Trying to remove adware from your Android phone can be tricky, as you may not know where these annoying pop-up ads came from and how they ended up on your device in the first place.
You can find online advertisements everywhere these days, but adware can take it a step further by infiltrating your device like malware. If you see an unbearable amount of ads appear on your Android, from the apps you use to the random pop-up windows that automatically open, it’s likely to be affected by adware.
Adware can sneak its way onto your Android through many methods, such as downloading an app (free or paid) or clicking on a malicious link on a website that quietly downloads the pesky software onto your phone, tablet or PC.
Fortunately, you can get rid of this malicious ad software on your Android just as quickly as it is to download it. And the sooner you do it, the better; it can be a sneaky gateway to installing harmful malware that steals your data and banking information.
Read on to find out how to remove adware from Android and the best adware removers that do the work for you.
How to remove adware on Android
There are several ways to remove adware from your Android device. Sometimes, it can appear in a free app you download, meaning all you need to do to get rid of these obnoxious pop-ups is to upgrade to an ad-free subscription. However, adware can go beyond the app itself, with suspicious advertisements appearing in your browser and on your Android’s screen.
This is when you need to remove suspicious apps from your Android safely.
Safely remove an app on Android
- On your Android, press the necessary buttons to turn off your device.
- Tap and hold the Power off icon.
- Press OK to reboot to safe mode. This will restart your device.
- Once restarted, head to Settings.
- Navigate to Apps.
- Select any suspicious apps you wish to remove.
- Tap Uninstall. Restart your device to go back to normal mode.
Clear cache on Android
Clearing your browser and app cache on your Android device will help minimize the effects of adware. Apps and browsers store your online activities, and adware can use this to create more targeted ads. Clearing cache can also help clear up space on your Android, boosting the device’s performance.
- To clear app cache, head to Settings on your Android.
- Select Storage and choose Apps.
- Select an app.
- Tap Clear cache.
Many Android owners use Google Chrome as their default browser. Here’s how to clear cache in Chrome on Android.
- On your Android, open Chrome.
- Tap the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner.
- Select Settings.
- Tap Privacy and security.
- Select Clear browsing data.
- To just clear cache, uncheck Browsing history and Cookies and site data.
- Tap Clear data.
Use adware removers and antivirus software
The best way to get rid of adware, along with any other malicious software that sneaks onto your device, is to use an adware removal tool or antivirus software.
Many free removal apps will easily dispatch any malicious software lingering on your device. But it’s a good idea to make sure these tools are trustworthy, as hackers can also disguise these apps to deploy more adware or malware. We recommend free apps from known cybersecurity companies, including Avast One and Malwarebytes Mobile Security. These will detect and remove any nasty ad-type malware on your Android.
The best antivirus apps come with a suite of security features that not only get rid of unwanted adware but also any virus, malware, ransomware, spyware or any malicious software that burrows into your Android. Some antivirus software, such as Bitdefender, offers security subscriptions specifically for Android, making it more affordable.
What is adware?
Also known as advertising-supported software, adware is software that automatically displays numerous online advertisements on a user’s screen. It’s a way for threat actors to generate revenue by displaying ads and luring users into clicking on them.
Adware is generally less harmful than malware, as developers mainly use it to make money by displaying a continuous number of ads without harming the user. This can be done through pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-view (PPV) and pay-per-install (PPI). The more ads you see or click, the more profit the threat actor will automatically make – this is why you’ll see an abundance of ads pop up on your smartphone, tablet and PC.
Unlike the ads you see appear on webpages, adware is software that installs on your device disguised as a legitimate program, software or app. It can request your device to show windows over apps or windows, which can make navigating around your device frustrating. What’s more, it can evade detection by hiding its presence from a device’s list of installed apps or replacing an icon of an app or program you download to make it difficult to spot.
While less harmful, this malicious software can trick users into downloading malware, too. The ads that pop up can lead to malicious websites, and clicking the wrong link will expose your device to malware.
Signs of adware on Android
Adware can be easy to spot, as you’ll see a copious amount of advertisements pop-up out of nowhere, but other symptoms will notify you that your Android phone or tablet needs some cleaning. This includes your browser redirecting you to different web pages and installing unwanted toolbars, extensions or plugins. However, adware can also affect your device directly.
- Your device is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
- Your browser is slower than usual and crashes frequently.
- Browsing through websites takes longer.
- You need to recharge your device more often.
- Apps take longer to load.
- There’s an unknown app or software on your device you didn’t download.
Best antivirus for Android
You can find out the best antivirus software below.
Best overall antivirus
Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.
Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need.
See our full Bitdefender review
Best free antivirus
With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.
Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.
It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.
See our full Avast One review
Best antivirus for families
“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990.
Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats.
Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.
If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.
See our full Norton 360 review
Another best antivirus for free
You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.
AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.
Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.
See our full AVG Antivirus review