Troubleshooting: I’m getting advertisements on my computer

There are different ways advertisements can be shown on a computer.

When you are on a website, there may be advertisements embedded in the website. We call these banner ads. A website may also pop-up a separate window with an ad in it as well. This ad may pop-up on top of the main window so you see it right away, or underneath it so that you don’t see it until you close your web browser. We call these pop-up ads.

When you are not accessing a website, if windows pop-up with ads or if it magically opens your web browser to show an advertisement, then your computer is infected with ad-ware.

Let’s address each type one at a time. Let’s start with pop-up ads. Remember, these are the ads from websites that pop-up in a separate window. All popular web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera) have pop-up blockers built-in to them and, by default, the pop-up blocker is turned on. The pop-up blocker can sometimes interfere with the normal operation of a website, but not very often. These pop-up blockers are pretty good at blocking pop-up windows, but they aren’t perfect. If you are getting a lot of pop-up ads on your computer, the pop-up blocker built-in to your browser may be turned off. There are so many web browsers and different versions of web browsers we can’t give you instructions for how to access the pop-up blocker on every one of them, but here are brief instructions for a few of the more popular ones.

  • Internet Explorer
    On the command bar, click on tools, pop-up blocker, turn on pop-up blocker
  • Firefox
    Click on the menu button and then options. Click on the content tab and put a check mark next to “Block pop-up windows”
  • Chrome
    Click the menu button, settings. Scroll down and click on advanced settings. Under privacy, click on content settings. Scroll down to the pop-ups section and click on the radio button to select “Do not allow any site to show pop-ups”.

Banner advertisements on websites are a little more complicated. Most of these advertisements are perfectly safe and legitimate. However, some of them can be conduits for infections. Another complication is that many websites make their money from advertisements. If you block them, they may not appreciate it. But these types of advertisements also slow down the loading of a web page. If you want to block these types of advertisements, you’ll have to install an add-on into your web browser called Adblock Plus. To do that, point your browser to www.adblockplus.org and click on the big green button to download and install Adblock Plus. Be aware that Adblock Plus can interfere with the normal operation of some websites. If you encounter that situation, simply disable Adblock Plus for that website by click on the AdBlock Plus icon which is a red stopsign with ABP in the middle.

The last type of advertisements that can pop-up on your computer are those generated by ad-ware. Ad-ware is a category of malware (Malicious Software). Basically, it’s an infection kind of like a virus, only unlike a virus, it’s goal isn’t to harm your computer. It’s goal is to show advertisements to get you to buy stuff. If you have these types of ads popping up, your computer is infected. You can try scanning with your security software, but if your computer is infected like this, your security software didn’t prevent it and probably can’t remove it. You can try programs like MalWareBytes to try and clean off the infections, but many of these types of infections are difficult to remove and you’ll probably need to give us a call so we can disinfect your computer for you.

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