We here at I Am Not A Geek like to hold peoples hands through steps that we're always telling people to do. Often times simply telling somebody to use application X doesn't help them quite enough. Frequently the default configuration of an application may not cover quite as much as it could with a little bit of tweaking. To make sure our readers are following the same steps that I use I'm going to go through this with you step by step to cover exactly what I do.
Ad-Aware is my personal favorite adware/spyware cleaner. Today I'm going to be taking a close look on exactly what people should be doing when we point them to using this product. I'm using Ad-Aware SE build 1.05 in this example so things may change slightly in future builds, but if anything major changes we'll update this guide.
If you'd like to download this program I suggest MajorGeeks's mirror simply because they're the opposite of us and have accepted being geeks.
When you first run the application you'll see something like this:
Immediately after starting this program you should look to the bottom right just about the start button there's some text that says check for updates. Please run this every time you plan on scanning with ad-aware to guarantee that you have the latest definitions possible. That window looks like this:
You'll want to click on connect. If there's an update available a box will popup that has either an OK or a cancel box. Clicking on OK will download the latest file. If there's no update available you'll see the following box which means you're ready to scan!
Now that you have the latest definitions lets check your scan settings real quick to make sure you're getting the most out of the free version. The options are the little image that looks like a gear. Click on that and then select scanning on the left side. Here's an image of what mine looks like:
The Scan within archives is something that increases the scan time considerably but it CAN catch some additional items that you might install in the future. I suggest turning it on, but if you keep a close eye on your system then leave this unchecked since you'll be scanning often enough that you can save the added scan time right now. If you don't plan on scanning frequently then I suggest enabling this. I don't suggest anybody use the skip non-executable files of the skip files larger than fields.
Memory & Registry
I highly suggest making sure that every single one of these options are checked!
Scan active processes - Scans ALL active/running .exe files which you can see through task manager. A must for sure
Scan Registry - This is lower priority than the processes, but a lot of times even after you've stopped the process from running there's still scraps of it sitting in your registry. This is only a basic scan
Deep-scan registry - This scans everything in your registry and will catch quite a bit more than the above scan. The downside is it can take quite a bit longer to complete.
Scan my IE Favorites for banned URLS - Alot of sites are well known for installing considerable amounts of spyware and this will give you a heads up if one of your favorite sites are known for this kind of thing.
Scan my Hosts file - This checks for things like hijackings and various redirects that some applications might put in on you without you ever noticing. I personally change my HOSTS file to read only to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
Now that we've gone over the settings lets start scanning!
On that opening page you'll see a start button. Go ahead and click on that now.
Perform smart system scan is the default scan but I suggest using the Perform full system scan option. The Search for negligible risk entries is also enabled (make sure yours is too). After this select the Next button in the bottom right. After the scan is completed you'll see a screen like this:
As you can see, even somebody like me can accumulate quite a bit over time. Most of these objects are negligible but still I don't want them on my system. That is why I use the Search for negligible risk entries. By default it takes you to the Critical Objects tab but I always jump ovo tho the scan summary tab which is the easiest to use for quickly cleaning your system. It looks like this:
Here you should right click near the checkbox and select "Select All Objects". If you see anything on the list that you wish to keep then simply uncheck that item. After you've gone over the list then select the next button. A confirmation box will pop up and you'll have to click OK if you wish to remove them.
That's everything that I think you'll need to know to get the most out of this free application. If you're still having adware/spyware or virus related problems then please go here.