Free Spyware Removal
Is free spyware removal risky?
Unfortunately, just as there is spyware itself to worry about, there are also risky programs that either masquerade as, or promise, free spyware removal. Because of this, computer users must maintain a discerning eye when making the decision to download and trust a free spyware removal program.
The Spyware Warrior List of Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products & Web Site provides a comprehensive list of programs at http://www.spywarewarrior.com that claim to protect the user from spyware, yet are considered 'rogue/suspect' because they "are of unknown, questionable, or dubious value as anti-spyware protection."
The list contains information on free spyware removal programs that, although legitimate, are problematic or unreliable. It also includes any programs that are known to be deceptive, with a few stemming directly from the actual servers of spyware and adware.
Users are cautioned to beware of free spyware removal programs because some exist solely to make money. These programs fool users into believing their computers are full of spyware and adware, when none really exists, and then try to charge the unknowing user exorbitant 'registration' fees in order to remove the (non-existent) software. These situations are called 'false positives' and can be easily detected by installing a known and trusted anti spyware program to double check; if the secondary program does not detect the same bugs, then the original 'free spyware' is probably a sham.
Risky spyware removal programs can provide an overall bad scan, often missing a number of known spyware and adware programs. A bad scan may not identify the programs it does find and frequently neglects to inform the user as to where in the PC they were found. Sometimes the programs will imitate another program; for example, Spybot Search and Destroy warns buyers to "Please beware!" on its Web site. Spybot Search and Destroy claims that PC Tools' Spyware Doctor has been marketing under the Spybot name, leading to a number of complaints because while Spybot Search and Destroy is completely free, Spyware Doctor charges for use.
If you believe that you are using a rogue spyware program, immediately stop all scans and uninstall the program. If you cannot find it in the Add/Remove Programs menu, you may have inadvertently downloaded a brand of spyware. You can remedy the situation by installing a trusted free spyware removal program and scan anew. This is not to say that there aren't any dependable programs; check here for the Top 5 free spyware downloads.