How do I get rid of monitoring software on my computer?

Andrew Harris October 1, 2012
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I overheard my parents talking when they thought I wasn’t listening and I think they have put monitoring software on my PC. My mother was having trouble using it, and then my dad said “I’ll show you how to use it later tonight.”

So how do I find it and get it off my computer? I have an admin account on the computer but have limited understanding of computer jargon. Thanks!

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  1. william nunn
    October 17, 2012 at 4:04 am

    get rid of monitoring bs

  2. EternalCharax
    October 9, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    So many, many ways to answer this..

    OK, basically "Monitoring" can take many forms, it can capture keystrokes, it can record what you're doing, it can take periodic snapshots of your screen - telling you how to circumvent one of them would be pointless if they're using a different one, so I'll just go through ones which will work on anything:

    1) Stop the software running
    You have an admin account, so this'll be easy. Open up the Start menu and in the search box (I'll assume you're using Windows 7 for now, I can't give you instructions for every system) type in msconfig and press enter.

    From there, go to startup and disable anything you don't recognise - you can disable it all if you like, its very rare something appears on there which is vital.

    Then go to Services, check "Hide all Microsoft services" and check the list for things that look suspicious. Things from Intel/NVidia/Adobe are fine, anything you don't recognise can be disabled. .

    Click OK and restart, your computer should start up faster and you'll have stopped the software running.

    2) Remove it.
    It's been installed recently, so Start->Control Panel->Programs and Features will show it up fairly easily, just click on the "Installed On" heading until the most recent date is at the top. If it's not something you recognise, remove it.

    As others have mentioned, some software hides itself from that list and you can use Revo Uninstaller to remove it, you can download it here: http://www.revouninstaller.com/start_freeware_download.html - however installing it may give away that you know what they're doing, so a better approach would be to use the Portable version from here: http://www.revouninstaller.com/download/revouninstaller.zip - just unzip it somewhere and run Revouninstaller.exe from the folder it makes. Takes a bit longer but leaves less of a trace, and maintains your current advantage of surprise.

    3) Bypass it entirely
    Portable operating systems are wonderful things, you keep the whole system on a flash drive and take it with you. Only hardware-based monitoring works on them and even then, they tend to be designed to monitor Windows, so they get confused if they encounter anything else. Portable systems arent great for gaming, but you can always reboot the system into Windows for gaming anyway - all yourparents will see is long periods of inactivity followed by bouts of gaming, and gaming's fairly innocent (generally)

    Nice and easy to do, even if you do need to buy a USB stick to do it. MUO even has an easy guide here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/linux-live-usb-creator-easily-boot-linux-flash-drive/

    Best of luck thwarting the covert surveillance, let us know how you get on

  3. Dany Bouffard
    October 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Search the internet for names of programs that monitor computer and then searh in add-remove program and uninstall it.

  4. Bodi Hemanth
    October 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    specify the programm name dude.

  5. Kavita
    October 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

    use a third party software to remove it...there are loads of them for free...

  6. Swaroop Nunna
    October 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Seems you are under age to access what your parents thinking you are trying to access. Seems your parents are protecting you

    • Dean Sherwin
      October 9, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      I'll be the first person to say it - maybe the dude wants to watch porn or something? Not exactly life shattering stuff.

      Even at my age (20) I'd be seriously annoyed if anyone was checking up on my computer usage. Even if all I'm doing is checking boring emails, what I do when I'm alone is my business.

      Many of the posters here are adults. Maybe old enough that they didn't have a PC as teenager. Yet anyone who did, at that age, will obviously Google super-sensitive questions and so forth.

      Talking to your kid and flat out telling them about the existence of paedophiles is far more effective than secretly monitoring. Also, kids are smarter when it comes to technology.Eventually they'll find out and every last drop of trust in their parents will be gone. That's when REAL teenager problems start.

      Why not install CCTV in his room to?

  7. Deekshith Allamaneni
    October 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Download Ubuntu (It is an Operating System) from http://www.ubuntu.org.
    Then install it on a USB drive with persistence (search MakeUseOf on how to do it). Then whenever you want to go private and be away from all the tracking softwares, just boot to your computer with the pen drive. I bet your parents cannot treack you then.

  8. Dimal Chandrasiri
    October 2, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    use a third party application to uninstall since some monitoring apps tends to hide them selves from getting public in the installed software section. and using an uninstaller, you can uninstall any software. but first find out what sort of monitoring apps are installed!

  9. Rajaa Chowdhury
    October 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Also I personally think that the MakeUseOf monitoring team should not have posted this question in the forum in the first place.

  10. Rajaa Chowdhury
    October 2, 2012 at 11:40 am

    How irresponsible of people trying to help a minor circumvent a parental control. Guys, you all need to be more responsible and give Andrew the correct advice and done by Bruce, Alan, GrrGrrr, Richard, Tug, HLJonnalagadda, Kernel Recovery Tools, Rob Hindle, DalSan Mack, Dave Rimmer.

    iLochtefeld, Niharika K Rai, Calle Sweden - would earnestly request you guys to act a bit more responsibly going forward. Cheers!!! :)

  11. Calle Sweden
    October 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Well, one way is to just re-install windows, but you place all your important files on a USB drive, like a back up ;) If you don`t want to do that, just search for "parent, parenting, monitor, spy...." on you PC and check to see if there is anything there.

  12. Dave Rimmer
    October 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Well I am afraid that should have been the first reply just how old are you and why you would want to bypass it, or simply ask you parents...

  13. DalSan Mack
    October 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Monitoring in the workplace is no different! It is in place not only to protect the user, but to protect all parties involved (in your case, you and your entire family). Should you choose the right path, trust would be made and monitoring would be minimal. Choose the wrong path, and it goes from monitoring software to blocking software, which might include blocking the use of some programs, blocking some sites including this one, and even blocking internet and/or your computer completely at certain times of the and week. Viruses, malware, spyware, and malicious people are all over the internet, and protections should be considered until knowing how to navigate safely on the internet. The naive would think that social networking sites are even remotely safe from any of these things, but are among the top ways of getting viruses, hacked, stalked, or even have your identity stolen. Bring mature and civil about this and talking to your parents would get you further in life than you may think, and will build the trust that makes it easier to come to one another and discuss any issues or problems throughout life. Taking the measures you wish to take would only destroy that trust and would take years to gain back, if only a little.

    • DalSan Mack
      October 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      *being, not bring mature.

  14. Rody
    October 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    If you have admin account you can uninstall or change a program just search it in your pc on the control panel .

    But it is good enough if you talk to your parents and tack them in confidence that you are not doing anything wrong .

  15. Rob Hindle
    October 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

    There are places on the internet more dangerous than a back alley in the worst part of town. It's easy to think "nothing I can't handle" - 'till you are confronted by the reality. In front of a computer in your bedroom feels a lot safer than being confronted by a drunk looking for a fight. Don't be fooled.

    Personally I block bad sites (using openDNS) so if anyone in the house tries to go somewhere ill-advised they see an alert - that includes dodgy links that say they're going one place and actually take you elsewhere.

    That way it's clear to everyone what's happening. Even so kids can get groomed by paedophiles on social network sites. Parents don't want that to happen, they want to keep an eye on things so want the ability to check. In my opinion they should tell the kid they do that and why - the trouble is that requires a degree of maturity on the part of the kid, some just cannot grasp that the parents aim is to protect not intrude.

    Of course if parents monitor activity and find their kids demonstrating maturity that would be a good thing all round.

  16. Niharika K Rai
    October 1, 2012 at 7:21 am

    You can check it on your control panel in programs and feature section. If any new software has been installed it will be listed there.

    • Yashodhan Bhatt
      October 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

      Advanced monitoring softwares have the capability of hiding themselves even from that list...go for a better option such as Revo Uninstaller to get full list of installed programs on your system..hope that helps...

  17. Kernel Recovery Tools
    October 1, 2012 at 5:53 am

    I think you should talk to your parents and more build trust in their mind. If your activities are trustworthy they don't need to monitor you.

  18. Tug Ricks
    October 1, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Have you considered talking to your parents about this? I know it's not the coolest thing to do, but I'm sure they have valid reasons for wanting to monitor/protect your online activities. While it might not seem like it now, trust me Andy, they have your best interests in mind.

    • HLJonnalagadda
      October 1, 2012 at 6:50 am

      That's some really good advise..

  19. Richard Whennell
    October 1, 2012 at 12:42 am

    How old are you Andrew? Rather than being snooping parents, they could simply be trying to protect you. Before you get all adolescent and flame me back...you have rights...you are entitled to do your own thing...BUT...there are those out there that would take advantage of an impressionable young person.

    Besides, unless you have something to hide, what is the problem? Do you have something to hide? Do you visit dodgy websites (we are only human)? Do you use your parents credit cards on the web? That would be one reason for me to monitor my son's computer - when he is old enough to engage in such activities...

    Just be safe...

  20. iLochtefeld
    October 1, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Hope this helps.

    "To uninstall or change a program

    Open Programs and Features by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Programs, and then clicking Programs and Features.

    Select a program, and then click Uninstall. Some programs include the option to change or repair the program in addition to uninstalling it, but many simply offer the option to uninstall. To change a program, click Change or Repair. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation."

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Uninstall-or-change-a-program

    • Bruce Epper
      October 1, 2012 at 12:42 am

      Just answering this question is wrong on so many levels. It is quite apparent that it is a minor who is trying to get around his parents attempts to monitor what he is doing on the Internet. Granted, the parents aren't going about this the right way in the first place since OP has an admin account on the machine in the first place. But telling a minor how to go about circumventing parental controls is something that should not be happening on this site.

      • iLochtefeld
        October 1, 2012 at 12:51 am

        Someone asked a question, I gave an answer. I had no poor intentions. I don't need lectured.

        • Bruce Epper
          October 1, 2012 at 1:01 am

          Just spewing out an answer to a minor is irresponsible and apparently you do need to be lectured. Would you do the same thing if he was asking how to build a portable nuke? You really need to consider ALL possible facets of the situation before answering something like this. Just a brief consideration of how the question and additional documentation was presented clearly indicates this is a minor that does not want his parents monitoring his activity on the computer. That alone should have raised a HUGE red flag. That red flag then should have led to to make a comment more like Richard Whennell below explaining why Andrew should not be getting a solution to his "problem" instead of providing a means for him to thwart his parents attempts to keep him safe.

        • Alan Wade
          October 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm

          I couldnt have said it better Bruce! Maybe the staff who monitor the questions asked could read them a little more rigorously.

        • Tim Brookes
          October 4, 2012 at 12:38 am

          Just to clarify, I approved this question in its entirety after reading it thoroughly. Snooping software, i.e. software that monitors what you do, is in my eyes really not good. It's one thing to impose restrictions on certain websites (censoring bad websites) but an entirely different thing to monitor what someone is doing online. Responsible parents don't retroactively give their son grief for visiting a website they left the door open to. That's almost entrapment.

          I remember being young myself, it wasn't that long ago, and I'd feel pretty mortified if I felt my parents were watching my every move online. It doesn't have to be an illegal activity, it doesn't have to be questionable content, but everyone - including minors - deserve a bit of privacy at times. Reading your son's Facebook messages or email account is one sign of a nanny-like society where we feel children can't do anything for themselves any more.

          Also there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking and publishing a question (and answering it also) on the Internet. If it wasn't MUO Answers then I'm sure Andrew would have asked somewhere else, and I figured our community was one of the nicer more helpful places for him to get his answers.

          I see nothing wrong with this question being published. That goes for the comments telling Andrew to talk to his parents, and those telling him not to remove the software at all.

          Oh, and if his parents really are watching him won't they see this thread? Won't they think twice maybe about why their son tried to defy them by removing a blatant privacy concern? Doesn't it show, if anything, some intuition?

        • Devon
          October 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm

          He is going to find out anyway. Blocking one website will do nothing for him. I had that happen to me using anti-virus software and anyone with a brain will just go to another site. The internet is filled with repeated content so I can find the same answer somewhere else. If you're not happy about how the site functions maybe we should all start paying for this service so that they could hire some people to manage who says what, until then either stay or go.

        • Mac Witty
          October 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm

          I don’t mind if parents install it on their kids computers if the do it open - telling the kid what they have done and why. Saying that, this put a huge responsibility on the parents. Now they will be the guarantors of the sites the child visit. The child does not have to think, as long as their parents do not say anything, they are on the safe side. As a parent, I would not dare to take on such a responsibility.

          However, I am strongly opposed to install a program on a child's computer in secret. I don’t think secret monitoring belong to family life.

      • GrrGrrr
        October 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        I agree with you Bruce.

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