Pop-up Stoppers

Article ID       :  tn100100

Last Review    : March 2005

Revision           : 1.0


I get many questions regarding “Pop-Ups”.  How do you stop them?  How do you get rid of them?  Where do they come from?  What’s the best “Pop Up Stopper”?

First of all, I’d like to say that I do not recommend the use of “Pop Up Stopping” software, and I’ll try to defend that statement in a second by describing how and why they work.  But if you absolutely feel you need to use one, the one that seems to be doing the best job is one called “Pop Up Stopper Pro”.  You can download this program from the following site:  www.download.com.  This site is part of CNet and can be trusted to have virus free software.

So what is a “Pop Up”?  Well, just as is sounds, it is a screen that Pops-up while you’re online.  These screens usually are trying to sell you something, either a product or service. They become quite annoying when you’re trying to do something on-line and have to keep stopping to close these windows down as they pop-up.  Many online banking sites and other types of service-orientated sites will use "Pop-up” windows to either get information from you or give information you are looking for.  This is one reason why so many people get aggravated with Pop Up Stopping software, because things they want to pop up get stopped too.

How does Pop Up Stopping Software Work?  I’m so glad you asked… Let me give you a small illustration to help you to understand what a Pop Up Stopper is doing.  This will require you to use your imagination for a minute.  Now just pretend for a second that you have a major cut on your arm, it’s pretty deep, blood is running down and dripping on the floor; keep in mind we’re just pretending now, it’s not real, if however, you really do have a major cut on your arm, stop reading this and seek medical help immediately.  Back to our illustration, pretend your arm is cut.  Now you can’t stand the sight of blood, so what you do is take your other hand and you cover your eyes so you can’t see the cut on your arm.  Now you feel better about the whole thing because you can’t see the cut.  Well, after a while like this, you realize that you need to do something else, because the cut on your arm is causing more problems, even though you can’t see it.  So you go to the doctor and get it taken care of; problem fixed.  A week later you notice that once again you have a cut on your arm, blood everywhere, you get the picture.  You put your hand over your eyes so you can’t see it, and then go to the doctor and get it fixed again.  Now you start to realize that something is causing this to happen, so you start to look around to figure out what is going on.  You discover your spouse with a pair of bloody scissors in their hand and then all of a sudden you realize what’s been going on.  You take the scissors away and low and behold your problem is fixed.  Now, think about this illustration.  The cut on your arm represents the ad that pops up on your screen.  And you probably already guessed, your hand is the Pop Up Stopper software that keeps you from seeing the pop up ad.  This should give a pretty good picture for you to realize that software just keeps you from seeing the pop up, it doesn’t eliminate it from your PC.  Eventually what is causing the pop ups will cause more problems, such as a system slow-down, dropping off line, unreachable web sites, and other problems of this type.

How does a Pop Up Work?  Good question. . . .  There are 2 types of pop ups.  The first type is the type your online banking site will use.  It is a pop up screen, generated by a web site coding, designed to either get information from you or give information to you.  Such as a screen from your banking site that asks for your name and password, and maybe a help type screen to explain to you how to do something.  These are pop ups, however, they are good pop ups that you really want to make sure you see.  The other type of pop ups are the type generated by an “advertising server” and sent to your screen no matter what page you're looking at.  These are the types of pop ups that aggravate people and these are the types we want to eliminate.  First you need to realize that the advertising server, which generates the pop up, cannot just “throw” the ads at your system and have them pop up, that’s not how this works.  The ad server needs to have something in your system they can “reach in” and “grab” a hold of.  Once they have established this connection, they can feed the ads down this pipeline into your system and pop them up on your screen.  What the ad server needs to have in your system is a file, called a BOT file.  The name BOT comes from the term “virtual robot” which describes what the file does.  Once the BOT files are in your system, the ad servers can then “grab” a hold of your system and feed you the pop ups.  If you have Pop Up Stopping software running, you won’t see the pop ups on your screen, however, you will still have the BOT files in your system.  The ad servers will still be connecting to you and feeding the pop up ads down the pipeline. Your system will still be slowing down as all these activities are going on behind the scenes.  And you can be sitting on your computers continuing to work just like everything is fine, because you don’t “see” it happening.

What is the best thing to do?  First you need to get a good cleaner to remove the BOT files from your system.  Now a BOT file is not a virus, so your virus scan will not touch them.  I recommend two programs that can both be downloaded from www.download.com.  The first one is call “Ad-Aware ”.  Once you have installed Ad Aware be sure to run the update so that you will be scanning for all of the latest ad related BOT files.  Ad Aware will identify the ad related BOT files on your system and allow you to delete them.  I recommend letting the program deal with anything it identifies, don’t try to second-guess it.  After cleaning your system of all ad related BOT files, your advertising pop ups should be drastically reduced if not eliminated.  You will probably need to run this every couple of weeks to keep your system clean.  The second file I recommend downloading and running is called “Spybot - Search & Destroy”.  This program works similar to Ad Aware, only it identifies and deals with the BOT files that are know as “Spy Ware” which I will talk about in another post.

How do I get BOT files in the first place?  BOT files will download themselves from emails or websites, which display certain banner advertising.  This doesn’t mean that banner advertising is bad, not all banners drop BOT files, but many do.  So as you visit different sites, the banner advertising will drop a BOT file on your system to identify you as someone who has seen then banner.  The ad server then takes it from there.  What you need to do, is start identifying the different sites that have banners that drop BOTS.   Then you either can avoid those sites, or make sure you clean your system after visiting those sites.



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