Best Pop-up Blockers

If you surf the internet, you have encountered dreaded pop-ups. You run across a fun new website and your screen is suddenly presented with pop-up windows advertising products and services from various internet companies. Perhaps you only get a few windows, or maybe your screen is bombarded with pop-ups. Marketing firms will tell you that these advertisements are more effective than static banners and they have a higher conversion rate. While there is some truth to those claims, some pop-ups are much more than meets the eye.

Many pop-ups are designed with extensive sound and graphical elements that are so dynamic they serve as a distraction to the web surfer, making it difficult for them to navigate through the website. When you close one, here comes another, and another. Worst of all, some of these seemingly innocent pop-ups contain links to malicious sites where malware writers will attempt to infect your computer with viruses or spyware.

The Solution for Pop-Ups

The first pop-up blockers appeared online in the late 1990s. Around that time, the most popular solution was a program called PopUp Killer, developed by Xaxier Flix. Today's internet has seen pop-up blockers integrated into web browsers, commercial products and free programs as well. While some are more effective than others, all will help to significantly reduce the unwanted clutter in your browser window.

Javascript is the programming used to create most pop-up ads. When accessing a web page that has them embedded, the advertisements are activated as your browser loads the web page. The pop-up code can be found within the programming code for the actual web page. Pop-up blockers are designed to scan the web page for that source code, searching for patterns of any program instructing your web browser to open new windows. If such a code is found, the pop-up blocker deactivates the command, thus resulting in no pop-ups on your screen.

There are different kinds of pop-ups and not all are displayed when a web page opens. Code can also be activated when clicking on a link or when scrolling over an activation trigger on the page. A quality pop-up blocker should be able to detect these codes as well, though even some of the best fail to do so. With your program enabled, you may notice a pop-up appear quickly and disappear just as fast. This indicates action of the pop-up blocker detecting code right after it was activated and then immediately disabled it.

Disadvantages of Pop Up Blockers

Pop-up blockers offer many benefits but there are some disadvantages. For instance, some sites program pages to use the same window to open a new browser window. Instead of hiding an annoying or potentially malicious pop-up, this window may actually contain useful information. Some online retailers use pop-ups to display close-up views of their products. Others use them so that visitors can fill out surveys and other forms. The basic pop-up blocker might not be able to differentiate between those helpful windows and the intrusive ones you're looking to avoid.

The good thing is that most solutions have a number of options that allow you to configure pop-ups according to your personal preference. Some make suggestions and also let you determine which sites contain safe pop-ups. Once you have deemed a site as safe, the program will no longer automatically seek out and disable that code. Other programs might call for you to completely disable the blocking function before viewing any useful pop-ups. If this is the case, be sure that you remember to enable the blocker or you'll be faced with the same problem all over again


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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser