If you have spyware or other potentially unwanted software on your computer, you should use an antispyware scanner and removal tool to try to remove it. You can also try to remove spyware manually. You might need to use both of these methods more than once to completely remove the spyware or other potentially unwanted software.

Use an antispyware scanner and removal tool

Windows Defender, which ships with this version of Windows, helps prevent spyware and other potentially unwanted software from infecting your computer. When Windows Defender is on, you're alerted if spyware and other potentially unwanted software tries to run or install itself on your computer. You choose if you want to ignore, quarantine, or remove each item that is detected. For more information, see Scan for spyware and other potentially unwanted software.

Spyware scanners are also frequently included in antivirus programs. If you have already installed an antivirus program, check to see if that program includes spyware protection features or if you can add them as an update, and then scan your computer regularly. You can see a list of other spyware protection programs at the MicrosoftSecurity at Home website.

Remove spyware manually

Spyware can sometimes infect areas of your computer that are difficult to clean without causing further problems. If an antispyware program notifies you that it can't remove spyware, follow any directions provided by the program. If that doesn't work, try these options.

  • Check Installed Programs for items that don't belong on your computer.

    Use this method with extreme caution. Control Panel lists many programs, most of which are not spyware. Many spyware programs use special installation methods to avoid showing up in Installed Programs. Occasionally, a spyware program will offer an uninstall option and can be removed with this method. Only remove programs you can positively identify as spyware, and do not remove programs that you might want to keep, even if you don't use them very often. For more information, see Uninstall or change a program.

  • Reinstall Windows.

    Some spyware can hide itself so well that it can't be removed. If you still see evidence of spyware after trying to remove it with an antispyware program or uninstalling it, you might need to reinstall Windows and your programs.

    Warning

    • Reinstalling Windows will remove spyware, but it will also delete your files and programs. If you have to reinstall Windows, make sure that you back up your documents and files, and that you have access to the installation discs you will need to reinstall your programs.