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What to Do When Spyware Cripples Your Computer

Aug 17, 2007
If you've never fallen victim to it, then you're lucky...

But the surprising fact is that around 90% of computers are infected with spyware, making this the most common problem for most technical support staffs, including major software companies. Spyware can have several different effects on your computer, from just plain annoying (like popups, slow performance, or system crashes) to downright dangerous (like stealing your passwords or sensitive personal or business information). So when spyware becomes present on your computer, you should act immediately to remove it and get your computer back in top condition. Here are three things you can do.

First, try to identify which programs might be spyware. You can usually tell the offending programs by checking the Windows Task Manager to see which programs are taking up the most system resources. Just press CTRL - ALT - DEL on your keyboard and then select the tab labeled "Processes". You can sort the columns by clicking on the column heading, so do that for the column labeled "CPU". By looking through this column, which is now sorted, you can tell if any of the programs currently running are taking up more than 90% of system resources. If so, jot down the name and do a quick search on Google to see it that's normal. Some processes might be part of Windows so you'll have to check. But more than likely, if you see several programs using a large amount of system resources and you're not running any resource intensive programs like graphics or video editors, then you might have spyware on your system. But we're not sure quite yet, so that's where step two comes in.

Second, if a quick search on Google leads you to believe the suspect program is spyware, or if you didn't find anything suspicious using step 1, it would be a good idea to run a spyware scanner on your system. There are several good programs that offer free scans so you can try before you purchase. However, it would be a good idea to go ahead and add a spyware remover to your set of software tools to protect your computer, just like your anti-virus program (you DO have an anti-virus program, right?).

Finally, it would be a good idea to try to figure out how you might have gotten spyware on your computer in the first place. There are several ways this could happen, including downloading free programs or visiting certain websites. It's best that you're aware of these different ways spyware can infect your system so you can easily avoid the problem altogether. Once the spyware programs are removed from your computer, a little education and the right tools will go a long way to keeping your computer spyware-free.
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