Recommendations for trustworthy Adware cleaners
March 5, 2004 7:53 AM   Subscribe

As embarrassing as it is to confess, I am not very sophisticated with computers and technology. Recently my computer has become the eager droid of "purityscan," which (to my never ending frustration and dismay) opens a few hundred pop-ups per hour. I Googled for the best spy/pop up removal software, but I am unable to tell the good guys from the bad guys. I downloaded and ran "adaware" but now that they have identified "368 spyware components" on my computer they want $30.00 to remove them. I have no problem paying to end this problem, but I do not want to pay for dreck or pay evil extortionists who create the problem and then sell the solution. So: Which software is best, from an honest company, to fix this loathsome problem?
posted by limitedpie to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
Google Toolbar. Works like a charm.
posted by kelrae3 at 7:59 AM on March 5, 2004

Ad-Aware is one of the good guys. Pay them whatever they ask (however, isn't there a free version?).
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:03 AM on March 5, 2004

also Spybot S&D (Search and Destroy) I run it and Ad-Aware as they each seem to catch things the other doesn't. And there are free versions of both.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 8:05 AM on March 5, 2004

Ooops, I mean works like a charm for pop-ups, not spyware.
posted by kelrae3 at 8:05 AM on March 5, 2004

I used adaware to clean purityscan off my girlfriends work pc, but it didn't cost me any money. Are you sure you downloaded the basic, free version?
posted by GeekAnimator at 8:06 AM on March 5, 2004

Strikes me that if it wants payment to remove ads and spys it may not be the real adaware. $30 is not the price of any of the un-free versions. stupidsexyFlanders' link is the right one.

I run both AdAware and Spybot a couple times a week. Each sometimes finds things the other missed.
posted by jfuller at 8:11 AM on March 5, 2004

Response by poster: Wow. Thanks, thanks, thanks. It looks like "Ad-Aware" (as per stupidsexyFlanders and GeekAnimator) just saved me from helping the bad guys! The Ada-ware (sic) that I downloaded was from here. Thanks again, I'll get the lavasoft version now. Thanks again all!
posted by limitedpie at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2004

Also, download Firefox and use it. It'll get rid of the pop-ups and annoying security holes.
posted by bshort at 8:18 AM on March 5, 2004

Ad-Aware is free for personal use. Make sure to click the link that says "check for updates" so you can be sure to have the latest signature files.
posted by adampsyche at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2004

While I endorse the Google Toolbar or FireFox to manage website-related popups, it's been my experience that they do not help with spyware-related popups.

The spyware popups are driven by an application or process unrelated to the browser, which bypasses the popup protection provided by the Toolbar or FireFox.

As has been said, Ad-Aware will cover the spyware nicely.
posted by o2b at 8:48 AM on March 5, 2004

On my clients' computers, I usually install 3-4 things. AdAware Free, Spybot S&D, AVG Antivirus and sometimes Mozilla Firefox/Firebird. All are free.

Firefox helps probably more than anything, because you can block the pop-ups and aren't culpable to those IE-only bugs. The combo of AdAware and Spybot is great. And AVG, because it's faster than Norton and doesn't bog your system it's updated almost every day.
posted by mkelley at 9:32 AM on March 5, 2004

There's always OS X. No spyware here, I turned off popups in Safari and I've never seen one again. I also can't catch the viruses and worms. Plus all the OS X gravy.

I mean this seriously. I support Windows professionally and in my opinion it is a disaster. OS X is a clean, secure and humane OS that is worth considering.
posted by n9 at 9:58 AM on March 5, 2004

Uh oh, n9, you answered a question that wasn't asked...

But hey, I like off-beat responses to my AskMe questions as well, so... Seriously, limitedpie, as another way to solve the problem of having all this crap taking over your computer on a regular basis, why not switch to a computer where it happens seldom-if-ever-at-all? If you're as basic a computer user as you say, I'm prepared to bet cash money there's nothing your Windows PC that won't run on a Macintosh and, as n9 points out, Macs are very much easier to use and maintain. Batteries last forever in our laptops, the UI is significantly easier to learn and use, and Mac users' penises are, on average, twice the size of the penises of Windows users! Imagine! Oh, well, just an idea...

(Oh, and, pay no attention to that reality distortion field forming around you... Steve is good... Steve is good...)
posted by JollyWanker at 2:38 PM on March 5, 2004

> On my clients' computers, I usually install 3-4 things.
> AdAware Free, Spybot S&D, AVG Antivirus and sometimes
> Mozilla Firefox/Firebird. All are free.

Second all of those. I'm also very fond of Zonealarm free firewall.
posted by jfuller at 2:41 PM on March 5, 2004

Response by poster: JollyWanker: We were actually a Mac household-- proud and happy Mac household I should add. But we kept running into things we couldn't do, not supported on the Mac. The final straw (as odd as this might sound) was that we could not buy US Treasury Bonds online (The US govt site that sells the bonds is (or was) only for windows users.) Since we are sort of fanatical savers, and try to buy bonds every month this drove us up the wall. When it was time for new computers, this inability to do one of our regular and important computing tasks drove us to the dark side-- and here we remain mired in virus / spyware / adware hell. As for the being mired part: I have downloaded and run Ad-Aware (the real one) and Spybot S&D and Firefox. Ran Ad-Aware and Spybot... got the all clear from those programs but I am still getting dozens and dozens of pop-ups. Any other ideas short of reformatting the computer and starting from scratch (uggg!)? And, btw Firefox is really cool. I like that tabbed browsing, sweet!
posted by limitedpie at 6:56 PM on March 5, 2004

If you're using a Windows XP machine, have run SpyBot and are still getting the pop-ups, it might be that your Windows Messenger service is still switched on. See here. o2b provided the clue in an earlier comment.
posted by punilux at 3:14 AM on March 6, 2004

turn off active-x.


you might have to re-enable, or "trust" sites that have flash that you want to see, but otherwise, you won't miss it.

this should keep you from getting most of the nasties.

if anything requires you to have activex enabled in order to download shit, it is not worth it.

(this is from someone who's been browser hijacked about five or six times in the last week [mostly, yes, due to looking for cracks on cracksites that at one point used to be clean -- but still, cracksites, so i suppose i deserve it])

if you do get browser hijacked, don't give up -- do some good searches on google and you can usually find a fix -- some of them involve getting into your registry and deleting keys -- if you're not comfortable with this, i've found that CWShredder does a good job of fixing some of the stuff for you that Ad-Aware and Spy-tools can't grab..

of course, this only applies to windows oses.
posted by fishfucker at 4:20 AM on March 6, 2004

Also see: Parasite detection script
posted by sageleaf at 6:56 AM on March 6, 2004

punilux, bless your heart, I was able to clear up all the spyware issues on my family's computer except for those Windows Messenger pop-ups. At last the foe is defeated! Thanks very much for that link.
posted by brookedel at 8:43 PM on March 13, 2004

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