I hate spyware, viruses, trojans and all malware. It seems like every Windows PC I run into has an infection of some kind, and I often offer to help clean it up because I see the computer as a tool that should "just work" and let you do what you want to do. If you have a computer and it has Windows on it, at some point you have probably noticed your computer or internet connection becoming slow, system settings changing themselves, or pop-up advertising windows popping onto your screen - even when you're not looking at a web page. I did before as well, and in many cases that stuff is caused by computer "parasites", such as spyware, trojans, viruses and worms that sneak onto your system. Not everybody is a computer nerd like me, so it can be really frustrating to deal with stuff like this. I made this page just to let you know that there's a completely free program that can stop it, as well as protect you from a limited number of viruses and worms. it's called Spybot-Search and Destroy, and it's simple enough for a normal person to use, so don't be afraid to give it a try. They didn't pay me to say this - it's just the software I use most when cleaning up computers for friends.
Since the original version of this page was written, the situation has improved a bit. Not because there is less malware out there, but because the average person is better educated about it now. For example, you have probably heard or read that you shouldn't open email attachments from people you don't know, or download free screensavers or greeting cards from sites you are unsure about, and that's good advice. Free Antivirus software has also gotten better - AVG is not that bad, and Avast! Antivirus is good enough that we rely on it at work and at home. The big-name providers are still good options too. I mentioned above that I used to get malware infections, implying that I had found a real solution. I have - I don't use Windows anymore. I am a happy user of Fedora Linux, a completely free operating system with very advanced features. It's not for everyone, as installing and configuring it is still a technically complicated task much of the time, and the OS itself is geared towards the advanced user. But you will hear more and more about Linux in the coming years, as it is gaining in popularity and getting easier to use - actually, the Asus eeePC netbook originally only came preinstalled with it, and you couldn't ask for a much easier to use computer. But whatever operating system you prefer, the best way to keep safe is to keep informed, and be a bit wary of things that seem suspicious.