Best Free Adware Cleaner and Removal Tools 2019

Is your browser/device loading up more ads and pop-ups than usual? Alternatively, are you getting endless redirects when you open up your browser? Well, if you are not in the ad business, then there is a high chance that your device is adware infected.

Since the advent of the internet, advertisements have been one of the best ways to generate revenue. Most companies use ads for good purposes, usually legitimately, but the same cannot be said for others. With the exponential rise of cybercrime, cybercriminals have found a way to generate revenue by pushing endless ads. This is by using a malware known as adware.

In this guide, we will explain what is adware, common types of adware, how adware infects your device, the effects of adware, how to deal with adware, and how to avoid future adware infections.

In a Rush? Here are 3 Quick and Easy Steps to remove adware:

  1. Click here to download and install Malwarebytes for your device.
  2. Run a full system scan by clicking the Scan Now This process takes a few minutes.
  3. After the scan is complete, click Remove Selected to remove detected threats from your device. Sometimes a restart may be required to clean your device entirely.

Alternatively, you can download Malwarebytes AdwCleaner and repeat the above steps. Malwarebytes AdwCleaner is a lightweight version specifically designed to remove adware only.

What is Adware?

Adware is a short form for advertising malware that usually installs itself without direct permission from the user. This type of malware persistently pushes and displays ads, including pop-ups, autoplay commercials, and banners on your device. Depending on the design, adware may only display ads, or pop-ups and ad windows or redirect you to advertising websites. Sometimes, adware can alter your search results to show ads.

This may not seem bad at first, but with the excessive amounts of ads involved, it is quite annoying and even irritating. Some adware even proceeds to collect data on websites you visit to display custom ads. If exploited by malicious people, this data can be used to propagate malicious ads – malvertising. Other ads will not close until you click them, and this, in turn, opens up other ads. This is the most common way adware generates revenue for malicious people.

What Types of adware are there?

There are two broad categories of Adware types. Other types also exist depending on different factors. Such factors include target devices and mode of operation. The two broad categories are; Bundled adware and On-site adware.

Bundled adware

This is a type of adware that comes hidden in other software; usually, it is commonly found in freeware, shareware, and even in cracked software. When you install the software, the adware also installs itself without your permission. You might not notice it until later on when you discover something is wrong with your device. This type of adware can range from pushing annoying ads to tracking your internet habits. Sometimes, the ads might be irrelevant to the installed product. This is the reason why it is always recommended to avoid free software. The price is usually paid in ads. Legitimate software that relies on advertising also bundle ads in their software. These are less harmful.

On-site adware

This type of adware is also known as a browser hijacker. On-site adware is dangerous and very difficult to get rid of. This type of adware usually infects browsers. When you visit an adware-infected website, the website takes advantage of various vulnerabilities in your browser. When a vulnerability is exploited, and a drive-by download is made, adware is injected into your browser without your consent. What makes on-site adware dangerous is their ability to; track your browsing information, alter your search engine, modify your browser shortcut, and even change your search page. With the payload onboard, anytime you surf the internet, you will experience numerous ads.

Depending on the platform they infect, adware can also be classified into Mobile adware and Desktop adware.

Effects of adware on your device

The primary goal of adware is to push endless ads and pop-ups. Most of the time, adware is considered as an annoyance rather than a threat. In extreme cases, adware can affect your security, and this is where things start to get serious. As discussed earlier, some adware can be used to collect various information, such as your browsing habits and even your IP address. If malicious people with dangerous intents get hold of this information, your internet security and privacy will be at risk. Here are various adware effects.

  • A bad browsing experience: adware push endless ads, banners, video commercials, flashy ads, and pop-ups. Attempting to close some ads will only lead to a downpour of ads. With this kind of experience, you will be irritated most of the time you surf the internet on your browsers.
  • More bandwidth consumptions: one ad may seem harmless, but tons of them including video ads, will consume a lot of bandwidth. There is also the fact that other adware will also be sending traffic to its creators. This is bad news especially if you are on a limited internet plan.
  • Lowers performance of your device/browser: the more the ads, the more computing resources will be used. It is even worse if the adware decides to open ads in new tabs and browser windows. If this happens, your browser occupies more RAM and uses most of your device’s processing power. This leads to a slow device/browser, and in worst-case scenario, your device/browser may crash.
  • Cyber threats and attacks: adware collects various information, such as your browsing habits without your consent. This is literally spying. Additionally, Adware may redirect the collected information in a man-in-the-middle attack fashion. The creators of the adware can then use the information to figure out which relevant ads to push. Using this information, malicious actors can launch other cyber-attacks.

How to know if your device has adware?

From the effects above, it is easy to know if your device has adware, or it is just regular advertisements. If you are not sure, here are some signs to guide you;

  • Browser tabs and windows open unexpectedly.
  • The browser has new toolbars and other add-ons you did not install.
  • The browser’s homepage has changed without your permission.
  • You are getting bombarded with irrelevant ads.
  • There are more redirects than usual.
  • The browser is extremely slow and sometimes crashes.
  • Your device is also slow, and it shows your browser is taking all the resources.
  • There is an unexplained spike in bandwidth consumption.
  • You get frustrated and annoyed anytime you see ads or pop-ups while browsing.

If you have experienced almost all the above signs, definitely your device/browser has adware.

How to remove adware from your device with Adware Cleaner

There are a few sure ways to deal with malware. They include using adblockers, using an adware removal tool, and using an antimalware software.

Adblockers

Adblockers offer an easy way to deal with ads and pop-ups. This is a solution when you are not sure if your device has adware. Adblockers work by blocking scripts that websites use to display ads, pop-ups, and even the ones used to open up a new tab/window when you click on a website. Some websites might break when aggressive adblockers are in use. To some extent, adblockers can be effective when blocking adware written using the same scripts an adblocker is designed to block. However, if the adware does not use detectable scripting language, then adblockers will not suffice.

Adware cleaner and removal tools

These are programs dedicated to getting rid of adware from your device. They are specifically designed to target many adware and unwanted programs that are likely to inject your device with adware. The recommendable adware removal tool is Malwarebytes AdwCleaner. To remove adware using the AdwCleaner tool proceed as follows.

  1. Download and install Malwarebytes AdwCleaner.
  2. Launch the tool and on the Dashboard section, click the Scan now button and wait for a few minutes.
  3. On the results that show up, select the items you want to quarantine/disable, if any.
  4. Click the next button to select preinstalled software you want to quarantine/disable – the detected software might be the one injecting adware.
  5. Lastly, click the Quarantine button to move selected items to the quarantine section.
  6. If you want to get rid of the detected items, open the Quarantine section, and click the Delete

Antimalware software

An antimalware software such as Malwarebytes Antimalware is the best solution. This software gets rid of malware, prevents further malware infection, and protects your device against all sorts of malware. In a nutshell, it is like a combination of both the adware removal tool and an antivirus. To get rid of adware using Malwarebytes Antimalware proceed as follows.

  1. Download and install Malwarebytes Antimalware.
  2. Launch the program, and on the Scan section, click the Scan now button to perform the recommended threat scan.
  3. On the results that show up, select the items you want to quarantine/disable, if any.
  4. Click the next button to select preinstalled software you want to quarantine/disable – the detected software might be the one injecting adware.
  5. Lastly, click the Quarantine button to move selected items to the quarantine section.
  6. If you want to get rid of the detected items, open the Quarantine section, and click the Delete

How to avoid adware in the future?

To indeed avoid malware, you have to be cyber-aware and practice safe computing. That is, know what is right and wrong for your device. You should also implement some preventive and detective measures to ensure that adware does not get you unware. Here are some ways to avoid adware;

  • Install an adblocker/adware removal tool/antimalware software and update them regularly.
  • Ensure your firewall is always on.
  • Update your operating system and browsers as soon as updates become available.
  • Surf on secure internet connections.
  • Avoid opening attachments, ads, and pop-ups unless you are sure of what you are doing.
  • Be cautious when downloading freeware and shareware. If you cannot avoid them, download them from reputable sites.
  • Be cautious when downloading any files from the internet, especially from torrent sites. Always read reviews to make sure you have the right file.
  • Lastly, always check your installed apps and add-on. If you find apps you did not install, uninstall them immediately and perform a full system scan.

FAQ

What are Bundleware, freeware, and shareware?

Bundleware is a collection of one or more software that can be installed alongside each other. Although not necessarily, bundleware can harbor malicious software such as adware. Freeware is software that the developer offers without cost to users. Freeware can be used to generate revenue for the developer by pushing ads – this can be harmful if intrusive ads are employed. Shareware is similar to freeware in that it can be used for free. Unlike Freeware, Shareware is only free for a limited period. After that period elapses, the users are required to pay to continue using the software without limitations.

What is a drive-by download?

A drive-by download is any download that occurs without the user's consent or knowledge. It also refers to unintended downloads that a user agrees to download without understanding the outcome or consequences. Drive-by downloads are highways used by cybercriminals to deliver malware payloads that exploit vulnerabilities in a given system. Drive-by downloads can occur on websites or in bundleware.

Is adware similar to malvertising?

Adware is usually a program that bombards users with endless annoying ads and pop-ups. The ads can be malicious or not and mostly used to generate revenue. On the other hand, malvertising, also known as malicious advertising, is the distribution of malware using advertisement. Adware and malvertising are commonly confused concepts.

Wrap up

Besides offering the worst browsing experience and causing frustrations, Adware can be a security threat that can affect your internet security and privacy. Always be cautious about what you download on the internet and avoid ads at all costs. Use the above guidelines to ensure your device is adware proof at all times.

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About Adam Green

Adam is an experienced security aficionado who has written 100s of articles about malware, VPNs and staying secure online. He has been writing for PreciseSecurity.com since 2010.