A common complaint from people is that their PC has become infected even though they have scanned it with antivirus software. Adware, PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), browser toolbars and hijackers are not always blocked by antivirus software because strictly speaking they are not viruses. They are very irritating though.
If standard antivirus and other security software is not effective against these types of malware, what is? Here are three cleanup tools that will help to remove these unwanted programs.
AdwCleaner is a scanner that is able to detect adware, PUPs, toolbars and browser hijackers. It runs on Windows XP all the way up to 8.1 and works with 32 and 64-bit versions of the operating system.
It does not need installing and is straightforward to use. Just double click the program in the Downloads folder to run it and then click the Scan button. After a few minutes, you can browse the results on the tabs – Services, Folders, Files, Shortcuts, Scheduled Tasks, Registry, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.
Click the Cleaning button and all the items found are removed. However, before you do that it is a good idea to check what it has selected. None of the items it selects are essential, but I found it selected some items that I would rather keep, such as my web browser Evernote and Pocket extensions. One person’s PUP could be another person’s useful tool.
Avast! Browser Cleanup
Avast is best known for its antivirus and other security software. Its free antivirus software is very popular and is very effective. If you scroll right down to the bottom of the Avast Store page you will find some free software, including Avast Browser Cleanup. It simply removes unwanted toolbars and other extras from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.
The download is about 3MB and it runs without needing to be installed. There is nothing to it and it as soon as it is run, it displays the results. Either the browsers are clean or the problems are listed with a button to fix them.
Norton Power Eraser
Norton Power Eraser is a standalone tool from Symantec that can scan the computer for a variety of threats and unwanted programs. It is more of an antivirus utility than the other two utilities, but it is still useful at times. As with the others, it is a small program that does not need installing. Just double click it in the Downloads folder to run it.
There is a big scan button on the home screen and this performs a scan for malware. Adware, PUPs and browser toolbars are not malware, so head for the advanced options. Scroll down to the bottom (the scrollbar is almost invisible) and click Scan Now next to Unwanted Application Scan.
It does not detect everything that the other two tools detect, but this is a good thing and it is worth running all the scans because it detects malware that the other two do not target.