Watching the Watchers: Detection and Removal of Spyware

If spyware were a person and he set himself up in your house, you are likely going to do one of two things. You'll kick him out yourself or you'll call someone (such as the police) to do it for you.

Employing tools that detect and remove spyware from your PC, whether it's at home or at the office, should be on the list of top things to do for your complete protection, and the protection of your children.

Spyware is a generic term for insidious programs designed to track, store and report back on your actions on the computer, whether you're logged onto the Internet or not. The most benign forms began as adware, software that tried to make sure the end user didn't receive any ads they wouldn't be interested in. The theory is great, but the practice has been warped by abuse.

There are a number of tools available for the detecting and removing of Spyware. Ad-Aware is a very reputable piece of software that detects, isolates and removes spyware from your PC. Available for free download, Ad-Aware was one of the first anti-spyware programs to be available.

Ad-Aware's drawback, however, is that it must be run to detect already installed spyware and it does not prevent spyware from being downloaded as you surf the Internet.

Ad-Aware offers a paid version labeled Ad-Watch that includes a real time prevention tool. Spysweeper, Spybot, A-Squared, Microsoft Anti-Spyware and many, many others all offer varying levels of protection from spyware. Ultimately, preventing the installation of such programs in the first place will serve you better.

Yes, it may cost a small investment or donation for licensing the product. However, remember that spyware can tie up your CPU, RAM and Internet connection to the point that you can no longer perform day-to-day functions on your machine or connection with any type of speed or normalcy.

Free programs work well for detecting and removing spyware, but it's advisable to check out the website offering the anti-spyware for free. Some programs are just more spyware in disguise. Choose reputable software rather than just any ad that pops up in your email box.

Making sure you have anti-virus software, working firewall and up to date patches for all of your software will improve the performance across the board.

Even if you install and utilize very reputable anti-spyware software, the best advice to preventing spyware installation on your machine is avoiding the downloading of unknown products or attachments from your e-mail.

Don't download programs from people you do not know, nor should you enter every contest and game that may be offered through pop-up banners or e-mail. It's not enough to be able to detect and/or remove spyware. You have to prevent it. And, this starts with some simple action that any computer novice can perform.

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