Adware is any software that, once installed on your computer, tracks your internet browsing habits and sends you pop-ups containing advertisements related to the sites and topics you've visited. While this type of software may sound innocent, it consumes and slows down your computer's valuable processor and internet connection speed.
How do you know if your computer has adware?
There are a number of symptoms you can identify if your computer has adware. Listed below are some to look for:
- You receive pop-up ads on a regular basis
- Your browser homepage continually changes
- Your computer is sluggish or slower than it was a few months ago
- An unfamiliar search bar or toolbar appears in your web browser
- You uninstall the unfamiliar search bar or toolbar, and it continues to appear
How do I avoid adware?
- Install pop-up blockers.
- Before clicking a download link, make sure you recognize the publisher's name in the dialog box before clicking "yes" or "accept."
- Be cautious with the websites you view and frequent, especially if they contain suspicious content (i.e., content that is explicit, illegal, etc.)
- Don't download files from unknown sources, either from your email or the web.
- Don't download attachments (e.g., pictures, games, electronic greetings) unless they're from someone you know.
- Whenever you receive a pop-up, close the window by clicking the red "X" in the corner. By clicking "OK" or "Agree" to close the pop-up you could be accepting spyware to download to your computer.
- Be careful when downloading free programs, especially music files and media sharing programs. Read the licensing agreements to understand exactly what you're downloading. Many popular applications include spyware components, and some applications won't work without those components.
- Run anti-adware software on a regular basis to catch any programs that may have infected your computer. After the software removes the adware it finds, restart your computer and scan it again to make sure all adware was deleted. Some adware programs can be stubborn and difficult to remove, so it might take more than one try.
- Protect your computer with a firewall, especially if you use a broadband connection.
- Don't download any programs from websites you don't trust.
- ActiveX controls are prone to spyware and other malware, so don't approve the installation of any ActiveX controls you haven't already requested.
What do you do if your computer has adware?
If you think adware has been downloaded to your computer, we recommend that you use an anti-adware software to run a scan. If you don't have one, check out AOL's Lifestore for anti-spyware software.