Most people have virus protection installed on their computers. This is a great thing! Many of the virus protection programs around today protect computers against spyware and adware and all other known types of malware as well as viruses. This, too, is a great thing!
The word malware is the quick substitute word for the term "malicious software." It refers to any type of virus or spyware that can get into your computer. Some years ago, the only kind of malware we had to deal with were computer viruses. The job of a computer virus was always to annoy computer operators to one extent or another.
A Nuisance and a Threat
Some viruses were simply written as jokes. A computer geek may actually write such a script to entertain himself. On the other hand, the purpose of a computer virus may be to kill your computer forever! Even worse the goal of a virus might be to shut down a large network of computers. This would usually be referred to as cyber-terrorism.
Spyware are closely aligned with viruses. The subtle difference is a person who writes a virus is out to do your computer harm. A person who writes spyware is usually out to steal your passwords, banking account numbers and the like. If he does harm to your computer's operating system while doing so; oh well.
Stealing Your Power
Viruses and spyware slow down computers because they use the computer's resources to do whatever it is they are doing. They are computer programs. Like all computer programs, some of them run on XP, some on Windows Vista, etc.
Unlike normal programs, they don't have an icon on your desktop so you can start it up if you chose to. Viruses run on their own terms. You don't have an option to shut them down either. Many viruses replicate themselves. So, if one computer virus program steals some of your resources, 50 of them, which could be one virus that has replicated itself 50 times, might put you out of business altogether.
I've seen spyware make computers unusable as well. Spyware by itself does not replicate itself. However, it is not unheard of to find a spyware-unprotected PC with more than 1,000 spyware infections. With this much spyware present on a hard drive, the operating system will have all it can do to try to accommodate them. In a situation like this, you probably wouldn't be able to start any of you programs, like Word or IE, for instance.
The bottom line is viruses and spyware have the capability of keeping your operating system and microprocessor busy to the point you will not get any response from your computer or at best, a very slow response. So, it is very important to keep your computer free of these things. I recommend using a good virus protection program that cleans out all types of spyware as well.
It is also very wise to have a registry cleaner on hand as well. From what I've seen, registry corruption has slowed down more computers than anything else. There is nothing malicious about it. It simply occurs from normal use and tends to make computers very sluggish.