December 21st, 2006
I remember the days when popups were really a problem. Today, popups, popunders, floating ads, and the like aren't really that much of a problem thanks, in part, to the newest generation of browsers like Firefox 5 and Internet Explorer 9 that offer built-in popup protection. Sometimes, though, popup blocking protections in your favorite web browser aren't enough; other causes of popups can be viruses, spyware, and adware--malicious or sneaky software meant to glean or destroy personal information and preferences from your computer.
I suppose popups are still a problem and getting rid of popups is something people want to know about, but getting rid of popups sometimes means getting rid of useful features that many upscale websites offer. So, before you go off buying popup blocking software and rendering your computer hacker/spy proof, take some time to review the advice offered here.
Blocking Popups and Stopping Popups
Upgrading to a better web browser is the first thing you should do to get rid of popups. Older browsers like Internet Explorer 5, Netscape, and others don't offer the kind of scipting protections necessary to stop popups from cluttering your workspace. I prefer Chrome, but the latest version of Firefox is looking pretty slick too. Internet explorer has made some progress in the last couple of years as well.
If you see popups all the time, chances are you need to get rid of some spyware and adware. Spyware programs are sometimes the cause of popups. I would go with something like Ad-Aware by Lavasoft. I've been using Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition for quite some time now and I couldn't be happier. I also have been using Microsoft Security Essentials for both antivirus and spyware/adware protection. The other spyware killing software the on market just doesn't compare to it--and it's free. That's a bonus.
Free antivirus software can help you get rid of popups. Popups, popunders, floating ads, and even some homepage hijackers are caused by a virus that has infected your PC. Right, but you hate it when antivirus software bogs down your computer more than the viruses do! Well, thank God someone decided to create Avast! Avast is an anti-virus software that does a pretty good job at preventing PC virus infections and subsequently preventing some kinds of popups. It's free and far less intrusive (and less CPU intensive) than Norton, McAfee, or PC-cillin.
Toolbars are a convenient and effective way to get rid of popups, popunders, and most floaters. Most of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN offer special popup fighting toolbars that not only prevent, block, and get rid of popups, but also offer you the convenience of not having to open a new browser window everytime you want to do a search. But watch out for toolbars offered by companies you don't recognize. Those are often vehicles for more popups, spyware, and adware installations.
Free Popup Blockers
These popup blocker software packages have been a matter of contention for a while now amongst the internet community. As I mentioned above, often times software that purports to block popups functions as spyware--and spyware is bad because it slows down your computer and can give personal information to people who could exploit it. It's best to avoid popup blocking software that you have to pay for. Usually, just running an upgraded version of your favorite web browser will do the trick; though in some cases this isn't possible, either because your computer is too slow, too old, or too protected by an egomaniacal network administrator. If this is the case, then a toolbar rather than paid popup blocking software is recommended. Paying for any useful software like pop up blockers should always be a last resort, because there's always an upstart software company out there willing to solve your problem for free, or at the very most, a short survey.