Staying SPYWARE FREE is one of the most important things you can do to keep your pc running smooth and safe. Spyware will crash your pc, ruin your internet connection and make your internet surfing unsafe so PLEASE follow this thread exactly.
There are two excellent spyware removal apps available and they are both FREE so there is no reason to not use them regularly. The two best apps there are for removing spyware are SpyBot Search & Destroy and Ad Aware. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU USE BOTH OF THESE APPS SINCE ONE FINDS WHAT THE OTHER MISSES AND VICE VERSA, YOU ARE NOT SAFE USING JUST ONE OF THEM. There is one other app that I HIGHLY recommend is for spyware prevention, SpywareBlaster. This app sets certain registry entries that prevent spyware from ever installing, it DOES NOT run in the background using any resources, you just set it and forget it.
Once you have installed these three MUST HAVE apps you then need to update them and keep them up to date. I would recommend checking for updates weekly, it’s just like your antivirus app, you need to stay protected from the latest spyware out there. To update SpyBot just open the app from your start menu (use the advanced mode option) and select “search for updates” it will then show you what updates are available for download, always install all the updates. Another feature that SpyBot has is called “Immunize”, you will see an icon for it. Select the icon and under “Permanent Internet Explorer Immunity” select “Immunize” this works in the same way as SpywareBlaster in blocking new spyware. It also gives you the option of locking your hosts file against hijackers, I highly recommend using this option as well. To update Ad Aware just open it and select “Check for updates now”. For SpywareBlaster it is mostly the same, open it up and select “Check for updates” once you update this you then must select “select all” and then “Protect against checked items” so that the updates you just did take effect.
Anything these apps find is spyware and should be removed, if you choose not to remove what is found then you have no one to blame if your pc crashes due to spyware or your privacy is invaded (including these companies stealing your credit card number and identity). I recommend doing weekly scans and as I have already said, ALWAYS remove anything they find to keep yourself safe.
One other preventative utility you might want to look at is SpywareGuard (from the same author as SpywareBlaster) - also free ("donationware"):