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More Great Ways to Speed up Vista: Uninstall Spyware

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/12/2009

This step-by-step Windows Vista tutorial provides instruction on how to get rid of spyware from an infected Vista system and optimize system performance.

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    Spyware is an application that is designed to troll your system collecting confidential, personal information, track your online activities, display ads and even change your system’s configuration, often without your knowledge or consent. In addition to these privacy concerns, spyware does draw on your limited system resources in order to run, and can significantly slowing it down. Here’s how to get rid of spyware to speed up performance.

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    Tip #1: Disable Spyware from Auto Startup

    Spyware typically comes bundled with free add-on utilities such as animated cursors, free wallpaper and toolbars, many of which are designed to launch automatically on start up. They then run in the background, drawing on system resources while invading your privacy. You need to disable these before you run your antivirus program or manually uninstall the spyware. Here’s how:

    1. Press the [Window + R] keys on your keyboard.
    2. Type in msconfig and press Enter.
    3. Select the spyware feature you want to disable from the left-hand menu.
    4. Click on the Disable button in the bottom right-hand.
    5. Click Yes to confirm the change.
    6. Repeat these steps for each add-on or plug-in that you want to prevent from running.

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    Tip #2: Manually Uninstall Spyware Via the Control Panel

    Manually uninstalling spyware can be an involved process, because you need to identify, locate and remove them from your system. Certain spyware may infect areas on your PC that make it difficult for an antispyware application to get rid of without causing even more problems. Use your Control Panel to locate and manually uninstall the spyware.

    1. Click on the Vista Orb to open the Start menu. Click Control Panel.
    2. Click Programs and select Programs and Features.
    3. Browse the list of installed programs to locate the spyware application you want to uninstall, or the name of an application that may have been bundled with the spyware.
    4. Click on the program, and then press the Uninstall button to delete the program.
    5. Enter your password or confirm the change if you are prompted to.
    6. Exit the Programs and Features dialogue box.
    7. Reboot your PC to ensure that the removal process is complete.
    8. Repeat these steps if the spyware program does not uninstall the first time. You may also need to reboot your PC in Safe Mode.

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    Take extreme care to ensure that you do not uninstall a legitimate program. If you cannot positively identify a particular program as spyware, do a Google search to get a description.

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    Tip #3: Delete Spyware Via the Programs Folder

    If the spyware program isn’t listed in your Control Panel, you may be able to uninstall it from the Programs Folder, where most programs install themselves. Some spyware program files include an uninstall utility that you can use to remove the application. Here’s how:

    1. Click on the Vista Orb to open the Start menu.
    2. Right-click on My Computer.
    3. Click on Explore. Expand the folder tree to search for a folder with the name of the spyware application you want to uninstall, or the name of an application that may have been bundled with the spyware.
    4. Click on the folder of the unwanted program. If it contains an uninstall file, this will be displayed in the right-hand pane. It may be labeled as Uninstall, Uninstall Program_Name or Unist.exe.
    5. Click on the file to launch it. Follow the instructions given to uninstall the spyware.
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    Tip #4: Use an Antispyware Program to Run a Full System Scan

    Run an anti-spyware program to scan your system for spyware and remove it. You can use Windows Defender, a free, built-in utility that comes with Vista or use a third-party antispyware program. Review the software files that are identified as possible spyware, and then follow the antispyware program’s instructions to select and delete suspicious files.

    While many antivirus programs can remove some spyware, spyware differs from viruses, so it is recommended that you run an antispyware program specifically developed for this purpose.