Hacking the Registry to Get Rid of Spyware
There are many applications designed to combat the growing threat presented by Spyware, but they do not always work correctly or well enough. More stringent actions are sometimes necessary to help rid yourself of any infection than just running a scan from one of these applications. If you are not able to clean a spyware infection with your detector, then the next step is to try a restore operation. You can attempt to restore your computer to the state it was before the computer became infected. You can do this by Selecting the restore option from the Start Menu > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore. From this location you can select to restore your computer to an earlier time before it became infected. This is a fairly safe process and you should not lose any of your data, but this option is not always available.
The system restore option usually takes a system snapshot any time you install new software or during a predetermined schedule, but sometimes this does not happen. System Restore sometimes gets turned off either through configuration changes or through other software installation. If that is the case on your computer, you pretty much only have a couple of choices to rid yourself of the infection. You can backup your data and perform a clean install. This means you reformat your hard drive and reinstall all your applications. This is not a pleasant experience and could require hours of your time depending on the type and number of applications you have installed.
The second option is to hack your registry. The registry is a database used to configure users, applications and hardware and hacking just means editing it. However, hacking the registry should not be taken lightly and if done improperly you could still wind up doing a clean install as mentioned earlier. If you are going to hack the registry and try to effectively clean a spyware infection from your machine, you will need to have some information about the Spyware application you are attempting to remove. Always make a backup and have a current windows boot disk before touching your registry. You may need it if you touch the registry and make a mistake. When touching the registry always have a backup plan. You open the registry by going to Start > Run > and typing in regedit. The registry in Windows XP is quite large and if you go through every key then you will be there longer than if you had re-installed. You can search by pressing F3 and typing in the name of the string that you are searching for. When you find an occurrence then you can just delete that key, but be careful because if you delete the wrong key you can render the Operating System worthless.
If done properly you can effectively kill those spyware instances that just won’t seem to go away, but you should only resort to this step if you have no other choice. The safest solution to eradicate spyware is to utilize one of the many tools out there such as CounterSpy (try it Free!) Windows Defender, Adaware, or one of the many others you can find by searching on the internet. There are also some commercial applications produced by well known virus companies such as McAfee (save $15 on AntiSpyware software) or Norton that will help clean an infected system and help protect you from future infections. In this day of rampant Spyware infections you should not go online until you have one of these protection applications installed as protection, because prevention is better than the cure, especially in the case of having to hack the registry.
My favorites are SpyBot, which is free and CounterSpy (try it Free!). THe combination takes care of just about everything I've run across.