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Spybot Search & Destroy : Be Spyware Safe

The intrusion of spyware into modern day computing is well known. From cookies to key loggers to dangerous malware, almost everyone who’s accessed the internet has been warned about the dangers that lurk out there. Spybot Search and Destroy is one of the most popular and most effective clients out there, its reputation only bettered by the fact that it’s freeware (available at www.safer-networking.org).

The moment you install, you’re asked to backup your registry. This is a good recommended step. Occasionally, programs such as Spybot remove items in the registry. However, if these ad programs or cookies are essential to some program, then it could cause trouble. Once you’re done with that, click next, check for updates, immunize your system (this basically stops the most common spyware from attacking). Read the help file for more support.

Of course, the same options that you covered can be done again from the main screen. It is recommended that you check for updates frequently. Ensure you have all the updated files before starting.

Click on Check for Problems to begin. In case you have any temporary fi les, Spybot offers to clean them up for you before scanning. Scanning is usually a long process depending on how much memory your computer has.

Spybot usually displays hints. If you’re a first time user, it would do you well to heed them. Else you can always click on Hide and see the main screen. The main screen shows a list of files and bugs that it recognizes as spyware and displays them. Hopefully, if your system is clean, it should show you a plain white front.

Once you start seeing a few entries, click on the dotted bar with the two blue arrows on them. Then click on an entry. It’ll show you the details of the item.

We found a Web Trends cookie in our spyware list. Read the description to see what it does. For example, the tracking cookie (from the company Web Trends Live) had the following description: Uses information about your web surfing that could include any information like accounts and passwords, which is clearly unwanted.

Spyware and similar threats are indicated in red, while the green entries are usage tracks. You need to know which are essential and which are not. Sometimes, you may be using programs that send back information on your program usage; Spybot might detect these as spyware, so instead of blindly selecting all, select only those you know are definitely spyware. Usage tracks are basically records or logs that the system stores. You need not remove them, but if you are essentially paranoid or are finicky about space, you may. Note that stuff like the list of most recently opened Word documents, and other shortcuts could make it to this list.

What you need to focus on are the red entries, read up the information, or if unavailable, search for it on the Internet. Once you’ve assured yourself it is spyware, check the box next to it. Spybot does not insist that you delete all spyware; it merely urges you to do so. If you believe a certain program is vital to another’s functioning, you can decide to keep it. Once done, you may click Fix Selected Problems.

Once done, it should show you a bright green tick which means your problem has been eliminated. Occasionally, it does get difficult to get rid of certain problems. For this do the following:
  1. Search for it on the internet, and see if there’s a certain program affiliation that’s preventing it from getting deleted.
  2. Try a new anti-spyware program (Unlike anti-virus programs, multiple antispyware programs can be installed, however real-time protection on many could cause problems).
  3. Find the exact details of that particular file and delete from the registry.
The last resort is recommended only for advanced users who’ve tampered with their registry before. For those who wish to try more advanced options like the ability to tell Spybot to permanently ignore certain programs or fi le extensions or system internals you may do so by configuring Spybot in the advanced mode. On the main menu bar go to Mode > Advanced Mode. In advanced mode, there’s one more benefit – you may click “Select All” as opposed to selecting or unselecting each and every item found.

You may also do some basic tweaks to your system directly from Spybot like change your start-up options. A lot of spyware products, especially toolbars that get installed on your system start along with your operating system. Hence, you should review them. In the advanced mode, click on tools. A comprehensive list of tools is provided which you should try for yourself once you’re completely acquainted with the software. Some of the tools are: a secure shredder (to completely delete files), a resident shield, IE Tweaks, System Startup Tweaks, a Scan which checks the integrity of your registry, an Uninstall Wizard, and a list of all the network drivers and protocols.

On the whole, Spybot Search and Destroy is a very effect anti-spyware cleaner and monitor. For those who wish to secure their computer, and wish to keep it clean, Spybot is a must-install.