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Best Free Spyware Removal

Comparing the Best Free Spyware Removal Tools

Computer security is an on-going problem in today’s world. Every user connected to the Internet has to be aware of the multitude of harmful programs populating the Web, and many companies lose hundreds of man-hours a year removing these malicious programs. One particular type of computer infection is known as spyware, which indicates a program that secretly harvests user information from a machine without the user’s knowledge. Unlike other harmful programs like worms or viruses, spyware does not disseminate automatically through a network, but usually is inadvertently installed by a user installing a separate piece of software. Typically, spyware programs are specifically designed for financial gain. This usually takes the form of hijacking a browser or displaying unwanted advertisements.

Though most new versions of Windows come with some basic form of spyware security, it is often not effective enough or updated frequently enough to fully protect users. Many of the third-party options are designed specifically for large companies and typically are too expensive for most home users. Fortunately, there are several companies that provide free spyware removal tools, and there are two that have become popular favorites.

Spybot Search & Destroy was one of the first spyware removal tools available for free. It was first available around 2001 and became one of the most popular downloads in the world. Many users still regularly use Spybot and it is available in several dozen languages. However, all spyware tools need to have a regularly updated database of malicious programs, and Spybot has frequently fallen behind in this regard. Often the database has been left untended for six months, which is far too long with the rapidly expanding population of spyware programs. Additionally, Spybot does not integrate well with new versions of Windows and annoys many customers with repetitious warnings. Even worse, Spybot uses separate programs for removal and prevention, and the prevention program frequently identifies Spybot itself as malicious hardware. This is a surprisingly ridiculous complication for such a popular piece of software.

Because of the growing list of problems with Spybot, many users have opted to move on to Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, another free spyware removal tool. Significantly, many commercial support centers, including Microsoft and Norton, have publicly endorsed Malwarebytes as part of their anti-sypware support. Malwarebytes installs much faster than Spybot and can scan an infected machine in about half the time. More importantly, its definitions database is updated weekly, which ensures that your computer is always protected against the newest incarnations of spyware. However, unlike Spybot, Malwarebytes does not have a free prevention program. Users hoping to remove spyware from an infected machine will no doubt be satisfied, but users wishing to prevent infection must pay twenty-five dollars for the Pro version.

Whichever free spyware removal tool you choose, it is important to update and run the program on a regular basis. Even the best removal options, including many commerical programs, don’t do a very good job of preventing infection. In the end, the best spyware removal tool is you.

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