What is adware?

The term Adware consists of the two English words "advertisement" and "software". The former stands for "advertising", which means that the software described as adware has something to do with advertising measures. It is important to distinguish between two main forms. One can be attributed to the regularly distributed programs on the Internet. The other is malware, i.e. malicious software that actually has no place on the Mac or PC. In this guide, you will find the characteristics of the two types of adware and more information. If you have any questions or your own information on the subject, please leave a comment.

What is adware? What types of advertising software are there? Where are the ads on my computer coming from and how do I get rid of them? You can find answers and more information in this guide.
What is adware? What types of advertising software are there? Where are the ads on my computer coming from and how do I get rid of them? You can find answers and more information in this guide.

First adware type: Ad-supported software

The first type of adware is a free program or app whose development is funded by advertisements within the software. You probably know this from free apps for iOS and Android. Some offer the option of opting out of the advertisements for a one-off payment or by taking out a subscription. Here, advertising is part of the business model and is intended to financially secure the development of the offers made available free of charge.


  • Advertising is part of the main program and its financing model
  • The source of the advertisements can thus be clearly identified
  • The advertising can be uninstalled with the main app or deactivated by making a payment

Second adware type: Advertising software as a by-product

Different and much more annoying is adware, which comes along as individual software and displays advertising via pop-up, as a message in the taskbar (Windows) or in some other form. Then you can confidently speak of malware, i.e. malware. Because it serves no purpose other than advertising and thus wastes processor power and memory. Furthermore, advertising malware often hides itself in such a way that it cannot be easily removed. Operating systems, anti-virus software and offers specially developed against adware now recognize most nerve programs.


  • The advertisements are not from the main program that you downloaded
  • The source (which download) and file path (location on disk) are not clear
  • Uninstalling or purchasing a full version of the main app does not change the malware

How does adware get onto the computer, smartphone or tablet?

With freeware that is financed by advertisements, the advertisement comes with the regular download. It is part of the program and can also be thrown off the hard drive with it. The adware, which can be described as malware, on the other hand, can, similarly virus and other malware, hide in the download of programs or other files. It can also be offered as an additional option for downloads from download portals. Here, users must ensure that they deactivate the check mark in the upstream downloader or installer. So here's the old hint again: Do not download programs from download portals.

Do browser search bars and toolbars belong to adware?

Who does not know the toolbar meme that one Browser (Internet Explorer) where you can hardly see the actual website for all the toolbars? It is not uncommon for the picture to be accompanied by the line "And my parents ask me why their computer is so slow". Even in the wild, people who z. B. were active on the web in the 2000s, have already seen such search and mail bars. However, they do not always belong to the adware. That may be true for the Ask toolbar, which referred to special pages to generate advertising revenue. Others were just plain crap or bloatware. I will explain these terms elsewhere.

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