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The Problem With Popup Blockers

I've worked in the IT field for over 35 years having worked with Sprint, IBM, & Boeing.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

I can only start this article by asking the rhetorical question - What Einstein came up with this lame brained idea? I don't fault the consumer who, on average doesn't recognize the total waste of money these products are, but with this article hope to enlighten you on why this is indeed the case.

First, for the newbie (computer speak for new computer user) who has just sat down to their new computer and never had the distaste of experiencing a popup, let's define what a popup is. When surfing (aka browsing or looking at Internet web sites) one's travels are likely to bring you to a web page that uses a popup window. This is where you have one window that you were looking at, and now another browser window appears with another web page. This page may be a direct result of you're clicking on a picture, button, or link and may be providing valuable and wanted information.

A few examples include clicking:

* a word on a page and getting the definition of it in a popup window.
* a link and getting a video clip in a new window with news or a movie preview.
* a picture and getting a bigger, clearer view of it.

Unfortunately advertising companies, hackers, virus writers, and other advantage takers have taken a benign and helpful tool and made it into a weapon of mass(media) destruction.

Now you can go almost anywhere and end up with a popup. Most search engines don't qualify web descriptions so even a porn site can describe itself as a cartoon site and suddenly you (or your children) are being bombarded with porn popups faster than you can close them out. Search engines are begining to prescreen sites for malicious code; i.e Google will now label such sites with 'This site may harm your computer' below the search result. Speaking of which NEVER click the X in the corner in an unwanted popup window.

How to stop popups?

Hold the ALT key down and tap the F4 key until all browser windows are closed. If you get one that won't close because the X is grayed out and you have to choose (usually) a Yes or NO...don't pick either. Hold your CTL and ALT keys down and press the DEL(ete) key once. Once Task Manager (this is all oriented to Windows users) is up right click one at a time on all IEXPLORE.exe processes on the process tab then select End Process Tree in the menu that displays.

The reason for not clicking the X is that a popup can be created without any window controls. This means no red X or square to minimize, maximize, restore, or close a window. If one can program a window with no controls, they can create web controls that the X equates to a yes install that virus, spyware, or other bad software on my PC.

So many of you are smugly thinking, I don't have to worry one bit. I bought this cheap popup blocker for only $29 and haven't had a popup since. Well you may think that is the end of your problems, but actually it is only the beginning. Popup blockers only block, or prevent you from seeing popups, and have the potential to block wanted popup windows.

So instead of dealing with popups, you deal with training the blocker to allow the sites you do want. Blockers are like taking pain pills so you won't feel pain. The problem is your pain is a sign of a larger problem that the blocker only masks.

See, most popups are an indication that you have spyware, a virus, or on a rare occaision a hacker. The spyware generates the popups and downloads other spyware to increase the advertsising rate. A blocker doesn't prevent the activity, but only prevents you from being bothered with it.

So isn't that what you wanted? Not to be bothered with the popups? Not exactly. Your computer has limited resources in hard drive space and memory. Even though you aren't bothered with the ads, the blocker, the spyware, the viruses, are all using your memory in their steel cage match, winner takes all event until your PC is so slow you have to get it cleaned by a professional, reloaded by a lazy computer store, or give up and buy a new PC.

The only real way to prevent popups is to keep your computer updated and clean of viruses and spyware. Then avoid high risk areas of the Internet like off-shore casinos and porn sites. Medium risk sites like music downloading and sharing sites and certain online gamming communities are also risky. Finally, use the tip provided to quickly end the popups as they start.

So you and your computer are Peter being robbed by the Pauls (blocker companies) to pay themselves in this analogy. Paul is no saint, and provides you only a temporary reprieve from the actual problem. Treat the cause and not the symptom, or let an experienced thorough technician help you.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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