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An adware scan is a scan of a computer hard drive to determine if any advertising programs have been secretly installed on the computer. These advertising programs are usually referred to as adware or malware. Generally, the purpose of the hidden programs is to encourage people to click on pop-up advertising generated by the adware. Pop-up ads may show up at any point while the computer is connected to the Internet. Sometimes a complete and thorough adware scan can detect and even remove these unwanted programs.
Most of the time, adware is downloaded onto computers without the user ever knowing it. Adware is usually embedded in programs that people commonly download, such as free computer programs, backgrounds, and games. People who commonly share files with others, a process called peer-to-peer file exchanges, are also vulnerable to having their computers infected with adware. Adware may also be embedded in font downloads and photographs. An adware scan searches through all the files on a computer to find the embedded programs.
Some of the more stealthy types of adware infect computers by generating a pop-up window that incorrectly warns the user of some type of computer error. These warning boxes often try to mimic Microsoft errors so the user will feel safe in clicking the error message. Instead of help from Microsoft, what they will actually end up with is adware, and worse still, the adware could contain a computer virus. These viruses can sometimes break down the security of the infected computer, or in some cases, disable computer functions.
Running an adware scan is usually effective in isolating and removing unwanted advertising software, however, it is important that the user make sure he is running the newest version of the scanning program. Most adware scanning and removal programs offer free updates that users can download to be sure they are running the latest version. This is important because adware scanning developers constantly modify their programs to keep up with the ever-changing database of adware and spyware. As new versions of these malicious programs are launched, the scanning developers incorporate remedies into their programs. People running older versions may not be able to rid their computers of newer adware unless they use the latest version of the scanning program.
It is not always easy to avoid adware infection, but following a few basic safety measures may help. Users should not open random computer alerts. Rather than opening the alert, users should probably run a trusted program to find out if a real threat exists. In addition, it is probably a good idea to avoid freeware and to limit file sharing to known users.