If your computer or other devices have suddenly slowed down lately, someone might tell you to check for adware or spyware. It’s true that both of these problems can slow your connection speed or even the device’s processor. But despite the names being used interchangeably, adware and spyware are actually two different things. Read on, if you’re interested to learn the difference.

The purpose of adware is to collect data from your browser. Often, you have actually given permission for a program to perform this function, in exchange for something that the developers have offered you. For example, many free smart phone apps come with adware. It collects information on your browsing habits, and the app developers use that information for advertising purposes. If you’ve ever wondered how or why anyone would spend the time and money to develop an app, only to distribute it for free, this is your explanation. They are offering you a free product, in exchange for gathering information that they can use to make their profit.

Adware can also be attached to “free” versions of computer software. Again, it’s an exchange you’ve made with the software company, and most of the time you consented to this adware during the installation process (although you might not have noticed it in the fine print).

Spyware, on the other hand, is installed on your computer or other device’s browser without your consent. The purpose of spyware is also to gather information on you, but these programs can be much more insidious. Some come with keyloggers, that track personal information such as email addresses, passwords, credit card data, and other sensitive information. The difference is that you did not consent to install spyware on your device, and these programs are often distributed via hackers rather than legitimate software companies.

Both adware and spyware, when installed on one device, can spread to other devices on your network. This makes the problem extra frustrating for business owners, whose employees might accidentally pick up one of these programs.

Essentially, the difference between adware and spyware is your consent. However, knowing that you probably (accidentally) consented to adware likely doesn’t make it any less annoying for you. If you’re experiencing slow connections or a sluggish processor, give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH. We can help you identify the source of the problem, and learn how to prevent adware and spyware from being installed on your devices.