Almost anything that is free on the internet carries a payload.
Usually it is in the form of Spyware. Spyware, which I mentioned
in my last article on Music Sharing, is software that is installed
on your computer that sends statistics on you to marketing companies.
Spyware can be used to target you with spam, pop-up ads, and
other annoyances while you use your computer. When you install
free software, you generally agree to allow Spyware to be installed
on your computer. Spyware is installed when you install games,
screen savers, and most free utilities advertised on the internet.
The software uses system resources and slows down your PC. It
also sends information that you might not want to share with
the public to your homepage always changes to some weird search
engine? Or ever wonder why you get pop-up ads even if you aren’t
connected to the internet? This is all thanks to Spyware.
Removing Spyware is fairly easy and the utilities to remove
it are...guess? FREE! The two best utilities are Adaware
by Lavasoft and Spybot Search and Destroy. Both were
written by companies that felt spyware was unethical and annoying.
I admire the folks at these companies and thank them from the
bottom of my heart since their software is so great. Both accept
donations if you want to give them and I suggest you do.
To find the downloads for both of these programs, go to your
favorite search engine and type in “download Adaware”
or “download Spybot Search and Destroy”. You will
be returned with plenty of hits that will let you download these
great utilities. Once downloaded and installed, be sure to update
both pieces of software for the latest and greatest protection.
They have buttons to “click to update” and it is
important you do this.
Then, simply run the software and follow the prompts. You are
safe to remove pretty much everything they find, but don’t
be surprised of some other programs stop working — like
PrecisionTime, or Gator, or Weather Bug — all programs
that are free and are spyware. Also, some of those screen savers
might stop working too. But your computer will be faster and
happier, and so will you!
Lou Costa is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Microsoft
Certified Systems Administrator. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.