How to Remove Pop-Ups & Spyware

By Paul Higgins

Learn how to remove pop-up generators, keyloggers, hijackers or other types of spyware from your computer.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows computer
  • Internet Explorer
  • Antispyware program

Spyware can assume many forms, from bothersome but innocuous pop-up generators to viruses that record your keystrokes and send them over the Internet to the creator of the malware. Remove spyware from your computer by scanning your hard drives with Windows Defender or with a free, reputable anti-virus program.


  • If you suspect that an attacker was able to gain access to your personal files or devices — for example, your webcam or external hard drives — immediately disconnect your computer from the Internet and keep it offline until you have successfully removed the virus.

  • Each of the three major Windows browsers — Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox — comes with an integrated pop-up blocker. While this blocker may not eliminate pop-ups generated by spyware, it can prevent regular Web pages from launching pop-up windows.

Run a System Scan With Windows Defender

Windows Defender is an anti-malware tool which is included in the latest versions of Windows. Run a full system scan with the tool to remove spyware from your computer.


In a benchmark conducted in February, 2015 by German IT security company AV-TEST, Windows Defender ranked last among all tested paid and free anti-virus programs in its malware detection and removal. While Windows Defender is conveniently pre-installed on your computer and is a first line of defense against malware, you may have to download and install a third-party anti-virus program to completely get rid of the virus that infected your machine.

Step 1

Open the Windows Start Screen or Start Menu, enter Defender in the search field and select Windows Defender from the search results to launch the program.

Step 2

Perform a full-system scan by selecting Full under Scan Options and clicking the Scan Now button to start the scan.


Before launching a scan, open the Update tab and click the Update button to download the latest virus definition files.

Run a System Scan With a Third-Party Anti-Virus Program

Download and install a free, reputable anti-malware application such as:


  • If a virus on your machine prevents you from visiting the websites of anti-virus software developers, use another computer to download the installation file and transfer it to the infected PC using a USB drive.

  • Update the anti-virus program's definition files before running a scan to ensure the program is able to detect the latest threats.

Launch the anti-virus application and run a full-system scan.


Continue scanning your computer at frequent intervals — even after successfully removing the current threat — to prevent new infections.