The Benefits of a Spyware Scanner
If your computer has ever started acting crazy - changing your browser's home page, dialing expensive phone numbers, creating pop-up's even when your pop-up blocker is on, high jacking your web browser by directing it to unrequested sites and slowing down without any reason - you have had some experience with spyware. You may have done something that you shouldn't. You could have downloaded plug-ins or shareware from obviously suspicious web sites.
You could have knowingly downloaded free software that included adware as the price you pay. You could have lowered your browser's security settings to allow a one-time download and forgotten to restore them. Or you could have just innocently clicked on a pop-up to make it go away. All of these actions are ways that spyware is invited in to your computer.
Keep It Clean
Even at its most innocent, spyware is a program that is on your computer at the bidding of an unknown company doing an unspecified job for the benefit of that company. Even if it isn't trying to steal your identity or your credit card numbers or your operating system, you don't really know what it's doing. Even if you allowed it on to your computer - and you didn't invite most of it - it might be hidden in the processes that are necessary to run your system.
Most anti-virus programs are not equipped to find and fight spyware. Those that do include it usually have it as a standalone program, accessed separately. A spyware scanner is necessary for the clean running of your machine. They work by comparing known spyware components against the programs running on your computer. Every good spyware scanner has to be updated regularly to keep finding those sneaky software spies.
Spyware always has a twist. When it comes to choosing a spyware scanner, the twist is that some free, downloadable scanners come bundled with secret spyware. The advertising money pays for the free programs in the same way that ad banners pay for some web sites. As innocent as that sounds, a study has found that the majority of computers have either no spyware or dozens of programs.
Sometimes a piece of spyware acts like an immune deficiency disease, allowing more opportunistic spyware to infect the computer. Even innocent spyware endangers your computer. A good spyware scanner can avoid all of these problems. If a bit of spyware is all right with you because it carries with it some software that allows you to collect music or play videos, a spyware scanner can keep other spyware from collecting on the hard drive and slowing down the system.