Subscriber Russ Alor wrote me recently about popup problems:
I have been very satisfied with my virus protections but still struggle with
pop-ups even when Google has implied “protection” running.
Is there available a popup guard?
I wrote back to say that I’m assuming he meant popups from specific web sites. In that case, he needs to try a different popup blocker.
On the other hand, if you’re having popups when using the Internet as a routine issue, you might have an adware problem. I suggest trying the 30-day free trial of CounterSpy — the trial is full-function, not cripple-ware, or VIPRE Antivirus Premium, which includes antivirus, the antispyware functions from CounterSpy and the firewall from Sunbelt Personal Firewall — and it works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
Wait a minute — I recommend VIPRE Antispyware Premium, period, because of its performance and its always-running control of adware and spyware. I use it on my computers. Give it a try. If you don’t like it, don’t buy a license . I also like the their firewall Sunbelt Personal Firewall which is also $19.95, but it doesn’t work with Windows 7 or 64-bit versions of Windows.
Back to the popups, do you mean you’re running the Google Toolbar in Internet Explorer, with the Google Toolbar’s popup blocker turned on? Other than that, I don’t know what you mean by the phrase “Google has implied ‘protection’ running.”
Here’s what the Google Toolbar’s Options should look like if you have its popup blocker turned on (I.E. version):
Prior to XP Service Pack 2 (which I hope you’re using), IE did not have a built-in popup blocker. Even with SP2, the built-in one isn’t that good.
If you are running IE, give Firefox a try. It’s built-in popup blocker — and the Google Toolbar already installed — are available from the same page at my site. I use Firefox for almost all my web surfing — and tend to avoid sites that only talk to IE — and there are not many of them (other than Microsoft’s Windows Updates, etc.)
Russ mentioned that he was running a software firewall program even though he was behind a router, and he wondered if it was necessary. My answer is "Yes!" and I referred him to my article Do I Need a Firewall Program?
He confirmed that he was already running the Google Toolbar and that it was blocking popups, but that he was still getting a lot of them. He also mentioned that he was running Windows 2000 Professional. At this point, I suspected an adware problem, so it was back to the anti-adware/anti-spyware subject. I wrote back:
What anti-spyware program are you running?
Is it one that scans all the time, or just when you manually run it? You need one that runs all the time, especially if you’re running any version of Windows before WinXP SP2.
Since you’re running Windows 2000 Professional, you do not have the IE that is only available to XP Service Pack 2. That is a VERY important update to Internet Explorer.
The XP SP2 version of IE, which is not available for any other version of Windows, is the only one which will NOT AUTOMATICALLY download ActiveX controls from web sites.
If you go to a web site that wants to download an Active-X “control” (Microsoft’s low-balling word for PROGRAM!), with Win2000Pro, YOU’VE BEEN HAD — and not kissed, either.
ActiveX is the way most adware installs onto your system. You go to a web site, it sends you an ActiveX control that is a “downloader” — its only purpose is to download and install anything that the bad guys want to install — popup programs, spyware, porn servers, spam spewers.
- stop using IE except on web sites that will not work with anything but IE.
- on sites in item 1, reconsider if you really want to visit those sites
- update to Internet Explorer 7 for any sites you really want to visit using IE
- use Firefox for your regular web surfing everywhere but Microsoft.com
- download and try the 30-day free, full-function trial of CounterSpy.
I suspect that you have a good case of Adware generating your popups.