How to Get Rid of Adware from Your Computer

Adware is one of the most common types of malware online today and impacts all kinds of web users whether you use a Mac, PC, iOS or Android device.


Getting your device infected with adware is usually just annoying, but can also sometimes put your personal data at risk. Either way, it’s important to know how to recognise when you have adware and how to remove it.


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In this guide we’ll explore:

What adware is and how it works

Adware is a type of unwanted software which hits you with advertising such as pop-ups, display ads or video, redirects your searches to advertising sites and collects your data for marketing purposes.


Perhaps the most annoying thing about adware is how it’s usually loaded to your computer with your permission. You’re likely to have agreed to this in the EULA (End User License Agreement) when downloading something else.  


Adware developers make revenue from how many times users see or click their ads. This is why adware is so intrusive; the more eyes see their ads, the more money they pocket.

How does adware get on your computer?

Adware typically infects your computer when you’ve been tricked or deceived into granting permission to download it in the background along with another program you genuinely want.


Perhaps you were looking to try out a different type of video player or download a cool new font? Unfortunately, in cases like these, it’s common to find “free” comes at a cost in the form of adware. It’s also very common for adware to hide in anything you might download from copyright infringing websites.


And how is it that you inadvertently granted this “agreement”? You need to be wary of certain tactics from scammers such as:

  • pre-populated checkboxes
  • hidden options to skip certain steps when downloading
  • fraudulent online recommendation to tempt you into agreeing to specific options
  • consent hidden within a licence agreement

Looking at these scams, we can see how  deception lies around every corner. The only way to know for sure you’re not exposing yourself to unwanted adware is to block off your day and read your licence agreement in full before clicking download.


Let’s be honest, for most of us, that’s just not realistic.


Therefore, the next steps aim to help you understand how to spot adware on your computer and the best ways to remove it.

How do I know if I have adware on my computer?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between legitimate pop- ups ads and adware. Here are some telltale signs you’ve got an adware problem on your hands:

  • your web browser’s homepage has changed
  • your web browser is much slower than usual
  • your web browser frequently crashes
  • banner ads are in unusual places (they are usually found on the side or at the top of a page)
  • you’re seeing text advertisements throughout any web pages you’re reading
  • the ads you see are often for untrusted or shady brands
  • website links direct you to unintended pages
  • suspicious error messages
  • software starts installing without your permission

How dangerous is adware?

Adware is considered a potentially unwanted program (PUP). However, if we’re honest, the term “potentially unwanted” is generous. A PUP is pretty much always unwanted! They do very little beyond cluttering your browser, tracking your online behavior, slowing your user experience and bombarding you with advertisements.


Even though adware and other PUPs are a nuisance, they are not malicious software, also known as malware.


Can adware steal my passwords?

No. Adware is generally unmalicious and its purpose is to spam you with advertising. It doesn’t feature keyloggers that can interpret your keystrokes to reveal your credit card or password details. Threats such as these are associated with malware known as spyware.


Can adware steal my information?

When it comes to personal information like passwords, adware doesn’t go as far as stealing this information. However, adware can and does gather other details such as your browsing habits and sells this valuable data to third-party advertisers.


Сan adware slow down my computer?

Absolutely. However, this is just a side effect of its real purpose (to advertise) and not the end goal.


Is adware considered a virus?

No. A virus is typically more dangerous and illegal malware. Adware is a PUP.


Adware is legal and cannot steal your passwords. However, it’s still “throw-the-laptop-out-the-window” annoying! It’s also very easy to be tricked into downloading adware so it’s important you understand the most effective ways to remove it.


If you experience any of the previously mentioned signs of adware or are concerned that one of your downloaded programs may have allowed adware to access your device, then follow the below steps to manually remove it from your PC or Mac.

How do I find adware on my computer?

The simplest way to root out adware is to use an internet security software and run through the following steps:

  1. Download reputable internet security software
  2. Follow the prompts to install
  3. Run a scan

If your suspicions are confirmed and your scan finds adware, then all that’s left to do is promptly get rid of it.

How do I remove adware from my PC?

As mentioned above, by far the simplest way is to use a trusted antivirus software. However, if you want to do a manual exploration, try the following for Windows 10:

  1. Close all browsers and software
  2. Open the Windows Task Manager
  3. Click Processes
  4. Look out for anything suspicious, right click, and End Task
  5. Open the Windows Control Panel
  6. Hit Programs and Features and Uninstall A Program
  7. Identify the suspicious program and uninstall it

How do I remove adware from Chrome?

Even if you manage to uninstall the adware from your PC, it may have interfered with the settings on your browser so you might still need to fix this problem.


Run through the following steps in Chrome to resolve adware issues:

  1. Backup your files. Just a precaution, but it’s always a good idea to back up when you’re dealing with a potential cyber threat. You can use an external hard drive or cloud storage
  2. Open Chrome
  3. Navigate through the Main Menu to More Tools, then Extensions.
  4. Look for extensions labeled Installed by enterprise policy
  5. Remove them
  6. Go back to Chrome’s Main Menu, then to Advanced Settings
  7. Click Reset settings to their original defaults.
  8. Confirm and Reset

How do I remove adware from my Mac?

Similarly for Mac, you can scan and remove adware very simply with the help of a good antivirus software. Alternatively, you can try to remove adware manually with the following steps:

  1. Open Activity Monitor located on the LaunchPad
  2. Click on Force Quit if you see any suspicious applications. You’ll find this on the top left corner of the window. Any unfamiliar applications added recently without your knowledge might be deemed suspicious.
  3. Drag the app into Trash
  4. Restart your machine, then empty the Trash icon

How to prevent adware on your computer

Adware is notoriously sneaky so it’s likely that all of us at some stage have fallen into the trap of downloading it by mistake.


Here are some tips on how you can protect your devices from falling victim to adware:

  1. Keep your operating systems up to date
  2. Install trusted antivirus software
  3. Only download and install trusted programs and software
  4. Opt for custom installation to ensure you’re not being lumped with additional and unwanted software
  5. Be aware of what you’re clicking (i.e. that you’re not absentmindedly agreeing to adware!)

Clario protects you from annoyances like adware as well as malicious threats such as breaches of personal information, identity theft and money loss.

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