The term "malware" is often used as a general term to describe any type of program that is unintentionally installed on a computer for malicious or deceitful purposes. There are many different types of malware, such as a virus, Trojan, or spyware. A system that is infected with malware of any type will often exhibit abnormal behavior, depending on the type of malware. Most types of malware will often cause performance problems along with other abnormal behavior which can have a significant impact on your ability to play an online game.
There are many third party programs available that are very useful for detecting and removing malware. The most prolific of these would be antivirus utilities such as Norton AntiVirus, and McAfee AntiVirus. However, since both of these packages run on subscription models, many users do not keep their subscriptions active, and are thus not covered by antivirus protection.
Below is a list of the most popular commercial antivirus products available for all versions of Windows:
There are also free antivirus utilities available. While they may not provide the comprehensive coverage of most commercial utilities, they are still very useful in detecting and removing malware:
Most antivirus tools will run active checks on all data that is downloaded or installed on your system. They also have options to perform automatic full system scans of your computer on a regular basis. It is recommended that you set the automatic scans for times that you are not using your computer, as these scans can use a large amount of system resources and can cause performance problems.
Another important component of malware removal is a spyware scanner. Spyware is software that is often unknowingly installed on a user's computer through accessing a website that carries the software. It is mainly used for tracking what websites a person visits and then delivering targeted pop-up ads on your system based on the information gathered. Most antivirus programs will detect and remove some types of spyware, but dedicated spyware scanners are usually much more thorough with removing more types of spyware infections. However, not all utilities will be able to remove all types of spyware, so it is usually best to be proactive with avoiding suspicious websites.
Below is a list of common anti-spyware utilities:
Most of the popular spyware removal tools are free, with many having paid versions that are more robust. These programs tend to be structured similarly to antivirus programs and include a general system scanner as well as a background process that provides protection against spyware infections. It is usually best to follow the same guidelines detailed above for configuring the automatic scanner to run during a time when your system is generally not in use.
There are also other anti-malware tools that are more geared towards specific malware threats or towards issues that are not detectable by the anti-malware utilities listed above. These programs are typically more specific in nature and are generally more difficult to use than the previously listed programs. However, they provide the means of eliminating malware infections that are able to avoid the broader antivirus or anti-spyware programs. Several of these tools are listed below:
- Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool (available through Windows Update)
As these tools are generally more difficult to use than the other anti-malware utilities, we suggest finding specific guidance when attempting to use them. If you are not comfortable with performing malware removal maintenance on your system by yourself, then you may need to consult with a professional who is well-versed in removing malware for further assistance.