What to do once your PC is infected with spyware, ad-ware or viruses
So you've been running a virus program. Or you haven't. (Check my previous article on keeping your computer at top speed by using Avast). Either way, your PC is now infected by spyware/ad-ware, or even worse, a virus. What DO you do?
The easiest method, is, of course, to format. Should you turn on your PC and the infestation is so bad (and some of them are) you need to format, simply slide a windows xp cd you've either bought or burned into your rom drive, re-boot, and go through windows installation. Don't forget to enter your BIOS/CMOS and change your boot sequence so your cd-rom drive boots before your hard drive.
If you've just got a small problem; your computer still runs fine, then you can just clean up your hard drive with any number of programs. There are many out there, but the ones I suggest would be Spybot: Search and Destroy, Lavasoft ad-aware, and Avast Anti-Virus.
All of these programs are free and can be downloaded off download.com . Likely the most user-friendly program would be Avast or Ad-aware. Spybot is a little more of an advanced program. It is still one of the best, but if you have trouble understanding PC problems, you might have troubles understanding how Spybot works. (You could always read the readmes or their forums, however). Microsoft has also released a new program too, which can be downloaded from download.com as well, or whatever your favorite download portal is.
Anyways, once you have one of these programs, start a scan and attempt to remove the infestation. Most of these programs can also schedule a boot time scan. This means your computer will reboot and scan before you load windows. This can help remove most infestations because most spyware/ad-ware/viruses can manifest themselves in windows so well that they cannot be deleted unless you delete them before windows loads or from safe mode.
A boot-time scan is recommended as the first course of action to remove your infestation. Should you continue to experience slower PC speeds, you could try using a virus scanner to not only scan your hard drive, but prevent your PC from getting more spyware. Usually with spyware, once you have even a few files infected, they spread like a virus and attempt to propogate themselves. It's important you have a virus scanner to not only delete old spyware, but prevent new spyware from popping up. Avast is great for this.
Anyways, good luck and good hunting. Use a format as your last course of action. Besides, it's good for your PC at least once a year to format. This re-aligns your partition tables and eliminates corruption as well as fragmentation.
I am a young, aspiring computer engineer into Internet Marketing, hardware, software, web design, SEO and just about anything related to computers. Please come check out my growing PC forum at http://www.markspcforum.com