What is spyware?
Over the past few years, a new class of software has emerged that's up to no good. It goes by many names: spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity we'll just call them all spyware. Here are some of the "features" you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more.
Why don't most antivirus utilities block spyware?
The short answer is "spyware is not a virus." Webopedia defines a virus as "A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes." Spyware takes advantage of the fact that people click I Agree to most software licenses without actually reading them. So technically, spyware is loaded with your knowledge and permission if you read the license, so it's not a virus. Of course, if your teenager uses the computer and installs spyware without your permission, that's your problem too. Here are some examples of spyware tricks.
This tricky use of software agreements puts the antivirus companies in a tough situation. It is possible that you really did agree for some of this software to be on your system. If antivirus utilities flag these borderline programs as viruses and remove them, the antivirus companies could find themselves in a legal battle with spyware makers who claim they were given permission to install.
How do I get rid of spyware?
You can either remove each program manually, or use a utility to automatically remove all spyware. For the automatic route we recommend PC Pitstop Exterminate.
To use a manual removal method, you first need to determine what types of spyware have infested your system. Our quick scan can find some of the most common spyware (but see below for an important note). Each piece of spyware requires different removal procedures. Sometimes the spyware maker has an uninstaller at their site, but usually there will be some additional steps required before you have completely eliminated it. (This can include editing the Windows registry and/or deleting files, so it is not something that we recommend for novice users!) In some cases we provide links to manual removal procedures in your spyware scan results. If not, you can ask in the Spyware section of the PC Pitstop Forums or use Google to search for removal instructions using the name of the spyware.
Please note: Although our online spyware scan will find the most common types of spyware, it's not meant to be a replacement for a commercial product to defend you against spyware and viruses. We've kept this test small and simple so that we can quickly find the most common spyware threats. If our scan detects several different types of spyware on your system, it's possible that there is even more spyware that we did not detect.