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How to (fail, then succeed to) get rid of unwanted adware

March 19, 2009

My brother-in-law wrote to me today, regarding some trouble he’s been having with unwanted Internet Explorer windows opening (showing gambling websites and the like) when he started up IE.

I’m at my dad’s at the moment and his laptop has got infected with adware (I think that’s what it is called) – every time you open Internet Explorer you get a pop-up ad. I remember you told me how to get rid of it of my machine last year, but can’t remember now – is it a download?

Download Spybot-S&D:

and AdAware Free Version:

Install them and run them one at a time. They’ll fight with each other if you do both at once.

Also, if you don’t have up-to-date anti-virus software, I suggest that you install “free basic protection”:

That should fix it, but if you’re still having problems, you can try running the Trend Micro HouseCall:

This scans your computer “from the outside”, so it’s more difficult for viruses to hide. however, (I think that) you’ll have to be connected to the internet for it to do its stuff…

…and, perhaps most importantly, stop looking at dodgy websites. 😉

Hi dan, I ran all of these and they have removed stuff, but we still keep getting the web ads popping up all the time.

Have you run Windows Update? You might need an IE patch. If that doesn’t work, you’ll probably have to reinstall IE – the advert has probably managed to modify the command that launches IE. It *would* be best to uninstall IE, restart, then install a freshly-downloaded version… but IE is tightly integrated with XP, so it’s much easier to just download and install over the top.

I suggest IE7 rather than the IE8 Beta.

I’ve reinstalled IE 7 over the top, but still the same. It won’t let me remove IE from “add/remove programs”. We still get the pop up add every time IE is opened – perhaps it’s time to throw it out the window…

You could try launching it directly from “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe”

If that works then there’s something wrong with the shortcut. if it doesn’t then, erm, give up and use firefox…

Update: See here for the final fix.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2009 10:03 pm

    Firefox rules!

  2. March 25, 2009 8:05 am

    True, although when I asked him last night how it was going, he said he’d installed Firefox, but that he got the same pop-up ads when he launched that!


    So I said that it “wasn’t a machine I’d want to do internet banking on”, and told him to reformat.

  3. April 6, 2009 10:44 am

    In one last throw of the die…

    I don’t know if you got any further with fixing your dad’s machine. if not, he might want to try running


    …and got the reply…

    Brilliant dan, we just ran these two and it all seems to be working a lot faster with no ads.


  4. April 11, 2009 9:37 pm

    You need to install these extensions: NoScript, AdBlock Plus, and WOT (web of trust).

    I haven’t seen an advert on the internet for years… when I use someone else’s computer I remember what it used to be like and I wonder how people can bear it.

    Once Chrome supports Xmarks though I will probably switch.

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