I had an interesting problem with adware hitting a windows 7 machine. Windows 7 is a good distribution of Operating System from Windows now succeeded by Windows 8 and 10. Before i recommend heading to the store to get the good old Norton 360 subscription, we would want to ascertain if the adware can be removed manually for free.
There are different levels of checking and cleaning depending on your level of expertise. Ill start from Novice to Expert level.
Update your Windows! Windows 7 use windows update.
The first step always. Update your browsers to the current version. Browsers have come a long way. They do an awesome job in preventing adwares, and malware that use a website or internet based applications to propagate. I cant tell you what the current versions of browsers are, but i can tell you which makes sense to have and which have minimal maintenance.
1. Google Chrome – The least amount of maintenance and the most secure to date. They do patches immediately and they use Pepper Flash Player, which is in-built and maintained by Google. This just means you can run your flash without the internal worry of a compromise. If you want updates, and the things, Google do; you can always hop in my blog and follow the blogs list.
2. Mozilla Firefox – A nippy browser with an awesome toolset and great security. Similar to Chrome in terms of web browser security and protection against malicious perpetrators. The only fallback is the reliance of its flash content to Adobe. You will have to install the latest Flash player versions to keep up with the security of running Youtube Videos.
The others, not worth mentioning as the two browsers above give you essentially what you need when you are surfing on the internet.
Next, if your adware still persist, you might want to check your “add/remove programs”. This is a critical step. Remember when you download freeware on the internet, they are not “free”. You will probably be blind when you click “Next” till the end. Sometimes, you might install plug-ins or softwares which might contribute to your adware problem.
1. As you traverse through the installation, read well and clear, what you are ticking and installing.
2. Plug-ins and add-ons unless they are “signed off” by vendors or an authority, they can inflict damage to your system.
3. Never trust “free” anti-virus solutions, ranging from registry cleaners, to any of those adverts that pop up on Skype(this disappointed me) to any of those “cleaners”. Good security security solutions come with a cost.
4. Free antivirus solutions like AVG, went through a notion of selling your web browsing information to third party buyers.
5. Remove all that and do a spring clean.
Check again if that fixes the problem. If it does not, let me know.
Now to the expert section…..
Remember the moment, when a system hangs for some reason, and you know its a software or document that is “hanging”. You press the magical “ctrl-alt-del” and a screen pops up and you press “Task Manager”. When you click that, magic happens. Lets check this one out.
1. When you see a list of processes, you will notice the “memory allocation” for each process. It is clear to see which takes up most memory. From my experience, most browsers take up a certain portion and this can be accounted for. The rest like windows processes can be accounted for.
2. What you want to look out for are the ones that either look “interesting” or it hits your memory allocation to the roof and its not a software you are currently running.
3. Of course there is no way to tell you every single windows process that goes on, so this is where you open your browser and google each one you think is suspicious.
4. By the process of elimination, if there is a suspicious file running and google confirms it, you can stop the process and try to isolate the process file.
5. This can be done by checking through a search, or if you are really good, through the annals of System32 files.
6. If you are confident enough the file is weird and does not match the specifics, you can delete it.
The next option is the registry. Now thats some serious work. For another day.
For the novices, if all else does not work, either get Norton 360 or a product that can cover the range of end device security. Money is never wasted in securing your system, as your private information is a whole lot more valuable than a paid software. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish folks.