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Spyware removal tools are programs that will scan the memory, registry, and drives on your computer for known instances of spyware. These programs will then remove harmful components leaving your computer spyware-free. An example of a good no-cost spyware removal tool is Ad-Aware.

Spyware is any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the internet such as Kazaa or Morpheus. Once installed, spyware monitors user activity on the Internet and can do things ranging from gathering information (possibly including credit card numbers and passwords) to creating popup windows to disrupting Internet access.

In some instances, spyware can make a computer unusable; other times, the user is unaware that their every keystroke is being logged and sent elsewhere. SPU recommends the use of programs such as Microsoft's Windows Defender or Lavasoft's Ad-Aware to check for and remove this malicious code. While there are many similarities between Anti-Virus software and Anti-Spyware software, there is not currently a single product to address both concerns. There are many other products for spyware protection in addition to the ones mentioned above, however, you must ensure you are getting software from a reputable source.
How To:
Most anti-spyware programs do not actively monitor the system for incoming malicious programs. While the anti-virus software may catch some of these, it is necessary for the user to initiate scans of their computer on a regular basis. It is also import to update the spyware definitions file on every use to ensure all known malicious programs are found.
Common Problems:
Anti-spyware software becomes less effective as it ages and new spyware finds ways to circumvent the software. It is essential to keep the anti-spyware software updated. This can be done within the program itself.
See Also:
Anti-Virus Protection (in addition of spyware protection, anti-virus software is also essential)
Your Personal Computer (other information about how to maintain your personal computer)

Last Updated: 3/16/2010