If you see an unusual number of ads while browsing the Web in Google Chrome, your computer may have adware. Similar to a computer virus, adware infects your computer, but whereas viruses cause damage to your system, adware causes banner ads and pop-up ads to appear all over your screen or your browser window. To stop and get rid of adware on your computer, you need to clean up the programs you have installed and avoid installing software that comes with adware.
To begin removing adware, look through the list of installed programs on your computer. Press “Windows-W,” type “programs” without quotes and click “Programs and Features” in the search results. To remove any installed program, click it and press “Uninstall.” You can often identify adware through terms such as “toolbar,” or “savings.” If you know the specific name of the adware on your computer, you can try to locate and uninstall it directly. If you aren’t sure what an item is, do not remove it, to avoid accidentally removing an important system program.
In addition to programs, adware can run through extensions within Google Chrome. Open Chrome and click the menu icon in the upper-right corner. Open the “Extensions” tab and click the garbage can icon next to any extensions that sound like adware or any that you do not need. Press “Remove” to confirm. Chrome does not require any extensions to run, so you can safely remove any items you don’t recognize.
After manually removing obvious signs of adware, you should run a malware scan to find and clean any remaining traces of malicious software. This will also remove any adware extensions which you could not delete directly in Chrome. If you have an Internet security program, such as Norton Internet Security or Avast Internet Security, you can run its full scan to locate adware. Otherwise, download, install and run a reputable anti-malware scanner, such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware or Spybot Search & Destroy. If you still see adware after using one anti-malware scanner, you can install another which may locate the remaining traces.
After cleaning your system, you need to avoid reinfecting your computer. Adware most often installs itself alongside benign programs you download from the Internet. Carefully read the text during installation of any program you download to see if it comes bundled with adware. Even some well-known, legitimate programs include optional adware and toolbars, unless you specifically uncheck a box during installation. Before installing or running any program you find online, look for reviews or ratings to make sure it’s safe.
Information in this article applies to Windows 8. It may vary slightly or significantly on other versions or operating systems.