Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


How do I get rid of spyware and adware?

While working on my computer at work online advertisement files will save to my desktop. I have my pop up blocker on and it seems to be working but I keep having items on my desktop for advertisements how do I stop this?

Oh man, I can't think of anything that would drive me bonkers faster than the situation you're describing, honestly. If there's one thing that drives me crazy about working within the Windows environment, it's how there are thousands of sites lurking, poised, ready to infect my computer, and once infected, tons of different spyware programs to ruin my computing experience.

First off, though, let's define spyware. Spyware is any software that's actually running on your computer without you explicitly granting it permission, installing it or wanting it there. Most typically, spyware tracks what you're doing and reports salient data to a remote server, for example capturing keystrokes and trying to report email addresses or credit card numbers. Very bad stuff!

Some spyware does the opposite, though, just acting as a conduit for third parties to drop information on your computer, and I think that's what you're seeing with these online advertisements showing up on your desktop. This category of spyware is called adware, by the way, but it's still the same insidious type of program running without permission on your computer.

To deal with the scourge of spyware, you need to...