Unwanted Windows Pop-Ups

As if the annoyance of unwanted "pop-up" windows on web sites wasn't bad enough, more users are complaining about unwanted "pop-up" messages on their Window's desktop, even when they do not have a browser running and are not viewing a Web site.

What causes this unwanted intrusion is usually an abuse of the "Messenger" service that is built into the operating system. This is not to be confused with the popular Windows Messenger instant-messaging program that so many people use. Instead, the operating system's Messenger is designed for communicating within a network, such as an office environment, as opposed to sending messages through the Internet.

Regardless of what it was designed for, it is more and more often used to perpetrate a new form of "desktop" SPAM.

On the other hand, such unwanted pop-ups can also be caused by "spy ware" that has been downloaded and installed on your computer, usually by the users themselves.

Often, when a web site offers a "free" download or service that asks for permission to install a helper utility, what's often being installed is software that allows the site to monitor your activities and to send advertisements directly to your desktop.

Regardless of the source of the unwanted pop-ups, the solutions are fairly simple. If this problem affects you, then try the following suggestions in order. Wait a few days after applying each one, to see if the problem is solved.

  1. Install a firewall, either hardware or software. Windows XP users can simple activate the firewall that is built into XP itself. (Search for "Internet Connection Firewall" in Window's Help).
  2. Download software designed to scan for and remove spy-ware software installed on your system. Popular programs such as Ad-Aware - http://www.lavasoftusa.com are fairly simple to use and will catch the most common offenders.
  3. If either of the first two suggestions don't do the trick, then consider disabling the "messenger" services on your computer (again, not the Window's Messenger IM software). Open your Control Panel, then choose Administrative Tools, and then Services. From here, double-click on "Messenger" and click Stop. Finally, set the "Startup Type" to "Manual" and you're done.

To protect your privacy into the future, be very cautious when downloading free utilities and application helpers from web sites that you cannot absolutely trust. When in doubt, simply decline the offer.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale