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Ad Aware Tutorial

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 »  Home  »  Spyware and Adware  »  Ad Aware Tutorial
Ad Aware Tutorial
By  Super Admin  | Published  03/28/2005 | Spyware and Adware | Rating:
Ad Aware Tutorial

Step 1 – Download and install Ad Aware
First download the free Ad Aware SE Personal from here:
Install A-A after closing as many running programs as possible.

Step 2a – Updating Ad Aware to the current reference file
You will need to run the Web-update Feature before each scan to make sure you have the current reference file installed. It is imperative that you always have the current Build and Reference File in use to ensure the proper detection and removal of objects.
On the start screen:
Click on the "Check for updates now" hotlink. (The globe at the upper right also opens the web-update feature)
Click "Connect".
If you see that a new reference file is available, click "OK", and it will download and install automatically.
Click "Finish".

Step 2b – Manually updating the reference file
If you need to update your reference file manually, you can download the file from:
Unzip the folder, and place the file inside your Ad-Aware SE folder.
Then choose "OK" when asked to over-write it.
If you would like a backup of the previous reference file, simply re-name it "Reflist.ref.old" before moving the new one in.

Step 3 – The first scan

NOTE: Ad-Aware SE has four scanning options: SmartScan, Full System Scan, Custom and ADS Scan. As explained more fully below, SmartScan is faster, but also less comprehensive. While SmartScan is satisfactory for routine use, it is HIGHLY recommended that your FIRST scan with A-A be a Full System Scan. After a thorough cleaning, use the capabilities within SmartScan for everyday use. Think of SmartScan as your regular oil change, whereas the Full System Scan is the 30,000 mile checkup.

From the start screen, click on the "Start" button.
On the next screen, select "Full System Scan". (You would change this to SmartScan in the future) and click on the green checkmark near “Search for negligible risk entries” so that it becomes a red “X”:

Click on "Next" to begin the A-A scan.

---------- Note: Important decision -----------
If you are unsure about what to remove, you can rightclick on each item to see some information about that line. Then you can decide to remove it by A-A (strongly recommended). If you really haven't got any idea what to delete, you can post your Ad Aware logfile for someone to evaluate and assist you in the removal.

Note: At this moment there are no people here who are prepared to analyze your Ad-aware Logfile. I strongly suggest you to go to the Lavasoft Support forums, and post your logfile there:

Posting your Logfile
When the scan is complete, click "Show Log", then hi-lite all of the text in the logfile with your mouse. On your keyboard, press Ctrl + C, which will copy the text to your clipboard. Right click "Paste" in your thread.

Or, you can navigate to your Ad-aware SE folder in Windows Explorer: C:\Program Files\Lavasoft\Ad-Aware SE\Logs
Open this folder and find the correct logfile. The logfiles will be named "Ad-Aware-log ##-##-##.txt (the #'s will be the date of the scan, shown in the European format). Right click, choose "Select all", then right click and choose "Copy". Right click and select "Paste" in your thread.

Step 4 – Quarantine and Removal of Detected Objects
Ad-Aware includes a Quarantine feature, which can back up detected objects before they are removed. This can prove useful in the event a program doesn't work after certain detected objects are removed ... you can restore the detected objects, much like an anti-virus quarantine. The program is pre-configured to automatically quarantine the selected objects before removal, so you do not need to click on the 'Quarantine' button. Make a Quarantine only if you do not have the Auto-Quarantine option ON.

From the "Scan complete" window ...
Click on "Next".
This will take you to the "Results" window ... this is where you will need to mark the objects that you wish to remove. There are many options available with a right-click.
It is recommended (as stated above) to remove all of the objects unless you wish to ignore some (see below for instructions on the ignore list).
To remove everything, right click in the Results List and click "Select all objects".
DO NOT click the 'Quarantine' button, this is automatically done as
explained above.
Click "Next" to remove the chosen objects.
Click "OK".
The Quarantine will be made and the objects will then be removed.

Please Note: After removing a Browser Hijacker, Ad-aware SE will set your Start Page to "Blank", so you may need to set the Start and Search pages in your Browser manually back to your preferred one. The reason for this is that the hijack has changed the page, and since Ad-aware SE does not know what it was set to before the hijack, it resets it to a blank page. If you do not see any differences, then disregard this note.

Ignore List
Always do the Ignore List items first, before removing anything.
If you wish to ignore some of the detected objects:
From the same "Results" window that lists the detected items, select any items from the list that you want to "Ignore".
Right click in the scan results window and select "Add selection to
Click "OK".
Then continue with the removal process.

Subsequent Scanning with Ad-Aware SE
While a full sytem scan is recommended for your first "cleaning", you can run the SmartScan after that. SmartScan is a set of preset scanning options.
Ad-Aware comes with pre-defined settings that most users will find sufficient for their scanning needs. (Of course, should a user require (or want) more or less than defined here, they can always perform a full system scan)

How to run a Smartscan
From the start screen, click on the "Scan now" button.
On the next screen, select "Perform smart system-scan".
Click on "Next" to begin the A-A scan.
Follow the same quarantine and removal instructions as above. The SmartScan option is obviously faster than the full custom scan.

If you used any other Anti-Trackware application to remove detected content immediately prior to running a scan with Ad-aware SE, you will need to perform a Full System scan to ensure that the objects have all been successfully removed. Do not use the SmartScan option in this case. Also, it is recommended that you re-boot your computer between running the applications.

Spybot detection by Ad-Aware:
The reason that Ad-Aware SE will detect SpyBot's backups is that the backups are simply relocated into a password protected zipped archive by design. A-A will detect any and all known objects that are in it's database if they are in your system ... even if they are archived (this includes System Restore, etc.). A-A is not targeting SB's archives, it is finding the objects that are contained in them. This is what the program is designed to do, find all instances of the objects in it's database no matter where they are located. This is not anything to worry about. You can add them to your A-A Ignore List, or use selective scanning to not scan SpyBot's backup folder.

Submissions of new files for evaluation
There will be occasions when newly created or updated objects come out and can cause problems before they have been included in new Ad-Aware reference files. These objects of course will not be detected and need to be submitted for evaluation. In those cases it is appreciated if you the user would contribute to the fight against this kind of activity by submitting those newly found files. There is a File Submission Tool (complete with instructions) to upload these files with a brief description here:

More About Ad-Awares capabilities.
The user also has the choice to ignore the objects they choose to keep (as some programs will not run without them). It might be sensible to look into alternative programs that are "clean" and will perform the same function, then eliminate everything found in the scan, as those objects could quite possibly be causing the problems you are experiencing. The program will detect Data-Mining and TrackWare objects, Malicious Cookies, BHO's and Dialers, as well as other offending objects that are out there.

As always, the objects that are listed in the A-A logfile are optional to keep (ignore), or remove. It is up to the individual user to make the decision of what is loaded and running on their computers.

Useful Links:
Lavasoft KnowledgeBase:
Lavasoft FAQ's:
Detailed Removal Instructions:

Source: Spyware Aid

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  • Comment #1 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Made as easy as possible
  • Comment #2 (Posted by Tim)
    Comments were simple enough, but I can't get Ad-Aware to complete the scan in any selection. It freezes up or stops on "Conditional scan" and never seems to be able to finish, so that I can clean the system of the 83 critical objects found. The comments refer to "a lot of time" for the procedure, but I've waited seven or more hours with no visible change. Is this normal?
  • Comment #3 (Posted by an unknown user)
    gives a good description of the workings of aa. but as with most tutorials it repeats a lot which is common sense within the app itself. i was hoping to find out why when aa was searching through files, some would appear in green text.
  • Comment #4 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Very imformal and easy to use.
  • Comment #5 (Posted by an unknown user)
    I need alittle bit more info. on deleting stuff out of the quarantine option? example: If I delete files from Quarantine, does this mean Ad-Aware-the program will no longer be able to find simalar files like it agaian, or am I just remove the file from a quarantine-Logger, like removing a sentence from a letter.
  • Comment #6 (Posted by an unknown user)
  • Comment #7 (Posted by an unknown user)
    very complete & easy to understand
  • Comment #8 (Posted by an unknown user)
  • Comment #9 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Did not explain the difference between Remove All compared to Quarantine. Otherwise it is a great article.
  • Comment #10 (Posted by an unknown user)
    it was very useful and told me exactly what i needed to know
  • Comment #11 (Posted by an unknown user)
    I found this article to be informable. I have not tried it out yet though. Thats the next step, seems easy enough though.
  • Comment #12 (Posted by an unknown user)
    agree with comment five
  • Comment #13 (Posted by an unknown user)
    please send me how to remove detected files that are malicious. t will not let me remove the detected files.
  • Comment #14 (Posted by an unknown user)
    I also agree with #5. My "help" option on the program for some reason isn't working correctly. I don't know what do do with those items in quarantine. Do I just leave them?
  • Comment #15 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Very well explaned.Congratulations. I'm using SpyBot S&D with Spyware Blaster and I,m glad with this couple of aplications.
  • Comment #16 (Posted by uuu)
    It's a very bad software...Don't install it..After installing this software u r computer can't run properly nd starting crashes...
  • Comment #17 (Posted by kimsland)
    You can safely delete any found malwares from the quarantine folder It does not matter either way (if you leave them there or remove them) I don't actually recommend this poor product though Yes the above write-up is good and all, but the program isn't. A much more effective program is Free Malwarebytes ( You only need to run a Quick updated malware removal scan Then remove all found malwares at the end of the scan. Ad-aware is just not effective any longer (well it hasn't been for some time)
  • Comment #18 (Posted by an unknown user)
  • Comment #19 (Posted by Dragonizi)
    I installed it, no problem, it caught some stuff, no problem, however, it "vaulted" stuff that WASN'T virus', I know because I wrote them I can't get in to reverse what it did...I WILL NEVER, EVER touch ad-aware again...AVG may not be perfect but at least it allows you to reverse what the program put in the "virus vault"...I just downloaded the free to see if it works then I was going to buy the actual one, not a chance now...if I can't reverse it, it set me back many sucks
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