In Pictures: How to Clean Up a Tough Spyware Infestation

Sometimes, you get hit with something extra nasty and standard antispyware tools can't cut it. Try HijackThis to diagnose your problem and get help.

HijackThis Main Panel

You can download HijackThis at multiple sites (such as our Downloads library). Note that this is a diagnostic tool, not a removal tool, and it will return results about practically everything in your system. The tool's creator, Merijn Bellekom, recently sold the program to Trend Micro, which offers version 2.0 in beta. Make sure you download it to a permanent folder--don't run it from a temp folder. Boot to Windows in Safe Mode, and start the program. Choose the first option: 'Do a system scan and save the log file'.

HijackThis Log File

You'll get a long list of information about what's running and loaded on your system. To most of us, it will look like gibberish. But there are many places on the Web where you can get help deciphering your log file, and step-by-step instructions about how to get rid of any nasty malware lurking in your system.

Try Running an Automated Analysis

If you feel comfortable rooting around in the guts of your registry and are already familiar with many of the processes necessary to run your PC, you may want to try an automated analysis tool first, such as the one at Just paste the contents of your HijackThis log into the space provided, and click the Analyze button.

Automated Analysis Report

You'll get a report similar to the one above, with different items rated at different levels of safety. There will be some ambiguous items, however, and that's where you'll need to rely on your own knowledge, or seek further help.

Go to a Forum for Special Help

At, you'll find a list forums where you can post your HijackThis log file to get personal help with your infestation.

Find the Appropriate Forum Section

Go to your chosen forum (we picked the Spybot Search & Destroy Safer Networking forum), and go to the appropriate section (in this case, the one called Malware Removal).

Start a New Forum Thread

You'll want to post your log as a new thread in the forum.

Post Your HijackThis Log

Make sure you post your full HijackThis log to the forum; they'll need the complete details to help. It may also be helpful to state what you've already tried to do to clean your system, and how far that got you.

Get an Expert's Tailored Advice

An expert who has been vetted by forum administrators will give you step-by-step instructions about what to do next, and follow up to make sure the problem is solved.

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