We put this guide together so we could share our expertise and show the process we use at our office, including links to the programs we use that will help you do a basic clean up. This guide will show you how to clean up many of the common types of unwanted computer programs that cause issues such as slow downs and pop-ups.
Below the video are the links and instructions to the tools we use to clean systems. They are listed in the order by which we usually run them (ie. cleaning temporary files with CCleaner can make other scans a bit faster). Watch the video guide to see how to use these tools.
Special thanks to Lawrence Technology Services for the excellent video.
1. Manual Uninstall
Our first step is always to manually uninstall any “junk” software. This software usually includes toolbars, PC tune-up software, driver updaters, malicious internet browsers, etc. If you aren’t sure what a program is, feel free to google it and see if other people have asked about it. If you are unsure, it may be safer to leave it. If it is malicious, the other tools in this guide should remove it.
There are two easy ways to get to the list of installed programs:
- In most versions of Windows you can open the Start Menu and type “appwiz.cpl” in the search to bring up the Control Panel “Programs and Features” window.
- Alternatively, in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you can right-click on the start menu and click on “Programs and Features” or “Apps and Features.” Which option you see depends on your version of Windows. “Apps and Features” will bring up the “modern” style app manager in Windows Settings.
Note: CCleaner from step 2 also has an “Uninstall” feature in the “Tools” tab that functions the same as the Windows “Programs and Features” window allowing you to manually uninstall programs during that step.
After an uninstall we usually move on to CCleaner. While CCleaner is not a virus removal tool, it does help remove a lot of temporary files (which can speed up some of our other scans) and can help reset browsers. CCleaner can also be used to turn off start-up applications.
There are a couple of important things to check/do in CCleaner:
- In the “Cleaner” tab: under the “System” section under the “Windows” tab, make sure “DNS Cache” is checked.
- If you are on Windows 10, also make sure “Session” under “Microsoft Edge” is checked.
- You can now click “Run Cleaner."
TDSSKiller by Kaspersky is a rootkit detection and removal tool. It is useful for finding malicious services and processes that have tried to worm their way into Windows. When you get to the main screen that has the “Start Scan” button, it is useful to click on “change parameters” and check “Verify file digital signatures” as well as “Detect TDLFS file system.”
TDSSKiller can show you false positives. Some “unsigned services” may be legitimate services on your computer. If you do not know what it is, it may be best to leave it.
If TDSSKiller does detect something that requires cleaning, it may also require a reboot.
4. ADW Cleaner
ADW Cleaner by Malwarebytes is a great utility to find and remove unwanted adware, junkware, toolbars, and browser extensions from your computer. Using ADW Cleaner is simple, click “Scan.” When the scan is finished a .txt file will be displayed with the results of the scan. After that, the scan button will turn into a “Clean” button. Click clean and let ADW Cleaner do its job.
ADW Cleaner will probably want to restart your computer if it finds anything.
Malwarebytes is a fantastic anti-malware application that can find and remove some very obscure and hard to detect threats. When you first install Malwarebytes, it will activate a 14-day free trial that includes real-time protection and increased vulnerability detection. You can opt out of this trial if you only want to use Malwarebytes for scanning. Scanning with Malwarebytes is easy, there is literally an arrow pointing to the “Scan Now” button. When you click “Scan Now” Malwarebytes will do any updates and will scan your system. After the scan, make sure all of detected threats are checked and click “Quarantine Selected.”
Your computer may need to reboot.
After the scan, you can uninstall Malwarebytes if you don’t want to deal with the 14-day trial prompts, or you can go into “Settings” > “My Account” and click “Deactivate Premium Trial.” You can then right-click on the tray icon for Malwarebytes and uncheck “Start With Windows.”