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An online spyware scan is a program that scans a computer in search of malicious code known as spyware or simply malware, which can track and record a user's activity. This is often for the purposes of stealing credit card information, passwords, emails, or other personal data. An online spyware scan is a way in which this spyware can be detected and, in some cases, removed. Anti-spyware programs typically come with most antivirus programs or security suites that are purchased and installed in a system, though it is also possible to purchase a dedicated anti-spyware computer program. Online scanning programs are a somewhat basic option that may not be able to detect all types of spyware, and may not be able to completely remove it.
Though typically free, an online spyware scan company may charge a fee to remove spyware that has been detected. In general, however, if a free spyware scan detects spyware on a computer, it is best to purchase an antivirus program that contains a spyware removal tool to be sure that all the spyware is removed. Some particularly pervasive viruses or spyware may only be eradicated with a complete reinstallation of the operating system. Most paid programs are fairly effective at detecting and removing malicious programs, however.
If choosing to use an online spyware scan to detect spyware on a computer, be sure to verify that the scan is legitimate, and not simply a trick to get the user to download something onto his or her machine that might be equally destructive. One way to do this is to simply do a quick search for the name of the spyware scan; if it comes up with positive reviews, then it is probably safe, but watch for mentions of a scam. This indicates that one should keep looking for a different scanning program. There are numerous options available for free online.
After the online spyware scan is completed, be sure to check the results carefully to determine if it is actually spyware. Some programs flag other computer programs as spyware, but they might be legitimate programs. Don't delete or uninstall anything from the system until certain that it is actually spyware and that uninstalling it will be effective. Again, it may be necessary to pay a fee to have the spyware removed by the online spyware scan, or take the computer somewhere for repair.