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Unexplained Windows or software behavior may be caused by deceptive software

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

Symptoms
You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
  • When you start your computer, or when your computer has been idle for many minutes, your Internet browser opens to display website advertisements.
  • When you use your browser to view websites, other instances of your browser open to display website advertisements.
  • Your web browser's home page unexpectedly changes.
  • Web pages are unexpectedly added to your Favorites folder.
  • New toolbars are unexpectedly added to your web browser.
  • You cannot start a program.
  • When you click a link in a program, the link does not work.
  • Your web browser suddenly closes or stops responding.
  • It takes a much longer time to start or to resume your computer.
  • Components of Windows or other programs no longer work.
Cause
This issue may occur when deceptive software, such as spyware that is known as "grayware," is installed on your computer. This kind of software may come bundled with software that you want to install or may be included with downloaded web components.
Resolution
To resolve this problem, try to identify and remove deceptive software from your computer. To do this, use one or all the following methods. 

Note Because there are several versions of Microsoft Windows, the following steps may be different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete these steps.

Note If you use an operating system such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 that has the System Restore feature, we recommend that you set a valid restore point before you follow these steps. You can use the restore point to restore to the computer configuration that you had before you made the changes if you do not want the changes. 

Note Deceptive software programs may not follow standard practices for installation. Therefore, the software may not be found in the locations that are described in the following steps.

Use the Programs and Features item in Control Panel

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Programs, and then click Programs and Features.
  3. In the Uninstall or change a program list, find programs that you do not recognize or that are named similarly to the program that is causing the unwanted behavior.

    Note Some programs that have unfamiliar names may not be deceptive software. Some programs may have come preinstalled on the computer from the manufacturer or may be important components of other software that you have installed on your computer. We recommend that you use caution when you remove programs from your computer.
  4. Click the program that you want to remove, and then click Uninstall. To remove the program, follow the instructions that appear on your screen. You may have to restart your computer.

Use the built-in program remover

If the program that you want to remove is not listed in Programs and Features, you may be able to use the built-in program remover to remove the program. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Computer.
  2. Locate, and then select the following folders:
    C:\Program Files (x86)
    C:\Program Files
    Note The following folder only exists on computers that are running a 64-bit operating system:
    C:\Program Files (x86)
  3. From within both of these folders, search for a folder that has the name of the program that you want to remove or the name of a program that may have included the program that you want to remove.
  4. Open the Program_Name folder, and then click the program's "uninstall" file to remove the program (if the file exists). For example, the file might be named Uninst.exe, Uninstall, or Uninstall Program_Name.
  5. Follow the instructions to remove the program. 
Note If you find a folder for the program that you want to remove, but you do not find an "uninstall" file to remove the program, do not delete the folder or the contents of the folder. If you delete the folder or the contents of the folder, you may adversely affect your computer's performance and operation. For example, Windows may not start, programs may not start, or programs may stop running.

Use antivirus software

Some deceptive software can be removed by some antivirus programs. However, not all antivirus companies detect or remove this software because it differs from viruses. Contact the manufacturer of your antivirus software for more information about how to remove deceptive software. 

For more information about how to contact the manufacturer of your antivirus software, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
49500List of antivirus software vendors

Use an automated removal tool

For more information about tools that can help to remove deceptive software, visit the following Microsoft Safety & Security Center webpage:
More information
For more information about deceptive software, spyware and unauthorized adware, visit the following Microsoft website:To view the Microsoft privacy policy, visit the following Microsoft website: For more information about ways that you can help protect your computer, visit the Microsoft Protect Your Computer website:
adware spyware deceptive software malware
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Article ID: 827315 - Last Review: 07/06/2013 05:38:00 - Revision: 20.0

Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2, Windows Vista Service Pack 2, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3

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