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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pop-up blockers - toolbars - bundled software

I hate pop-up blockers. I've had three calls this week from clients that could not access certain web functions. They thought that either the web sites or their browsers were malfunctioning. All cases were solved by turning off pop-up blockers and/or uninstalling the toolbars that include pop-up blockers. It's not too difficult  to get users to turn off the built-in pop-up blocker with IE7 but when they also have ones from Google, Yahoo, Verizon etc. it can get a little tricky to help them by 
phone.

I've found that most people don't even realize that they have these toolbars. They often come bundled with other software and even when it's an optional add-on, the default setting is usually to opt in. Once the toolbar is installed, the default setting for most is to block pop-ups. So, a typical user that is downloading some useful software and just clicks 'OK' or 'Next' without un-checking and resetting anything ends up with pop-ups being blocked and not knowing why. All they are aware of is that they can't log in to a banking site or the 'click to enlarge' option doesn't work when they're shopping etc.



Some people specifically download and install toolbars and/or pop-up blockers because they are getting "tons of pop-ups". I do a lot of web searching and open hundreds of sites every month and only a small percentage of the sites use pop-ups (or pop-unders) to show unsolicited advertising. If you're getting "tons of pop-ups" it's because your PC has a problem. Blocking the pop-ups only hides the symptoms for a while without fixing the spyware/virus/worm/trojan problem that is causing them.

Here are a few things that I want to encourage:

1. Software bundlers, please make additional software options an 'opt in' with the box unchecked.
2. Computer users, please read the short text before clicking 'OK'.
3. Web developers, please use pop-ups only to enhance the functionality of your sites and not for advertising revenue.
4. Toolbar developers, please make 'blocking' an option that defaults to 'off' and make it easy to re-set.
5. Computer users, if you are getting lots of pop-ups and they spawn more pop-up when you try to close them, call for help.

Comments

1. Siska said...

Spybot search and ruin is terirble news. I would get rid of it if I were you. It is supposed to get rid of spyware anyhow not viruses. If you google it most people reckon it itself is spyware. Get ad-aware, it is free and works really really well. it will deal with the trojan. just do a full system scan and give it about 10-20 minutes and then check all of the boxes in the menu. It takes a while to delete trojans. But it does the job. AVG is also excellent against viruses and it is free. Also get windows defender, it is a must have.But if you are willing to pay then windows live onecare is defiantly your best bet. It stops viruses and spyware before it downloads. Norton has also gone downhill it does not do as excellent a job as the earlier versions did and slows your computer down quite a bit.Hope I helped. P.S. if none of these work then go into a computer pile and they will deal with it.

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