Like so many things in computing, adware has become something of a war – an arms race between the adware makers and the adware remover makers. There are many programs available that can remove adware from programs, allowing users to keep using the programs for free without the ads. Companies that rely on the ad revenue to pay their programmers and other costs argue that this is tantamount to hacking, but that argument hardly dissuades people from removing the annoying ads from their favourite piece of software. After all, it’s your computer, isn’t it?
The most famous adware removal program is Ad-Aware, available from lavasoft.com, and its reputation is well-justified. The free version, Ad-Aware personal, is a very capable remover of adware and all sorts of other unwanted software and files. It’s an essential download, especially if you use Internet Explorer or often download shady software. If you pay for the Plus or Pro versions, the program will sit in the background all the time and kill adware on sight – well worth it.
A popular alternative to Ad-Aware is the somewhat amusingly named Spybot: Search and Destroy, which you can find at http://www.spybot.info. It is often more complicated to use than Ad-Aware, but on the other hand can be much faster, making it a favourite with people who want to scan often. It also makes all of its most advanced features available for free – there is no paid version of Spybot, which leads to a more enthusiastic and helpful user community surrounding it.
In future versions of Windows, Microsoft plans to integrate its own anti-adware solution, Windows Defender. While it is a capable program, there are fears that Microsoft acting to decide which software is and isn’t acceptable could set a bad precedent, considering the number of times it has been told off for abusing its monopoly.