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Delete Spyware

Learn how to delete spyware from an infected computer.

Spyware can severely compromise the security of your computer. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Spyware can severely compromise the security of your computer.

Computer users should delete spyware immediately whenever it appears on a computer system. Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge or permission. On the Internet, programming is considered spyware if it is installed on a computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties. In the best-case scenario, spyware is used for advertising purposes. In the worst-case scenario, it is used to steal personal information such as credit card numbers. For this reason, it is a serious threat to personal online security.

How Does Spyware Infect and Hide in Computers?

Since spyware is known to slow down computer processes and cause worlds of trouble for the user, it is not something that one would knowingly install on their computer. For this reason, spyware has become particularly astute in deceiving people. In most cases, it will piggyback itself onto other harmless programs and be secretly installed when the desired program is activated. Spyware can also masquerade as security programs that are found when one is already searching for a solution to other computer complications. Instead of solving the current problem, the user downloads another.

Programs that Delete Spyware

When spyware is suspected, the user's first step is to identify the specific problem. This can be done with the aid of anti-spyware programs. A few that are highly recommended by PC World:


After running a computer scan using such a program, infections are detected and can be removed by the removal tool that is a part of the software.

Rogue Anti-Spyware Programs

Spyware manufacturers have figured out that the easiest way for their program to be loaded on to a computer is by posing as a spyware remedy. Because of this, there are frequently updated lists online to alert users of the names of fake anti-spyware programs. Spam Laws is a website/blog produced by computer law professor and lecturer David E. Sorkin that publishes lists of what Sorkin believes are disingenuous programs.

It is important for users to download well-known and trusted anti-spyware products from their most reliable source, ideally the manufacturer's website. This is to be certain that the program is truly the desired software, and not an imposter.

Manual Spyware Deletion

It is possible that at some point, a spyware program that has not yet been identified by anti-spyware software will appear on a computer system. The first thing a user should do in this case is to delete this spyware manually.

PC World Magazine recommends the following programs to identify new forms of spyware on a system:


This publication warns that manual spyware deletion is as much an art as it is a science, and that extreme caution is to be exercised when deleting spyware manually without professional expertise.

For this reason, it is important to back up all computer files before starting, which is called a disk image backup. Doing this ensures that, if things go wrong in the cleanup process, the user can still return to square one.

Once unwanted programs have been identified on the computer using the above programs, users can then delete them. But, as spyware is known to attach itself to important and useful applications, original computer programs themselves may be harmed in the removal process. Unfortunately, anti-spyware programs do not always produce optimal results. In the case that a computer user has a particularly tedious version of spyware on their system, it is probably best to seek professional help.

How to Know if Spyware Is Really Gone

According to PC Magazine, the sad truth is that it is virtually impossible to know if spyware has been completely removed from a computer. Even when scans are reporting a clean bill of health, new, undetectable spyware could be stealthily hiding itself somewhere.

Some indicators that all is well with a system include:

  • Computer speed will be back to normal
  • No more phantom clicking noises
  • No more flashy alerts that the computer has been infected


At this time, the only way to be sure spyware is truly gone is to delete and reinstall the computer's original software. Of course, most users may not be up for this onerous task, and so a consultation with a computer professional may be the last recourse.

How to Protect a Computer from Future Spyware

Even if a computer is presently spyware-free, new spyware threats are always looming. Practicing good habits while browsing the internet can lower a user's risk of being infected with spyware. Checking downloaded programs with anti-virus software before opening them and always keeping anti-virus/anti-spyware programs up to date are two helpful safeguards to avoid future problems. Additionally, Microsoft advises never to click agree or OK to close a window that pops up without warning. Instead, they counsel that the safest alternative is to click the red x in the upper right corner of the window, or press Alt and F4 on the computer keyboard.

In addition, remembering that spyware will attach itself to whatever files are available should give a user pause before downloading software from the internet. Users should carefully check software registration certificates and ascertain that the download is indeed something needed and wanted.

A user who follows these guidelines should cut down on the chances of spyware infection within their computer system. In addition, as with any piece of equipment, it is in an owner's best interest to occasionally consult with a professional in the care and maintenance of their computer.

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