First we will look into checking exisiting programs running
in the background. These can bog down your computer, interfere
with other programs you do want to run and just slow things
down. Sometimes they can be tracked down to multiple icons
in your system tray (your system tray is on the lower right
of you screen.
Some icons in your system tray are beneficial, such as music
players, firewalls or existing spyware and virus checkers.
If you see a lot of icons, or notice some very new ones,
it might be due to spyware.
These programs can direct you to advertising
sites or record your Internet surfing activities to download
even more advertising.
Symptoms include sluggish performance, a new home page or search engine for
your Internet browser, or persistent modem activity even when you're not
sitting at the computer. You can infect your computer just by visiting certain
sites, having certain pop-up ads appear on your desktop, or from downloading
free software. A number of programs are available that can diagnose
and quarantine these pests.
Spybot Search and Destroy
It's free, without
even an annual subscription for the periodic file updates (I check mine weekly).
Spybot offers both basic and advanced modes and includes the widest variety
of customization. You can schedule it for automatic updates (I do mine weekly).
Spybot was thorough, rooting out even obscure spyware.
As a first step, it can't hurt to download a free copy of Spybot to see whether
your system is infected.
Get a Second (or Third) Opinion
I run another program, also free, called Ad-aware SE Personal Edition. I find
it very thorough.
Also free is Microsoft AntiSpyware (currently beta), which
includes automatic updates and scheduling options.
Given that no single antispyware
app can find and quarantine every piece of spyware, we recommend you run
all three free apps; that way you're sure to get rid of
as much spyware as you can.
If you make an effort in prevention by using these tools
and keeping them updated, you should run into few problems
and keep your computer running quicker and with fewer annoyances.