How to Remove Adware from PCs and Mobile Devices [Tips & Techniques]

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Do annoying pop-ups bother you? Has your default browser switched overnight to something totally random? Has your default browser switched overnight to something random? This article explains what adware is, how dangerous it can be, how to spot it, and how to remove adware.

What Is Adware?

Adware (or advertising-supported software) is a type of software that automatically generates adverts on your computer, laptop, or phone. It’s usually spotted via ads in the form of pop-ups, but it can also change your usual browser’s homepage and add spyware.

Adware is considered to be a drive-by download attack. It’s ultimately, however, a type of malware, and therefore can potentially infect your computer with Trojan horses, worms, or spyware. Spyware is a type of malware that spies on your online activity and collects personal data, such as passwords and browsing history.

Although adware, malware, and spyware are interconnected but doesn’t always entail that they can all be the causes for one another.

Adware typically downloads itself via freeware or shareware. But, unfortunately, it can also be unintentionally downloaded when you visit malicious websites. But it’s good to know that you can easily remove adware from Chrome or any other browser in just a few steps.

NOTE: It’s not illegal to download free software that might contain ads. Adware becomes illegal once a third-party program downloads malicious adware software on your computer or mobile device without permission.

Is Adware Dangerous?

Some people Google: ‘ads randomly pop up on phone’ to understand if adware causes damage to their phone or PC. There are a few red flags you need to watch for, but you can immediately spot harmless adware when it:

  • Asks for your permission to download.
  • Can be removed via Add/Remove Programs on your PC.
  • Doesn’t collect your personal data.
  • Doesn’t interfere with your PC/mobile device’s performance.

Some forms of adware are harmful to your device’s overall performance. Malicious adware is characterized by:

  • Downloading secretly without your consent.
  • Being difficult to uninstall.
  • Changing your default browser.
  • Collecting personal data to give to third-party websites.
  • Drastically slowing down your device.
NOTE: Although Mac computers have integrated anti-adware protection, they can still be infected by adware. Macs are prone to malware much like Windows. How to remove Ads on Mac is a constant concern, but there are many ways to get rid of them.

Detecting Adware

What is adware? Adware might first be tricky to uncover, depending on how it functions, but a handful of specific telltale signs can help you spot it, which include:

Pop-up Ads

Although some pop-ups are a regular occurrence while browsing the internet, a significant influx of them might appear if your device has adware, especially with adult content.

Ads Unexpectedly Appear

Is your phone playing ads by itself? Ads usually appear while using your default browser and visiting different websites. But with adware, ads are no longer dependent on an internet connection to show up.

Slow Boot

One of the most prominent signs of having adware is long delays for apps, programs, or internet connections to start or load. The slower your device, the better chance your device has adware.

Misleading Links

Another sign of adware is its ability to redirect you to unknown websites to more advertisements and dangerous malware. Therefore, it’s essential to get rid of adware on Android or any other operating system.

Different Search Engine

Switching search engines is typical in adware infections. But this type of adware hijacking is easy to recover from—you simply need to manually switch back to your usual search engine.

Different Toolbars

Added toolbars or new icons on your device is the business of malware programs, which are known as potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that can harm and possibly steal data—which is why removing adware from Windows 7 and up is crucial.

Different Homepage

Adware can also redirect you to a completely different homepage, which usually happens when you visit a bad website that redirects you to a different webpage where your device can download even more malware. There are many ways on how to remove redirect viruses, most of which involve malware removal tools.

NOTE: According to Dr.Web’s virus activity review in April 2021, one of the top threats out of all the types of malware was adware, two of which were the most frequently used: Adware.Softobase.15, which spreads outdated software and changes browser settings, and Adware.SweetLabs.4, an alternative app store and add-on for Windows GUI.

Key Takeaways

Advertising-supported software (adware) is a type of software that automatically generates adverts on internet-connected devices, but it’s simple to remove adware.
Adware typically downloads itself when you download a program, doing so without you noticing.
Although some adware causes simple annoyance, some forms can seriously harm your devices.
Harmful adware can steal your data, slow down your device, and be difficult to uninstall.
The most prominent signs of adware include pop-up ads, slow computer boot time, the changing of a different search engine, and added toolbars.

How to Remove Adware

Adware is easy to dismantle and control in comparison to other types of malware. Consider these four points when you suspect your device has a problem:

Pay Attention

Websites are brimming with what can potentially end up being a drive-by download. So always watch out for fake websites, pop-up warnings, and suspicious emails. Otherwise, you’ll need to get rid of adware on Mac and Windows OS as quickly as possible.

Keep Operational System Up-to-date

According to many hacking statistics, hackers use your vulnerable software as a means to get in and infect your device, which is why it’s advisable to keep your OS up-to-date.

Watch Out for Banners

One of the easiest ways to infect your device with adware is by unintentionally clicking on a banner or a bad website. Banners are filled with adware and can cause unsuspecting damage.

Download Adware Removal Tool

The easiest way on how to get rid of adware on phone devices and PCs is to download an adware removal tool, which goes through your OS and removes anything that might look like a product of adware or even the adware source itself. But some of these tools can potentially remove programs that are not adware.

Removing Adware from PC Devices

Adware typically attaches itself to PC devices and laptops, despite the OS of the device. Windows, Mac PCs, and laptops have their differences. Removing adware from PC devices without using an adware removal tool isn’t as complicated as you think, but it does take a bit of time.

Mac Devices

If your Mac device is infected with adware, the simplest way to quickly get rid of it is through macOS’s built-in adware removal tool. For this, you need to update your OS to the latest version. Then, if you already have the latest updates, restart your device, and your malware will be removed.

If you still see unwanted ads or other signs of adware, check your Applications folder and manually uninstall the programs you might suspect are affected. The same thing applies to browser extensions on your Safari. This Is the easiest way to get rid of adware on Mac.

Windows Devices

Windows PCs do not come with adware removal tools installed in the OS—you need to install it yourself. But some of the best adware removal tools are free, such as Malwarebytes, MalwareFox, and AdwCleaner.

Consider these steps on how to get rid of adware on a Windows OS:

  1. Make sure to backup your essential programs and files on an external hard drive.
  2. Check if the program causing the adware has an uninstaller in the Windows Control Panel Add/Remove Programs section. If it does, select it and remove it.
  3. Reboot your PC.
  4. After restarting your PC, run your removal tool, which will scan and quarantine the adware for you to delete.

How to Remove Adware from Phone

How to get rid of adware on phone devices is a constant concern for users.

Android Phones

  1. Reboot your phone and put it in safe mode, which is like a temporary factory reset.
  2. Go to the Apps section in your settings.
  3. Uninstall all suspicious apps and restart after each uninstallation.
  4. Turn on Play Protect in the Google Play Store—a malware protection option that prevents you from downloading sketchy apps by accident.

iPhones have a similar manual method to remove adware as on Android phones.

iPhones

  1. Reboot your iPhone into safe mode to block third-party apps from running in the background while removing the adware.
  2. Remove the necessary apps from your device.
  3. Restart your phone.

How to get rid of ads is also a concern for Apple, as their OS offers additional preventative settings, so you don’t get adware from annoying pop-ups. Additionally, Apple encourages you to always have the latest updates on your OS by turning on the Block Pop-ups and Fraudulent Website Warning in Safari’s security settings.

NOTE: Many mistakenly assume that VPNs help with adware. VPNs do not offer such protection but offer other cybersecurity types, such as protection against theft of personal information and the masking of IP location. If you have internet privacy concerns, consider purchasing one of the highest-quality VPN services.

Conclusion

Advertising-supported software (adware) is a type of software that automatically generates adverts on your computer, laptop, or phone. You can quickly tell if you’re a victim of adware hijacking if your device has many pop-ups, a slower load time, or your system has changed to a different search engine.

If you wish to remove adware from Chrome (or any other part of your device), you can use adware removal tools or remove it manually from your device’s settings.

FAQ

Is adware a virus?

Adware is not a virus but can still cause harm to your device. Advertising-supported software (adware) is a type of software that automatically generates adverts on your internet-connected devices.

Why are ads popping up on my phone?

One of the most common reasons for ads popping up on your device is adware, which is common but can be easily removed.

How do I get rid of adware on my android phone?

If you’re wondering how to remove adware, it’s quite simple to do. You first need to reboot your phone in safe mode. Then scroll through the Apps section in your Settings and spot the app that infected your phone with adware. Next, uninstall the app and reboot your phone. Lastly, make sure you have Play Protect turned on in your Google Play Store so adware doesn’t get into your device again.

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