Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
In an ideal world, we'd prevent malicious software from ever reaching our machines and thus, we'd never need to remove malware.
Is there any way of keeping Adware from getting ON the computer in the first place? I already have several programs that take it OFF, but that still gives it the opportunity to clog up my connection (which it does!). How can I keep it from getting ON the PC in the first place?
I'm going to expand this from just "Adware" to all forms of malicious software or "malware" because the concepts and principles are the same. Even though many forms of adware (advertising software) are not strictly malicious, they can be annoying, as you're currently experiencing.
The answer depends on the specific malicious software or adware that you're having trouble with, but it typically falls into one of three categories.
A lot of malware - I'll guess perhaps even as much as half these days - is malware that you've explicitly invited onto your computer.
In other words, you may well be doing it to yourself.
Returning to sites that repeatedly install the software with which you're having problems.
Downloading and installing software that includes the malware.
Opening email attachments that turn out to include the malware.
There are probably even more ways that simply boil down to your allowing, or even asking, that the malicious software to be installed on your machine. I know it's not intentional - perhaps it's accidental, or simply not realizing that this might be happening - but it's frighteningly common.
That's why I say that you are the best defense.
The next time that you've cleaned something off of your machine and you expect it to return, take care to watch specifically what you're doing that might end up inadvertently inviting malware onto your own machine.
Many of the tools that we'd consider malware removal tools are actually malware prevention tools as well.
Anti-virus and anti-spyware tools sometimes have options to monitor your computer for incoming malware and stop it in its tracks if they're configured properly.
Firewalls prevent malicious software from entering your machine over the network.
Keeping your machine's software - both OS and applications - up-to-date removes the software vulnerabilities that malicious software often exploits to infect your machine.
Tools like WinPatrol can also alert you to suspicious activity so you can choose to block it should you want to.
The take-away here is to perhaps take an inventory of how you have your machine protected and make sure that it includes all of the basic steps for internet security.
Even with the best of plans and tools, stuff can still happen. It shouldn't be often, and it needn't repeat, but as I've often pointed out, detecting and preventing malware is actually a race. Malware authors are always attempting to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities and devise new ways of avoiding detection. On the other side of the battle, software vendors are patching discovered vulnerabilities and anti-malware tools vendors are devising new techniques to detect all the new ways that malware can be hidden.
In the middle is a window where even a fully protected machine can still remain vulnerable to the latest malicious software.
I'll also remind you that backups are for more than hardware failures - restoring to a full backup taken prior to a malware infection is often the most effective approach to ensure that malware has indeed been completely removed.
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