Remove Adware - How to Beat Pop-Ups & Gain Back the Home Court Advantage
With the constant proliferation of annoying pop-up ads invading their personal computer space, many people are seeking ways to combat this formidable opponent. It may seem impossible at times to rid your computer entirely of those pesky ads that compromise your browsing experience and even slow down your computer, but luckily, there are effective methods of avoiding as many pop-ups, adware and spyware programs as possible.
But first, what exactly is adware? Why are you bombarded with so many pop-ups that surfing the Internet becomes a hassle? Pop-ups, of course, are advertisements that "pop up" in a separate window when you surf the Internet, usually at particular sites that have pop-up advertising. The website you visit can be the culprit of the pop-up ads you see, but other sources are also used to generate pop-up ads as you browse online. For example, adware can also create pop-up windows in your browser. Adware refers to any software program that generates pop-up advertising directly from your computer. Adware is dubbed "spyware" when the adware program running on your computer also serves a secondary function - to collect personal information and pass it on to third parties without your knowledge or consent. This is where adware is most criticized, especially by those who feel privacy is an important right whether you are online or not. Spyware that is installed entirely without a user's permission is the worst-case scenario, but most people unknowingly allow this code to be used on their computers through other means. This usually occurs by downloading and installing a "free" program you do want without realizing that you have also agreed to let the company install spyware on your system. In computer vernacular these programs are known as Trojans. The actual shareware or freeware program may be a Trojan disguised as a legitimate (or at least harmless) application you want to have on your computer, or it can be an extra attached to the program of which you are unaware.
Perhaps you recently downloaded a nifty browser toolbar to make your life easier when conducting online searches, or to have quick and instant access to your local weather? Unfortunately, you might have also unwittingly downloaded (with your permission) an adware program that will assail you with constant pop-ups and might even track your moves online. Peer-to-peer file sharing applications are also notorious for being full of spyware applications. Although most of the information collected relates to advertising and target-marketing, if you put certain strategies in place to avoid as much adware as possible, you will definitely rest easier, as the most malicious of spyware programs do have the capability to log your keystrokes and obtain personal information, such as passwords, that you don't want falling into the wrong hands.
Task bar balloon pop-ups are another form of pop-up advertising that can cause you a lot of trouble. Instead of popping up in a separate window box, this type of pop-up emerges out of your task bar to send an advertising message. Task bar balloon pop-ups are a nuisance because they seemingly appear right from your computer desktop, making you feel as if someone is always watching you, even if it is only an adware program. But while task bar pop-ups might seem more threatening than other pop-ups, they are born from the same mother - adware code present on your computer that got there either through a recent software application download or by visiting a bad website (any website that has spyware programs just waiting to infect your computer when you visit).
Perhaps the most insidious way you can be tricked into downloading software onto your computer "willingly" is through the appearance of a Windows dialogue box. This is a type of pop-up ad that appears when you browse certain websites, or it could come from adware already installed on your computer. For the inexperienced user the alert seems legitimate, which is what the creators of these pop-ups are counting on. The ads are worded in a way that makes you think your computer is sending the message, asking you to download software that will eradicate the spyware present on your system. Of course, instead of solving a non-existent problem, you are actually downloading a Trojan that will install adware on your computer and cause all sorts of annoying problems. If you did already have spyware on your system, these applications will not remove adware or remove spyware from your computer, but probably make things much worse. Sometimes these programs are designed to suck you into paying for a spyware removal program. After downloading the program, as the alert asks you to, you are notified that you have adware/spyware on your computer. The company that infected you with this spyware in the first place now offers you the cure - for a price. These companies rely on the ignorance and fears of its targets to make money.
Browser hijackers are the scariest type of spyware. After visiting a site or downloading malicious software accidentally, a hijacker program will be installed on your system against your knowledge. It then changes your browser settings so that your home page and favorites are all something different, usually a search engine or portal site; you are essentially taken prisoner and unable to reset the browser to the parameters of your own choosing. In addition, any time you initiate an online search through this engine, you are always redirected to affiliates and websites trying to make money. The people who used the hijacking program to direct you to these sites make affiliate money from these "hijacked" visitors.
How Do You Protect Your Computer From These Threats?
Knowing the different ways your computer can become infected by spyware and overrun by pop-up ads, you might be wondering how you can guard against all these threats. The best way is to install a reputable anti-spyware program like Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware 2.0 that will immunize your computer against common adware programs and continually work to keep new ones from being added. Running a good anti-spyware program and keeping it updated will make your life a thousand times easier and make it possible to protect your computer without too much effort.
To avoid the annoying pop-up ads that harass you on a constant basis, directly from websites, using an alternative browser (instead of Internet Explorer) is a must. Many people are unaware that they get so many pop-up ads simply because the browser they are using is not properly equipped to block pop-ups from their view. Obtaining a browser such as Firefox or Opera is the most simple and efficient way to protect your computer from unwanted ads and adware installations. The difference is noticeable when you are given the opportunity to browse pop-up free. These browsers are also designed to have less security holes than IE. Their advanced security enhancements block adware, spyware and malicious websites while keeping the browsing experience simple and user-friendly. Malicious software isn't even given the chance to install on your system, meaning less computer-related headaches for you.
By using web browsers that automatically block pop-ups, you don't have to download extra pop-up blockers or worry about keeping them updated. With the right browser, everything you need to avoid those dreaded pop-ups is already set up and working as an integral part of your browser. This means more efficiency in pop-up blocking, less adware programs clogging up your computer and more time to do what you intended in the first place - surf the Internet.