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Windows XP Tips, Illustrations and registry edits
Spyware is the fastest growing threat on the Internet. Certain variety of spyware is becoming as dangerous as viruses and trojans, while some don't cause any major harm to the system - but still report your internet surfing habits to a remote webmaster. That's not all, but they affect the system performance as well. Here are the spyware removal and protection tools which you must have, at the very least. Before proceeding to Spyware removal, I would advice you create a System Restore point in XP (in case), considering the fact that 'sometimes' spyware removal affects the normal operation of Windows.
Prevents spyware from being installed, by blocking a huge list of known spyware controls. Weekly updates available via it's Auto-Update feature. Most effective method I have ever seen. Uses the technique named Kill-Bit using which bad controls are blocked. Note that if your system is already infected with spyware, this software does not help much. This software is purely a shield. Highly recommended product!
Award-winning spyware remover, also a freeware. Updated frequently as and once new spyware variants are discovered. and web-update feature available.
This software is equally good as Ad-Aware, in addition contains Immunize feature where-in you can block a list of known ActiveX controls (using the same Kill-Bit technique as SpywareBlaster uses). Also provides a SBHelper Browser Helper Object to plug-in to Internet Explorer. The BHO is very useful to block unwanted ActiveX controls and Cookies while surfing. Automatic Update feature available. Restricted Zones list also available.
The only effective utility which can remove all (or most) variants of the fearsome CoolWebSearch variants of spyware. CoolWebSearch variants are extremely annoying as each variant uses a different method to plug into the system. CWShredder is the tool to remove those variants.
Very popular diagnostic utility, which displays almost EVERY browser add-ons installed and generates a report for troubleshooting unknown problems (if the above tools fail to solve the problem). A technician, by looking at the HijackThis log can pin-point where the hijacker resides and can eliminate them easily. THIS TOOL lists all SPYWARE BROWSER EXTENSIONS and also the LEGIT ones. You require a greater skill level to diagnose this log. So, don't fix the entries yourself if you don't know what you're doing with HijackThis.
Download anti-spyware reference files locally and apply to other computers Plus, there are other methods and tools to block unwanted sites (using Hosts file, and using Restricted Zone in Internet Explorer) You need a combination of all of the above removal tools (in most cases), I repeat "ALL". And, updating the definitions is equally important. Without the updated definitions, running a spyware cleaner is almost useless. Note that anti-virus software can't remove spyware, they can only deal with viruses and trojans.