Malicious programs in the context of the current article (PUP, AdWare, and Malware) are not viruses, but programs showing unwanted activity on the computer (advertising windows, incomprehensible behavior of the computer and browser, sites on the Internet). They are often installed without the knowledge of users and are difficult to detect and delete. These programs are the biggest threat to cybersecurity. Special malware removal tools for Windows 10, 8 and Windows 7 allow you to cope with such software automatically.
The biggest problem associated with cybersecurity is the unwanted programs that antiviruses often do not report them. The second of the problems – the usual removal paths for them may not work, and the search is difficult. Previously, the problem of malware was addressed in the instructions on how to get rid of advertising in browsers. In this review – I will discuss a set of best free tools to remove unwanted (PUP, PUA) and malware, clean up browsers from AdWare and related tasks. It may also be useful: The best free antiviruses, How to enable the hidden function of protection against unwanted programs in Windows Defender 10.
Note: for those who are faced with pop-up ads in the browser (and its appearance in places where it should not be), I recommend in addition to using these tools, from the very beginning disable extensions in the browser (even those you trust 100 percent) and check the result. And only then try the malware removal tools described below.
- Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool
- Junkware Removal Tool
- CrowdInspect (Windows process check)
- Browser shortcut checking tools
- Chrome and Avast Browser Cleanup Cleaner
- Zemana AntiMalware
- Spybot Search and Destroy
Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool
If your computer is running Windows 10, then the system already has the best of all malware removal tools (Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool), which works both automatically and is available for manual launch.
You can find this utility in C: /Windows /System32 /MRT.exe. Immediately, I note that this tool is not as effective as third-party programs to combat Malware and Adware (for example, the AdwCleaner discussed below works better), but it’s worth a try.
The whole process of searching and removing malware is performed in a simple wizard (where simply pressing “Next”), and the scan itself takes a long time, so be prepared.
The advantage of the Microsoft MRT.exe malware removal tools is that being a system program, it is unlikely to be able to damage something in your system (provided it is licensed). You can also download this tool separately for Windows 10, 8 and Windows 7 on the official site.
Adwcleaner: best among malware removal tools
Adwcleaner is perhaps the best of all malware removal tools. This program is built to combat unwanted software and advertising, which are described below and “more powerful” AdwCleaner, but I recommend to start checking and cleaning the system with this tool. Especially in today’s most common cases, such as pop-up ads and automatic opening of unnecessary pages, AdwCleaner is really good at protecting you.
The main reasons for recommending AdwCleaner is that this malware removal tool is completely free, sufficiently efficient, and also does not require installation and is regularly updated (plus after checking and cleaning it advises how to avoid infecting your computer in Further: very practical advice that I myself often give).
Using AdwCleaner is as simple as starting a program, pressing the “Scan” button, studying the results (you can uncheck the items that you think should not be deleted) and click the “Cleaning” button.
During the uninstall process, it may be necessary to restart the computer (in order to remove the software that is currently running before it is launched). And when the cleaning is completed, you will receive a full-text report on what was deleted. Update: AdwCleaner adds support for Windows 10 and new features. You can download AdwCleaner free from here.
Note: some programs are now disguised as AdwCleaner, with which it is intended to fight, be careful. And, if you download the utility from a third-party site, do not be lazy to check it for VirusTotal (online virus check virustotal.com).
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the most popular of malware removal tools
Malwarebytes (formerly Malwarebytes Anti-Malware) is one of the most popular malware removal tools. It has the ability to find and then removes unwanted software from a computer. Details about the program and its settings, as well as where to download it, can be found in the review Using Malwarebytes Anti-malware.
Most reviews indicate a high degree of malware detection on a computer and its effective removal even in the free version. After checking, the found threats are quarantined by default, and then they can be deleted by going to the appropriate section of the program. If you wish, you can exclude threats and not quarantine / delete them.
Initially, the program is installed as a paid Premium version with additional features (for example, real-time checking), but after 14 days it goes into a free mode, which continues to work fine for manual scanning for threats.
From myself, I can say that during the scan, the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware program found and deleted the Webalta, Conduit and Amigo components, but did not find anything suspicious in the Mobogenie installed on the same system. Plus, confused scan duration, it seemed to me that long. The Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free version for home use can be downloaded for free from the official site.
RogueKiller is one of the malware removal tools that have not yet been purchased by Malwarebytes (as opposed to AdwCleaner and JRT) and the results and threats analysis of threats in this program (available as free, fully working, and paid versions) differ from their counterparts subjectively – for the better.
RogueKiller allows you to scan the system and find malicious items in:
- Running processes
- Windows Services
- Task Scheduler (important recently, see. It starts the browser with ads )
- File hosts, browsers, downloader
In my test, when comparing RogueKiller with AdwCleaner on the same system with some potentially unwanted programs, RogueKiller turned out to be more effective.
If your previous attempts to combat malware did not succeed – I recommend trying: Details on the use and where to download RogueKiller.
Sometimes, the running malware, as well as the changes made by them in the system, prevent the launch of the utilities listed here for removing unwanted software and accessing the registry editor, task manager, and other Windows tools. In order to eliminate this interference, you can use the RKill utility.
You will find details on what exactly RKill does and the features of using the tool in the instruction Free RKill utility for removing malware. You can download RKill from here.
Junkware Removal Tool
Free Adware and Malware Removal Software – Junkware Removal Tool (JRT) is another effective tool to combat unwanted programs, browser extensions, and other threats. Like AdwCleaner, it was acquired by Malwarebytes after some time of growing popularity.
The utility works in the text interface and searches for and automatically removes threats in running processes, autoload, files and folders, services, browsers, and shortcuts (after creating a system restore point). Finally, a text report is created on all the unwanted software removed.
Update 2018: the official website of the program says that JRT support will end this year.
Detailed program overview and download: Remove unwanted programs in Junkware Removal Tool.
CrowdIsnpect – a tool for checking running Windows processes
Most of the utilities in the review to find and remove malicious programs search for executable files on a computer, learn Windows autoload, the registry, sometimes browser extensions, and display a list of potentially dangerous software (by checking its base) with a brief reference about what threat is detected.
In contrast, the Windows process checker CrowdInspect analyzes the currently running Windows 10, 8 and Windows 7 processes, verifying them with online databases of unwanted programs, performing a scan using the VirusTotal service and displaying the network connections established by these processes also the reputation of the sites that own the corresponding IP addresses).
If it is not completely clear from the above, how the free CrowdInspect program can help in the fight against malware, I recommend reading a separate detailed review: Verifying Windows processes using CrowdInspect. Download the program from here.
Another independent and one of the best malware removal tools is SuperAntiSpyware, available both for free (including as a portable version) and in a paid version (with real-time protection). Despite the name, the program allows you to find and neutralize not only Spyware but also other types of threats – potentially unwanted programs, adware, worms, rootkits, keyloggers, browser hijackers and the like.
Despite the fact that the program itself has not been updated for a long time, the database of threats continues to be updated regularly and, when checked, SuperAntiSpyware shows an excellent result, detecting some elements that other popular programs of this type do not see. Download free edition of SuperAntiSpyware from the official website.
Utilities for checking browser shortcuts and other programs
When fighting with AdWare in browsers, not only special attention should be paid to browser shortcuts: they often, externally remaining the same, launch not exactly the browser or launch it in a different way than it does by default. As a result, you can see advertising pages, or, for example, a malicious extension in the browser can be constantly returned.
You can check browser shortcuts manually using only Windows tools, or you can use automatic analysis tools, such as Free Shortcut Scanner or Check Browser LNK.
Details about these shortcuts checking programs and how to do it manually are available in the article –How to check browser shortcuts in Windows.
Chrome and Avast Browser Cleanup Cleaner
One of the most frequent causes of unwanted advertising in browsers (in pop-up windows, by clicking anywhere on any site) is malicious browser extensions and add-ons.
At the same time, from the experience of responding to comments on articles on how to get rid of such advertising, users, knowing this, do not follow the obvious recommendation: turning off all extensions without exception, because some of them seem to them quite trustworthy, which they use for a long time (although in fact it often turns out that this particular extension has become malicious – it is quite possible, it even happens that the appearance of advertisements is caused by extensions that previously blocked it).
There are two popular utilities for checking for unwanted browser extensions.
The first of the utilities is Chrome Cleaning Tool (the official program from Google, previously called Google Software Removal Tool). Previously, it was available as a separate utility on Google, now it is part of the Google Chrome browser.
Details about the utility: use the built-in malware removal tool Google Chrome.
The second popular free program for checking browsers is Avast Browser Cleanup (checks unwanted add-ons in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers). After installing and running the utility, the specified two browsers are automatically scanned for extensions with a bad reputation and, if there are such, the corresponding modules are displayed in the program window with the option to remove them. You can learn more detail about Avast Browser Cleanup from the official site
Zemana Antimalware is another good among malware removal tools that have been made to pay attention to comments on this article. Among the advantages are an effective cloud search (it finds that sometimes AdwCleaner and Malwarebytes Antimalware do not see), scanning individual files, and a generally understandable interface. The program also allows you to protect your computer in real-time (a similar feature is available in a paid version of MBAM).
One of the most interesting features is checking and deleting malicious and suspicious extensions in the browser. Considering the fact that such extensions are the most frequent reason for pop-up windows with advertisements and simply unwanted advertisements among users, this opportunity seems to be just wonderful. In order to enable checking browser extensions, go to “Settings” – “Advanced”.
Among the shortcomings – it works only 15 days for free (however, taking into account the fact that such programs are mostly used in emergency cases, it may be sufficient), as well as the need for an Internet connection to work (in any case, for the initial check of your computer Malware, Adware and other things). Download the free within 15 days version of Zemana Antimalware from the official site.
HitmanPro is a utility that I learned about relatively recently and which I quite liked. This is one of the best malware removal tools avail in the market. The speed of work and the number of detected threats, including remote ones, is really good. The program does not need to be installed and it works very quickly.
HitmanPro is a paid program, but for 30 days you have the opportunity to use all the features for free – this is quite enough to remove all the garbage from the system. When checking, the utility found all the malicious programs that I had previously specifically installed and successfully cleaned the computer from them.
Judging by the feedback from readers left on my site in articles about removing viruses that cause advertisements to appear in browsers (one of the most frequent problems for today) and about returning a normal start page, Hitman Pro is the utility that helps the greatest number of them solve problems with potentially unwanted and simply harmful software, and in combination with the next product in question, it works almost without fail. You can download HitmanPro from the official site.
Spybot Search & Destroy
Spybot Search & Destroy is another effective way to get rid of unnecessary software. It can protect you from malware in the future. In addition, the utility has a wide range of additional features related to cybersecurity.
In addition to searching for unwanted software, the utility allows you to protect your system by keeping track of installed programs and changes in important system files and the Windows registry. In case of unsuccessful removal of malicious programs, which resulted in failures, you can roll back the changes made by the utility. You can download the latest version for free from the developer.
I hope the above-discussed malware removal tools will help you solve the problems you have encountered with cybersecurity. If there is something to supplement the review, I wait in the comments.