How to Remove Malware

Annoying pop-up ads appear whatever you do on your device? Your PC is noticeably slower than it was just a few days ago? Or, did you inadvertently click on a link in an email from someone you don't know? If you've experienced any of the above, or think that your device may be infected with malware, don't waste any time. Before you can finish an article like this, dangerous programs can access your information and/or take control over your system, utilizing its resources for their own nefarious purposes.

Let's get right to the point: There are lots of ways to 'heal' your system from malware infections (short-term) and prevent threats from gaining a foothold to begin with (long-term). Some programs that offer basic functions are free, whereby for access to premium features, you'll need to open your wallet. Below, we'll show you three methods for solving malware problems in just a matter of minutes.

1. Possibility: Remove adware with AdwCleaner for free

AdwCleaner is a free anti-malware program produced by Malwarebytes, that targets spyware, adware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and browser hijackers. The program doesn't protect against all types of malware, but it does offer a good degree of defense against uninvited visitors to your system.

AdwCleaner is light-weight and both downloaded and installed in a matter of seconds. In comparison to more complex antivirus suites, its functionality is very limited, to the extent that there isn't much else to do beyond combat malware. By clicking on "Scan Now" in AdwCleaner's dashboard, you can immediately scan for unwanted software.

This scan also only takes a matter of seconds (depending on the number of objects to be searched).

When finished, you can view the scan results and see those files that AdwCleaner considers dangerous or unnecessary, allowing you to quarantine them if desired. Before doing this, make sure that you first save all of your work and close any programs that you might have open, since AdwCleaner will automatically stop all running processes.

After AdwCleaner has quarantined the selected data, you'll need to restart your computer to complete the process.

After the restart, the process is complete, and you can view log files under the similarly named menu.

If you feel completely at ease and want to conserve system resources, you can easily uninstall the program by clicking on settings and selecting 'Remove AdwCleaner'.

In sum, the entire process of downloading and installing AdwCleaner, and running a scan took a few minutes and was completely free. The program is somewhat basic, and doesn't identify or protect against all types of malware. Should your malware problem be more severe, you'll need 'a bigger boat', in the form of a full anti-malware program.

Among these are quite a few which don't cost a dime. Some developers embrace the freemium model, offering a basic program free of charge, while reserving certain advanced features for paying customers. In EXPERTE.com's evaluation, Avast Antivirus impressed us the most from among these programs.

2. Possibility: Remove malware with Avast Free

Like AdwCleaner, downloading Avast Free Antivirus only takes a matter of seconds. When installation concludes, the program automatically runs a first scan on your system after clicking on the green 'Confirm' button.

This scan is more thorough than that of AdwCleaner, and as such, takes a bit longer. Avast checks your device in four areas: Browser threats, outdated apps, viruses & malware, and advanced issues.

If Avast identifies any problems in the first three categories, you can remedy this for free in the next step.

However, advanced issues, of which any system is likely to have a few, is Avast's way of attracting (paying) customers, since resolution of these, using premium features, is reserved for subscribers.

For performing basic scans and endowing your system with real-time protection, Avast Free Antivirus is more than adequate. In order to have more comprehensive real-time protection, you'll need to cough up for a premium package, however, this is the same for every developer.

Bitdefender was EXPERTE.com's anti-malware winner, owing to its high security, excellent features, and user-friendliness.

3. Possibility: Real-time protection with our winner, Bitdefender

If you want to bring out the 'big guns' in the anti-malware battle, we recommend Bitdefender. Owing to its size, the program takes a few minutes to install, significantly longer than the other two solutions we've explored above. In the program's dashboard you'll see three scanning options: You can run a quick scan, a system scan, or a vulnerability scan that will look for weaknesses (such as outdated software).

The quick scan does take a few minutes, but should be able to catch most malware threats. The system scan takes longer, and requires a restart to complete.

Once the scan is finished, you can resolve any problems that have been found through the program's dashboard with just a few clicks.

Scans are only one of the defense mechanisms that Bitdefenders provides. With real-time protection the program constantly monitors your system in the background, while in the security menu, you can configure advanced settings for these features

The program's premium version also includes a password manager, a VPN, and anti-theft measures. Bitdefender's comprehensive safety center helps prevent both malware and other dangers from the web, resolves existing problems on your system, and enhances your privacy.

Conclusion

In case you only want to quickly flush out any malware on your computer, you can certainly make good use of free tools like AdwCleaner or freemium ones like Avira. Should you want a comprehensive anti-malware suite, which offers additional security features, we recommend the winner of our evaluation, Bitdefender.

To view all results from our review of anti-malware programs, click here.

Author Janis von Bleichert
Janis von Bleichert studied business informatics at the TU Munich and computer science at the TU Berlin, Germany. He has been self-employed since 2006 and is the founder of EXPERTE.com. He writes about hosting, software and IT security.
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