I am about to tell you a few easy steps to make sure that your computer will be stable, secure, and run at its full potential. This is step-by-step so that even the most novice computer user can follow along.

Things You Will Need

Your computer and an internet connection.

Step 1

There is a free tool called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware that as of right now i feel is the best and only spyware removal tool you need. This can be downloaded free of charge from C-Net's download.com. Download and install this utility, and at the end of the install be sure to leave the box that says update now checked. This will cause the program to update itself before it is run for the first time. If you are not running this for the first time you can and should manually update it by clicking the update tab in the program and clicking the "update" button. Do this over and over until you it tells you you are on the most current version. Then click the "Scanner" tab and select the button to perform a full scan. Click "scan now" and make sure all of your hard drives are checked. If you are unsure what this means then just leave it as is. Click "scan" and the program will go through your computer and find any malicious software that may be running in the background. The scan can take anywhere from 15-60 minutes to complete. Once it is done a box will appear telling you to click "show results" to view what was found. Click this to show a list of malicious software found in your computer and then click "remove selected" to remove all items found from your computer. A box will most likely appear telling you that your computer needs to be restarted to complete the removal process. Click OK and your computer will restart.

Next we will remove unnecessary programs from your computer. Click the start button in the lower left corner of your screen and select "Control Panel". Depending on your version of windows you will either see "Add/Remove programs", "Uninstall a program", or "Programs and features" Select any one of these and you will be brought to a list of all your installed software. First you should begin by uninstalling any toolbars that are listed such as the yahoo or google toolbars or the aol toolbar. These are the toolbars that appear in the top of internet explorer. I highly recommend removing these as they can cause problems with various websites and even cause internet explorer itself to crash. Do this by highlighting the program you want to remove and selecting uninstall or remove. Be careful when going throught the uninstall process as some programs will leave boxes check or unchecked as to either cancel the uninstall or leave parts of the software installed. Just read before you click and everyhting should be self explanitory. Next you want to uninstall anything that looks like it is from an advertising company such as Shopper Reports or adtrackers or site rankers.

After this your computer should be fairly clean of unwanted software.

Step 2

This can be a fairly long process if it hasn't been done recently, but luckily most of the time is spent loading and doesn't require much user interaction. If java, adobe, or apple updates appear on your screen you should run them as soon as they appear. The same goes for any other software that you trust.

To update windows itself you should click the start button, then click all programs, and select "Windows Update". This will open a website that will take you through the steps of updating windows. You can pretty much click "Next" or "Install or download now" when this appears. When it asks if you want to use Express or Custom update select Express. When the computer is searching for updates it may appear to have stopped responding, but let it sit at that screen and the updates will appear. If an error appears restart your computer and try again. Do this until no more updates are found for your computer.

At this point your computer should be more stable and possibly noticably faster.

Step 3

Many people either have outdated or expired antivirus software on their computer rendering it vulnerable to virus infections. I recommend Norton Antivirus, but whatever software you choose you should make sure to get just the antivirus and not anything extra such as internet security or firewall programs. Windows has all of this built in and the extra software will do nothing but slow down your PC and bring up unnecessary prompts. Make sure you have the most current version of your antivirus software and make sure it is set to automatically update its virus definitions. Most programs will do this itself, and windows will pop up a message telling you your antivirus definitions are out of date if they don't. When your antivirus subscription is up, do not renew it online. Go out and buy the latest version of the program and install that instead. This will make sure that your antivirus software can handle and remove the latest threats.
If all these steps are followed you should never have to bring your computer in for repair to remove viruses or spyware infections. You should have a minimal amount of problems viewing websites and installing/running software that you purchase.

Tips & Warnings

Just remember that if your computer does get any type of infection after this, refer back to step 1 and update and run your Antimalware program.