So What is With All These Pop-ups I’m Getting?

Voluntary Illiterate, can just read the bold, but don’t blame me if you miss something important. That's probably what got you here in the first place.

I almost hate to write this article since removing pop-ups has been pretty lucrative for me lately, but it's getting real boring, so maybe if I tell you how to fix the easy ones, you can get on to causing more challenging problems on your computers.;-)

Every vendor delivering "free" software or updates is including in their download process something they consider "useful" that you don't need and most of the time don't want. This of course is a courtesy… Ya… right. They are getting paid for each download, so of course, they make these extras either inconspicuous or, worse, appear to be something that you need. Therefore, when downloading or loading from DVD, you need to read every screen that is presented to you looking for the actual name of the program that is being loaded. If it’s not the one you requested or there is a check box that agrees to loading something other than what you have requested, be careful. There is usually a check box or a “skip” action that you need to use so this garbage (not my first choice of words) doesn't end up on your computer. The “skip” action might be hidden until you mouse over the right location on the screen. Even vendors that I have recommended for years are doing this. Your ever-helpful ISP (e.g., Time Warner, Frontier, ...) are doing it with antivirus software. You do not need a McAfee product if you already have an antivirus application. Contrary to their suggestion, you don’t need tuning software either. If you are not sure, call and ask me.

My favorite!… Recently, I bought a Microsoft Office License from my favorite vendor and as a "bonus", I was sold a game on my invoice . (It was actually more complicated than that. They deducted $40 from the price of Office and added the game for $40. They of course advertised the reduced price on Office. I am sure they are on commission with the game company.) I didn't want the game. I didn't need the game. But I couldn't order the Office software at the reduced price without getting the download of a game. I couldn’t even order Office at the full price to avoid getting the game license. Really pissed me off and, yes they know now, that it pissed me off… At least they did not force me to actually download the game… Small consolation, I know.

Invariably, when you have loaded one of these handy extra programs, the symptom is usually a pop-up something. It is either a prompt to tune your computer when you have never had to tune your computer before or browser window for some more downloads or a shopping site. Sometimes it is the very dangerous “You are infected with a virus! Download XYZ and we will fix it.” Don't click anything on that that prompt. It is wired to start downloading regardless of where you click... Even the X to close the window will trigger a download.

So the real defense against this activity is never to download anything… But as I said, even the legitimate vendors are doing things in update software… as a courtesy… so downloading is hard to avoid. I can’t emphasize enough… read the prompts carefully.

If you miss something, I do sometimes too, or you didn’t “check the box to not not get something”… Ya, watch those double negatives, here is what I have to do when you call and say, “So What is With All These Pop-ups I’m Getting?” If you are using Windows 7 or 8, then you can probably clean up a lot of them yourself without downloading a registry cleaner... Ya, that’s the first thing I want to do when I have been infected from a download program… I want to download another program… Not! If you are still on XP, the process is a little more complex, so you will have to keep calling me.

In Window 7 or 8, as soon as you get your first pop-up, do not do anything else… open your control panel. If you don’t know how to open your control panel, check back in a week. That will probably be next week’s top question. In control panel, Click Programs and Features. You should get something like the picture in Figure 2014.02.05.1.

Program List

Figure 2014.02.05.1

Read the instructions in red on the figure… Correction… do the instructions in red on the Figure.

This is where this will get a little tricky if you don't know a lot about the programs you use. Uninstall the most recent programs as long as you don't recognize the name. If you are unsure, call me. Usually these are programs above the Adobe programs. Adobe is constantly updating. If there are no programs above the Adobe programs… like you see in my Figure… Look just below. Maybe they have been loaded for a day or two and you didn't notice. If nothing looks recent enough, then click the top of the name column to sort by name and start looking for “Toolbars” and “Search” programs. This can take a little more thinking, but if you like to live on the edge go for it.

Other than Google (and Norton if you have Norton Antivirus or McAfee if you use that), I uninstall everything that has Toolbar or Search in the name… Ask, Bing, Conduit (a really irritating one), Yahoo… everything that is not Google or Norton (McAfee). If you have Norton, then McAfee needs to be eliminated too. Norton and McAfee do not like each other. Adobe has been installing McAfee with it’s updates… You don’t need it if you have Norton... Adobe doesn't care.

If you get rid of all Toolbar and Search programs, then your computer is going to surf much smoother. If the pop-up is still bugging you, then you will have to pay me… I will warn you that Conduit also changes setting in your browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Chrome.) If you find Conduit on your PC, you will likely need to reset all of your setting in your browsers to completely eliminate all the damage it has done. If you don’t know how to do that and you don’t want to pay me to fix it, check back in a few weeks. I will probably be bored with that fix too;-)