Adware or advertising-supported software is any software package which automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertisements to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used. Some types of adware are also spyware and can be classified as privacy-invasive software.
Advertising functions are integrated into or bundled with the software, which is often designed to note what Internet sites the user visits and to present advertising pertinent to the types of goods or services featured there. Adware is usually seen by the developer as a way to recover development costs, and in some cases it may allow the software to be provided to the user free of charge or at a reduced price. The income derived from presenting advertisements to the user may allow or motivate the developer to continue to develop, maintain and upgrade the software product. Conversely, the advertisements may be seen by the user as interruptions or annoyances, or as distractions from the task at hand.
Some adware is also shareware, and so the word may be used as term of distinction to differentiate between types of shareware software. What differentiates adware from other shareware is that it is primarily advertising-supported. Users may also be given the option to pay for a "registered" or "licensed" copy to do away with the advertisements.
Adware can also download and install PUPs to your computer.
Well-known adware programs/programs distributed with adware
The Eudora e-mail client is a popular example of an adware "mode" in a program. After a trial period during which all program features are available, the user is offered a choice: a free (but feature-limited), an ad-supported mode with all the features enabled, or a paid mode that enables all features and turns off the ads.
Prevention and detection
Programs have been developed to detect, quarantine, and remove spyware
. As there are many examples of adware software that are also spyware or malware
, many of these detection programs have been developed to detect, quarantine, and remove adware as well. Among the more prominent of these applications are Ad-Aware
and Spybot - Search & Destroy
. These programs are designed specifically for spyware detection and will not detect viruses, although some commercial antivirus software
can also detect adware and spyware, or offer a separate spyware detection package.