Add THIS to Your Anti-Malware Arsenal
No anti-malware program eradicates every bit of every infection. If problems persist after a full scan with your standard malware killer, you can try a specialized program that digs deeply into the dark corners of your system where advanced malware hides. Read on to learn about this tool that you should have in your internet security toolbox...
What is AdwCleaner?
AdwCleaner is one such specialty program. It does a superior job of rooting out rootkits, toolbars, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), and browser hijackers. It finds malware traces left in the registry, temp files, and browser settings that can somtimes resurrect these pests when a machine is rebooted. Best of all, it’s free and very easy to use.
AdwCleaner is maintained by a French firm called Xplode. It’s best to download AdwCleaner directly from its support site where you’ll also find news and FAQs about AdwCleaner. But before you do, I recommend that you make a System Restore point, just in case you need to undo any of the changes AdwCleaner makes. (Click Start, then type create a restore point to begin the process.)
There is no installation process; the file you download is the executable AdwCleaner program. Just run it, click “Scan” and in a few minutes AdwCleaner displays a report of malware (or traces) that it found.
The display is divided into tabs that show items found in various places where malware likes to hide: running services, folders, files, shortcuts, scheduled tasks, the registry, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.
When the scan is complete, AdwCleaner presents a tabbed report of anything that was found, and waits for you to click the “Clean” button. If you're not techy, you might just want to whack that button and be done with it. If you later find that something needs to be restored, click the Tools button on the AdwCleaner main menu and you’ll find the “Quarantine Manager.” It shows all of the files that AdwCleaner has removed and gives you the option to restore any of them if you later find that’s necessary.
Cleaning Up After Yourself
Note that I said "files" in that last sentence. Other things that AdwCleaner removes, such as registry keys and system services can't be restored using the Quarantine Manager. That's why I recommended making a System Restore point, so you can restore everything to the point prior to running AdwCleaner. It's not likely that you'll need to do so, but better safe than sorry, right?
I recommend at least looking at the items that were found, because there might be something you want to keep. Let's look at the tabs in the AdwCleaner report:
Services Tab: Items listed here are malicious services that get loaded when you start up your computer. If something is shown here, in all likelihood it's bad. Leave these items checked to disable and then delete the service.
Folders Tab: Here you'll find a list of folders that AdwCleaner thinks are harboring malware. Uncheck any folders you want to keep, or the folder and their contents will be deleted. In my test AdwCleaner flagged a folder called "C:\Util" in which I've collected a bunch of utility programs. I know for sure that none are harmful, so I unchecked that one. It also flagged "C:\Program Files\NCH Software" which has an mp3converter program I downloaded.
Files Tab: This is supposed to be a list of malicious files. In my test, it flagged a handful of browser cookies, which I didn't care about, so I let them checked for delettion.
Shortcuts Tab: These are modified or hidden links. I'm not even sure what that means, but I didn't have any. If any are found and left checked, AdwCleaner will restore the links to their previous state before being infected.
Registry Tab: This is a list of items (keys) detected in your Windows Registry. Depending on what was found, ADwCleaner will delete the key, the value or the data, or restore the key.
Internet Explorer / Firefox / Chrome Tabs: These tabs show a list of configuration files, profiles, preferences files and extensions flagged for removal.
Clean, Rinse and Reboot
With a bit of poking around, and some Googling, you'll decide which items to uncheck, if any. Remember, (most of) the changes that AdwCleaner makes to your system are reversible with the “Quarantine Manager” mentioned above.
When “Clean” is clicked, AdwCleaner warns you that it will close all running programs and advises you to save any work before clicking “OK” to start the cleaning process. Your computer will automatically be rebooted when cleaning is finished. There is no option to “reboot later,” which is a good thing for the forgetful. AdwCleaner says that after your computer is restarted, a report of everything that was done will be displayed. That didn't happen when I ran it.
I ran AdwCleaner on my PC after running malware scans with Avast, Advanced System Care Pro, and MalwareBytes Anti-Malware. As I mentioned, AdwCleaner flagged one folder for deletion that I did want to keep. It also found several traces of PUPs that all of those excellent programs (might have) missed.
I didn't dig deep enough to determine if any of those traces were just harmless remains of previously-removed malware, or the real thing. Although I suspect the former, I was still glad to have them found and zapped. My PC is running smoothly, and that’s all I need to know.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Jan 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Add THIS to Your Anti-Malware Arsenal (Posted: 21 Jan 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved