[Windows] Remove (uninstall) adware, hijackers, toolbars, and more with AdwCleaner

AdwcleanerIn the age of crapware coming bundled with software, it is a smart idea to have a program that helps you remove that crapware. We have previously discussed Toolbar Cleaner and SlimComputer, two programs that help you remove unnecessary toolbars, BHQs, and other crapware that you (probably accidentally) installed. AdwCleaner is another such cleaner. Let’s see if AdwCleaner is worth your time.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

AdwCleaner is a program that searches your computer for adware, toolbars, browser hijackers (hijacking of homepage), and PUPs (potentially unwanted programs). Once it finds some, it allows you the option to delete them from your computer. When you opt to delete something with AdwCleaner, it restarts your computer and, during reboot, removes the files/registry entries associated with the adware/toolbar/hijacker/PUP that you told AdwCleaner to remove. Once your computer is rebooted, AdwCleaner provides you with a log showing you what was removed.

Yes, it works with Ask Toolbar, among other toolbars.

Pros

  • Searches your computer for adware, toolbars, browser hijackers, and PUPs
  • Easy to use
  • Search is completed extremely quickly
  • Works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera

Cons

  • Won’t find *all* adware, toolbars, hijackers, and PUPs
  • This is for users with a relatively strong technical knowledge. Does not provide any guidance as to what you want to or should keep and what you don’t want to or shouldn’t keep. So you need to be able to understand what is found in order to understand if you should remove it or not.

Discussion

Adwcleaner screenshotUsing AdwCleaner is pretty easy. Once you download it, run the executable to run AdwCleaner and it will bring up a simple window that will have the following commands: Search, Delete, Uninstall, and Donate. You use the search button to search your computer for the unwanted junk, the delete button to remove the unwanted junk when found, and the uninstall button to uninstall AdwCleaner from your system.

The program works quickly and searches your computer for four specific things: PUPs, adware, toolbars, and browser homepage hijackers. It works quickly because it scans the specific areas of your computer where these type of crapware are likely to be hidden. This is a great way to get rid of common crapware but crapware hidden in non-common places won’t be found by this program.

When you opt to delete something with AdwCleaner, AdwCleaner restarts your computer and upon reboot removes the files/registry entries associated with the crapware you wanted to remove. Then, after reboot, AdwCleaner shows you a log of all that was removed.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

If you do download a lot of programs (like me), this program does wonders. The types of files this program targets are the ones that come bundled with freeware (and some shareware) programs. If you are one of those people that simply click Next when installing programs, there is a good chance that you have something on your computer that this program will locate.

While I wouldn’t expect AdwCleaner find all hidden adware, toolbars, hijackers, and PUPs that may be on your computer, it does a decent job of finding and removing at least the common ones. Overall, I recommend this program as one to keep in your toolbox for those “oops did I really just accidentally install Ask toolbar” moments.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 2.110

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8

Download size: 568KB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 1/46

Is it portable? Yes

AdwCleaner homepage [download page]

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8 comments

  1. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @Paul D: @JMJ: @dave: Thanks everyone for the feedback. I’ve updated the article to reflect the facts that:

    a) This is indeed portable
    b) The program does not provide any guidance nor does it differentiate between wanted/unwanted toolbars, etc.

  2. Paul D

    What Frank said. There is no way I would press the Delete button given the crappy information provided, combined with the fact that there is no indication of selective deletion. It says I have Babylon Toolbar when in fact I think it has found Spybot signature file entries blocking same.

    Frank, I believe it doesn’t install at all. The downloaded file is the executable. Just delete it. Alternatively, there is an Uninstall button when you run the program, which seems to do the job effectively.

    JT, it doesn’t compare to any other security program at all. Its purpose is different and limited.

    Overall opinion. This program is RUBBISH. It should never have been suggested as a viable security program

  3. JMJ

    @Frank D: With all due respect to Justin, THIS PROGRAM IS PORTABLE, as it does not have to be installed and leaves no files on your disk or traces in the Registry after it is run, except for a log of its findings. (I ran it and checked with FullUninstall and SysTrace.) Therefore, there is nothing to uninstall or “to get rid of”.

    The “hundreds of lines of text” you saw was the log it generates after a scan and you were wise not to go further unless you understand all those entries. If you had chosen “Delete” after the program ran, it would have executed a batch process that used the log it generated as a reference to remove the items you noted in those “hundreds of lines of text”. After I ran it and reviewed my own version of the “hundreds of lines of text”, I noted many safe and wanted entries listed that were, presumably, slated for deletion. This program is *dangerous* in that it *appears* to offer a one-click solution to the problems it is *supposed* to address; however, it gives no guidance as to whether all or some or none of its findings are malicious/malware/etc. Like a “HijackThis” log, this programs findings should be acted upon ONLY AFTER CAREFUL REVIEW BY AN EXPERT OR VERY EXPERIENCED USER.

    My two cents.

  4. Frank D

    Tried it, was confused by the readout of hundreds of lines of text, didn’t know whether to believe it or not, decided to uninstall it. Was totally dumbfounded by the fact that there is no record of its having been installed! Likewise, none of my uninstall apps could see it, and it did not appear in the programs in my Program Files or Program Files(x86) folders. How do I get rid of this program?