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If you’re seeing irritating ads pop-up in your browser, your homepage has been changed to some strange search engine, or your computer is suddenly slow, you’ve been targeted by adware.
Adware is software that uses shady methods to show unwanted advertisements. Aside from being annoying, adware isn’t evil per se. It’s meant to earn money for companies that offer their services and applications for free. But the way they operate is dangerous and can leave you vulnerable to harmful activity such as malvertising—malware embedded in ads—or spyware, which are programs that track your activities and collect your personal information.
Most antivirus solutions have measures to block ads, but some types of adware are too hard to detect and remove because they function as legitimate software. Below are some of the tools that are effective against the more complicated kinds of adware.
The best free adware removal tools
1) Bitdefender Adware Removal Tool
Bitdefender Adware Removal is a free tool that is available for both PC and Mac. It scans various parts of your computer to find hidden adware programs. Adware Removal reviews toolbars, extensions, and apps installed in your Chrome and Firefox browsers, and it actively monitors your system for the presence of keyloggers, malicious software that sends your keystrokes to remote servers. Bitdefender Adware Removal comes bundled with the Bitdefender antivirus.
2) Adaware Free Antivirus+
Adware Free Antivirus+ is an adware removal and antimalware solution. Antivirus+ scans your system for pre-installed adware and toolbars. Adaware helps remove the clutter caused by ads when browsing web pages. It also provides decent protection against the smarter kind of adware that conceals itself as legitimate software.
- The best free antivirus tools for Windows and Mac
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3) Norton Power Eraser
Norton is a household name in protection software, and its adware removal tool lives up to its reputation. Power Eraser scans your system and eradicates malicious adware and crimeware that are deeply embedded and difficult to detect by other security tools. This includes programs that other tools might mark as legitimate. It also provides an easy-to-use undo feature to restore programs that might have been removed by mistake.
4) Malwarebytes AdwCleaner
AdwCleaner is an efficient tool that removes adware, annoying toolbars, and other sneaky programs that clutter your system and slow down its performance. AdwCleaner actively scans sites you visit and files you download for the potential presence adware and other harmful software that threaten your privacy and system. It also checks the Windows registry files for malicious software.
Ben Dickson is a software engineer and founder of TechTalks. His work has been published by TechCrunch, VentureBeat, the Next Web, PC Magazine, Huffington Post, and Motherboard, among others.