Malwarebytes first. If it works you are very fortunate, because most spyware programs will recognize Malwarebytes and prevent it from running. You can try renaming the programs and see if it works, otherwise stick to the steps and you should succeed. If you run into a snag, leave a comment, and I will help you
Always work in “Safe Mode with Networking” when removing viruses, spyware, rootkits, and trojans. Safe mode will prevent a lot of these programs from starting up. Working in this mode is also faster, because you have more of your computer resources to work with.
You can enter Safe Mode by tapping the F8 every two seconds after you turn you computer on. A menu with Safe Mode options will appear instead of the traditional Windows Logo/Loading Screen.
- Log into your computer in “Safe Mode” and run CCleaner. This utility removes a lot of unnecessary files, which allows the other utilities you will be using to scan your computer faster, because the Temporary Internet Files, and etc. will be erased.
- After running CCleaner, log into the infected computer in “Safe Mode” then run the Smitfraudfix utility. This utility is designed to remove “fake” anti-spyware applications that utilize Trojans to issue fake taskbar security alerts, or that change your background in order to scare you into purchasing the full commercial version of their software.
- After running the Smitfraudfix, log into the infected computer in “Safe Mode” and run the Roguefix and LSPfix utilities.
- After running the Smitfraudfix and Roguefix utilities, reboot the computer back into “Safe Mode” and run the Combofix utility. This utility will scan your computer for known malware, and try to clean the infections automatically.It is very comprehensive and can detect and remove most major spyware programs. This program takes about 30 minutes to run and reboots the computer several times during the process. Go ahead and find something else to do at this point because you will not be able to use your computer for other tasks while Combofix is running.
- After the Combofix utility is finished, run Malwarebytes. This works similar to Combofix, but is able to detect and remove many more different spyware programs. It also has a straightforward tabbed interface. Malwarebytes often require a reboot after completion, so make sure you tell it to reboot after it is done removing spyware. Hopefully, you have a computer free of spyware at this point. You might still see parts of Windows broken or out of place, so we will use some healing utilities to bring your computer back to normal.
- Run the Fix IE utility and the XPQuickFix utilities, which will fix a lot of background problems that spyware creates once they infect your computer.
- I know you probably paid money for your Virus Protection, but your computer has been compromised so ditch it. Search Google using the keywords “Norton Removal Tool”, “McAfee Removal Tool, etc,” depending on the Anti-virus solution you have installed on your computer. Why remove these? Anti-Virus programs aren’t any good once they have been compromised. But these two probably weren’t good to begin with. Also you should experience a significant speed boost after switching to a more efficient and stable anti-virus program.
- If you are broke, install AVG Free, if you have a few bucks get their comprehensive solution. I would also recommend supplementing your anti-virus program with a real-time spyware scanner, such as Malwarebytes, the paid version.
Keep your computer clean!
- Again I recommend buying AVG Internet Security and Malwarebytes to completely protect against spyware, but if you go with the free Malwarebytes you will be fine. I would recommend opening Malwarebytes once a week and doing a scan to ensure the computer is clean.
- Avoid pornographic sites, and freebie sites (you know free music, software, games, etc).
- If you stumble upon a suspected shady web site that forces you to answer a YES or NO popup, or an OK CANCEL popup that you did not initiate, hold the Alt Key and press F4. This will terminate your browser without answering the question. If you click on an answer, 99% of the time you will give the site permission to download rogue software onto your computer regardless of the answer you choose.
- Change browsers at once! Internet Explorer has many problems, and ActiveX is a huge window for computers to become infected with spyware. Switch to Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, or Google Chrome.