Here’s an article about a tech-savvy journalist who decided to see what happened if he allowed some adware onto his system. He clicked OK on a few dialog boxes that popped up while he was surfing – the same ones you see all the time.

During the next few weeks, his computer spiraled out of control. It started with a blizzard of popup windows and moved on to uninvited toolbars in Internet Explorer. Cartoons started playing at odd moments during his Internet browsing and his Internet Favorites suddenly listed a collection of porn and gambling sites.

And at some point his comuter began blasting viruses at his company network. He wound up having to reformat his hard drive.

It continues to be important: If you’re online and any window appears on your screen asking you to do something, you must always say no.

The author of the article is a smart guy with a lot of experience dealing with adware and spyware. He wound up stumped by some of the crud that infested his system – some of it kept coming back when the computer was restarted, even after what appeared to be a thorough cleaning.

I had the same experience yesterday. A desktop icon and a program starting up automatically – and I couldn’t delete them without finding them right back in place the next time the system was restarted. Nothing stopped it – searching the registry and initialization files, deleting folders in safe mode, running several removal tools – none of my tricks worked.

Become familiar with AdAware, the best-known tool to help you clean your system. It’s safe and easy to use. But your best bet is to control your clicking finger and don’t let adware and spyware get on in the first place!

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