Owning a computer and keeping it in good shape involves more than just dusting off the outside of it, it requires regular maintenance, just like a car. Inexpert users may occasionally de-fragment the hard disk, clean up old archived and downloaded internet files and run the occasional virus check, however things don't end there, this is just the beginning of tasks which should be performed on a regular basis (at least once a month). If you love to browse the web then you have certainly come across web sites which resize your window, send you hellish pop-up screens and take advantage or your browser script vulnerabilities, if this is the case you might want to do some research about spyware, viruses and malware which can hurt your PC performance and compromise your data. Today there is a wide range of PC "diseases" sort to speak, they are transmitted through P2P file shares, they may also be embedded on web sites or offered through software sharing networks as exploits. Lets take a look at one of these "evil applications" - spyware.
Spyware: As the word implies, spyware software is designed to spy on you. These applications are usually "bundled" with free software which is being given away. If you love to chat with friends through MSN messenger, ICQ, Yahoo messenger then you have seen those ads which offer free smileys and cute "plug-ins" these are basically the root of all evil when it comes to computer problems. When you see these smileys you are thinking about how cute they are and how they would make your online conversations look cool, and if you are like most of us you don't care about reading the installation agreement which is 15 miles long, hey who would? This is strike one. Once the spyware application is installed it runs on the background gathering and sending information about the places you visit the most in order to show you pop ups related to what you are seeing, in some cases the advertisement may not be related at all, which is why some spyware companies (yes, they are actually established businesses) have been sued for showing inappropriate advertising to children who are attracted to these freebies. This is strike two.
In most cases, when you realize you have spyware the first logical thing you would do is search for an application to remove this unwanted program. The best ones out there are Spybot, AVG Anti-Spyware, PC Tools software and utilities bundled with reputable antivirus programs. Now that you have one of these removal tools you might run into serious problems after removing the spyware modules, why? - because some of them will completely disable your internet connection and will not let you go back online, this might be a step to get you to restore the removed application but in many cases this is impossible, if you use the spyware-recommended removal tool there always will be unwanted spying modules left in your computer. Strike three. Having a computer which can not access the web because of spyware removal is reason enough to go mad, especially if you have bills to pay, homework to research or important emails to send.
In order to avoid all of these spyware related complications it is recommended you install an anti-spyware application which can also have modules to protect you from adware, malware and all sorts of "ware" you can think of. Do not confuse the purpose of a virus scanner or firewall with an anti-spyware application, they are completely different animals and should be treated like so. Avoiding such "free downloads" can save keep you trouble free, can protect your sensitive information and save you money on repairs which are necessary after a spyware removal problem.
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