Spyware is extremely common on the internet today, and almost any world wide web surfing session will result in pop-up windows being present to the user that often will result in inadvertent spyware downloads. Another common way that the user may find him or herself infected with spyware is with its bundling in many "free" applications - usually freeware p2p software and utilities that cost with a hidden cost: spyware.
Spyware should be treated in much the same way that the average user treats viruses and other malicious software: with spyware software. There are almost as many spyware downloads as there are antivirus packages available. As with the antivirus software, free spyware downloads can be found. One of the most useful is Microsoft Antispyware - currently this software is in the beta stage and can be downloaded for free from Microsoft. There is also lavasoft's AdAware which does a good job of locating and removing most spyware. And of course, there are many commercial packages (Symentec being one of the most popular) available.
When looking for the best spyware software, each user should keep his or her needs in mind. For many users, the best spyware software is also going to be the free software, and while this may be an economic decision much of the best spyware software does happen to be free of charge for personal use. Many users may also want to consider the system resources involved in their spyware software. Like antivirus software, the best spyware software will also have a module which runs at system startup and constantly monitors the user's PC for a spyware infection. This software, however, this can also take up precious system resources.
Many of the users who may find themselves most susceptible to spyware are also users who require the most out of their PC. Because spyware is common with p2p file sharing and other CPU intensive tasks, users who need to get the most out their PC may prefer a program like AVG or another antivirus and spyware combined removal tool which is slow of system resources.
It will be of every user's benefit to have some kind of spyware software installed. Besides being irritating (in the from of redirecting your web browser to Ad heavy pages, or sending pop-up windows to your desktop) spyware can drastically slow down the performance of your machine by running many background tasks and taking up bandwidth with its data mining.
Many users, in combating spyware, may want to consider a package that attacks both virus and spyware together, both Panda Antivirus and Symantec Antivirus claim to remove both spyware and viruses without the need for additional tools. Although for a novice user it may be more convenient to only have to worry about a single piece of software, many advanced users may find their needs better served by specific applications for each task.
Regardless of what choice is ultimately made, spyware should pose little problem for the average user with the right software installed and a bit of caution.