Taking Advantage of Ad-Aware

Okay first off, let's have a little introduction to Lavasoft's Ad-Aware.

From Ad-aware user manual : What is Ad-aware?

Ad-aware is THE award winning, multi-trackware detection and removal utility (designed for Windows 98 / 98SE / ME / NT40 / 2000 / XP Home / XP Pro) that will comprehensively scan your memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known Datamining, aggressive advertising, Parasites, Scumware, Keyloggers, selected traditional Trojans, Dialers, Malware, Browser hijackers, and tracking components.

Ad-aware will provide you with the confidence to surf the Internet knowing that your privacy will remain intact.
Okay as many of you know, Ad-Aware is one of the leading and (IMO) one of the best spyware/adware scanner's/detector's on the "market". It work's extremely well, is amazing functionality-wise and reliablity-wise and has a good "accuracy" rate so to speak. By that I mean it almost alway's (if not always) find's everything remotely close to a spyware/adware application on your system. As of right now, the current build for Ad-aware is version 6. Now there is a free version and a version you need to purchase to upgrade for another feature called Adwatch. During this tutorial I will be covering mostly the free version. Anyway's, let's move onto using ad-aware, customization, and our first scan!

Now, when you startup Ad-aware 6 you will get a screen that will show your status. It will alert you of your Last System Scan, Total Object's Removed, Object's Quarantined, Object's in ignore list, and Total Ad-Aware scan's. You can also check for update's to Ad-Aware on the Status page and it is suggested that you always have the latest version of Ad-aware running. Now above the status page you will see various icon's. The second icon is for Configuration setting's which is what we are going to click.


In the Configuration section, you can configure ad-aware to run on startup of Window's (recommended if you are really paranoid you'll have spyware/adware), Automatically save log file (turned on by default), Automatically Quarantine Object's prior to removal (I don't typically do this, I just remove the file's if needed), and Safe Mode (recommended). Going to Scanning, you can customize Drive's/Folder's and Memory/Registry. I suggest Deep Scan Registry, Scan Registry, and Scan Active Processes FOR EVERYONE. This is a MUST in the configuration because you never know if spyware or adware is running in the registry or in the "background". In the option for Automation, it is recommended that you select Perform Smart System Scan. In this case, it will scan virtually everything and will work quicker yet thorough. For newer user's, I wouldn't recommend playing around with the tweak feature as it can change around file's and whatnot that could affect Ad-Aware's performance. Now that everything is tweaked and configgered let's get onto our first scan!

Scanning for Adware/Spyware

Okay to scan for Adware and Spyware using Ad-aware, you simply click Scan Now from the status screen. This take's you to the preparation screen where you can edit the setting's for the scan. It is typically recommended that you only click Perform Smart system-scan unless you want to customize the option's of the scan or scan a particular folder/file. Also check Activate In-Depth Scan as it is also recommended. From there click Next and wahla! Your first scan. However, let's take an indepth look at the scanning process, shall we? During the scanning process, you can see in the top right corner the number of Object's Scanned. You can also see the current process Ad-aware is performing. Below it is a chart that will show/tell you how many running processes, how many object's have been recognized and how many have been ignored. To the right of that, you'll see how many processes, registry key's/values, and file's/folder's have been identified. At any time during the scan (you shouldn't do this, but whatever) you can choose to abort by clicking abort. The scanning process can take as little as a few minutes to an hour or two depending on how many file's, etc you have on your system.

Once the scan has finished you might see a blinking red spider (hehe) on your screen and it will show you how many processes and file's were detected. You can see your logfile by clicking Show Logfile or just go straight to the result's by clicking Next.

Scan Result's

Ahh let's see what kinda icky spyware/adware we have on our system today. Now after clicking Next you will see a list of some stuff you might not know or understand. The first few will be Registry data (if any) you can tell by the Registry data icon. Now, typically when you see that the Vendor is Window's, you're pretty safe (yeah, haha) unless they did some weird trick on ya or something. Now when I ran a scan, nothing popped up except the usual: Two Registry file's for my Window's Media Player and some cookies. Nothing harmless, and whenever you see under Vendor it says Tracking Cookie, then you're safe. If anything look's suspicious however, right click it and click item detail's. If it still is suspicious, quarantine it. When you no longer are worrying about spyware/adware being on your system and all is well, click Next. If you choose not to delete anything, you'll get a popup saying No object's selected for removal, continue? Just click okay unless you wanna check back the result's to go over your finding's again.

Conclusion and Support Link's

In conclusion, Ad-aware is a home user (as well as a network admin's) best friend. It can help you ALOT in your war against spyware/adware. Then again, getting rid of IE does as well but you get my point. Anyway's, if you have any other question's/comment's/concern's, here are some useful link's I've scrapped up to help you on your Ad-aware journey (haha!).

*Download Ad-Aware 6 Here
*Lavasoft Support Forum's
*FAQ about Ad-Aware
*Ad-Aware Plug-In's