I think we’ve all been there at some point: We’re installing some new software program, maybe not paying as much attention as we should be, clicking “Next” or “I agree” as fast as we can just to get through the software installation process. The next time we open up our web browser, however, we’re greeted with an obnoxious toolbar.
Browser toolbars aren’t simply benign annoyances either. Beyond simply taking up space on your screen and potentially slowing down your browser’s responsiveness, they track your actions online and sell that information that whomever will buy it. That’s their business model, for the most part. You’re not the customer of adware and other malware, you’re the product being sold. Or at least your information is.
It’s normally possible to go into your browser and manually remove unwanted browser toolbars, rogue addons and search engine redirectors. But it’s a tedious, time consuming process, and you need to know where to look to make the changes. This is especially true if you have more than one browser. Removing half a dozen toolbars and rogue toolbars can easily become an hour long ordeal if you’re having to try to clean up multiple browsers.
I fix a lot of computers. A LOT of computers. All that time spent manually removing toolbars adds up quick. So lately I’ve been using a tool called “AdwCleaner” to automate the process. AdwCleaner stands for “Adware Cleaner”, but it’s not your typical malware removal tool. You don’t download new detection updates for it like you would for SpyZooka or MalwareByte’s. It’s very specialized for removing a specific set of very persistent malware and Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) like browser toolbars. It’s a very powerful tool, and very good at what it’s intended for, but it’s not something you’d want to run every day. You’re not given a lot of options on what AdwCleaner removes. If it finds a program or toolbar that is in its detection list, it will remove the offender without consulting you first. Also, after removing any malware, it forces you to restart your computer, which allows it to ensure that the malware processes aren’t started again.
If toolbars are making your browsing cluttered and slow, you may want to give AdwCleaner a try. It’s very simple to use, just run the program and click the “Delete” button to remove any detectable malware on your system.
AdwCleaner can be downloaded at http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/