Detailed do it yourself computer cleaning

Please note that the information and advice given in this document is intended to assist
users in detecting and removing unwanted software from their personal computer, however
any changes you make to your system is done so at your own risk.

Remove Temporary Internet Files and Delete System Restore.
To remove temporary Internet files:
In Internet Explorer, Click Tools --> Internet Options.
Click Delete Files, and check the Delete all offline content Checkbox, then click OK.
Click Delete Cookies... Click OK.
To delete system restore (only Windows XP and ME have this):
Right click on MyComputer (you can access it by clicking Start, or the icon may be on the desktop).
Click Properties
Click the System Restore tab.
Check the box that says "Turn off system restore.." and click yes to the following message (you can turn it back on when your computer is clean).

Eliminate Unnecessary Start-up Programs.
Click Start --> Run.
In the Open: text box type msconfig and click OK.
Click the Startup tab.
You can eliminate all or nearly all of the items by un-checking them, particularly those that do not appear necessary. If you aren't sure what the program is used for you can look it up in Google, or you can try or the startup list at Leave any programs that are associated with an anti-virus program checked. Even though the unchecked program is not starting up with Windows, you can still access it by clicking on the program's icon, or from the start menu.
Click OK and your computer will want to restart without those programs starting up.
After your computer restarts you will see a system configuration utility box that tells you your startup has been altered. Just check the box that says "Don't show this message..." and click OK.

Install Spyware Removal Programs.
Install several spyware removal programs, since it usually takes more than one to get rid of everything. The three main ones we currently use are Spyware Doctor, Ad-aware, and Spybot Search and Destroy in that order. You can download them from You can also substitute Spyware Doctor with a program like AD-AWARE, or Microsofts spyware removal tool. If possible update these programs immediately.

Boot Into Safe Mode
Restart or Turn on the computer
Some computers have a progress bar that refers to the word BIOS, or have a "Dell" or "Gateway" logo. Others may not let you know what is happening.
As soon as the BIOS loads, begin tapping the F8 key on your keyboard. Do so until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears.

Note:If you begin tapping the F8 key too soon, some computers display a "keyboard error" message. If this happens, restart the computer and try again. If you see Windows begin to load, you did not tap the F8 key soon enough. Restart the computer and try again. Sometimes it will take several attempts to get to this Menu - just keep trying!

Using the arrow keys on the keyboard, select Safe mode and then press Enter

Remove Viruses.
While in Safe Mode you can run Stinger to check for certain virus infections. Note that not all antivirus programs will run in safe mode. After running Stinger download and install the Avast! anti-virus program from our Utilities page. It's free, can be installed in safe mode, and will run a scan before windows starts up.

Run Spyware Removal Programs in Safe Mode.
From experience we've noticed that running these programs in safe mode yield the best results. You can choose to run whatever spyware programs you wish.
We run Spyware Doctor (or Spy Sweeper)
then Ad-aware
finally we run Spybot Search and Destroy. We also use a program called CWShredder, and one called Hijack This (which we only recommend for experienced users).

Reboot into Safe Mode with Networking, and Update Programs.
Running these programs in safe mode should have gotten rid of the majority of spyware on your computer. Now it's best to reboot your computer into safe mode with networking, and if you haven't already done so ,connect to the Internet to download the updates for each of the spyware removal programs. Once updated, disconnect your computer from the Internet and run these programs again to clean your computer of any of the newer spyware that the outdated programs didn't find. Sometimes you might need to be in safe mode to run them effectively, other times it's ok in normal windows depending on the severity of the spyware problem.

Finally once the spyware is removed you can re-enable programs that you want to start up with msconfig, and you can turn on your system restore by unchecking the box that you checked previously.