Trojans vs. Viruses

Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes – Confused about the differences between a virus, a trojan, adware, and spyware? While they all fall under the category of malware, they are all very different types of digital nasties


Have you ever watched the movie Troy with Brad Pitt? It’s the one where the Greeks build a huge wooden horse and hide soldiers inside of it? Yeah – you know the story.

A computer trojan is a lot like that movie. It’s a program installed on your computer (often bundled with another program) that runs in the background. It will open a door to your computer, so to speak, to allow another person to get IN. They can see your files, look at everything on your computer, and even take over your computer and use it for malicious means.

A virus is destructive. It can rewrite your files, overwrite your files, and even wipe out your files. Some viruses can execute themselves to basically cripple your system in a matter of seconds. There are others that simply install themselves quietly, and then send copies of themselves out to everyone in your address book to infect them.

Spyware is a nifty little bugger that likes to… well… SPY on you. For example, those cool toolbars and desktop widgets you install – or a program you downloaded from a file sharing network – often will have spyware bundled with them. This spyware gathers information about you and your surfing habits, and will send it back to the distributor without your knowledge and/or consent.

And of course, we have adware. Adware is just an ad running inside of a program. It installs itself directly onto your computer, and can open new browser windows, redirect your current window, and even hijack your search engine to redirect to its own results. Yes… those annoying popups you can never seem to get rid of are adware.

Everyone has a different opinion on how to get rid of malware. What I’m interested in is knowing how you got infected… and what you did to stop and/or clean your system. Leave us feedback, or visit us in the live chat at

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