used with permission from Microsoft Safety & Security Center
If your computer starts to behave strangely, you might be experiencing spyware symptoms or have other unwanted software installed on your computer. Here are a few tips on how to detect malicious software:
- I see pop-up advertisements all the time. Some unwanted software will bombard you with pop-up ads that aren’t related to a particular website you’re visiting. These ads are often for adult or other websites you may find objectionable. If you see pop-up ads as soon as you turn on your computer or when you’re not even browsing the web, you might have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer.
- My settings have changed and I can’t change them back to the way they were. Some unwanted software can change your home page or search page settings. Even if you adjust these settings, you might find that they revert back every time you restart your computer.
- My web browser contains additional components that I don’t remember downloading. Spyware and other unwanted software can add toolbars to your web browser that you don’t want or need. Even if you remove these toolbars, they might return each time you restart your computer.
- My computer seems sluggish. Spyware and other unwanted software are not designed to be efficient. The resources these programs use to track your activities and deliver advertisements can slow down your computer and errors in the software can make your computer crash. If you notice a sudden increase in the number of times a certain program crashes, or if your computer is slower than normal at performing routine tasks, you may have spyware or other unwanted software on your machine.
If you think your computer is infected with malicious or unwanted software, see How to remove and avoid viruses, spyware, and other malicious software or ask a professional for more advanced help.