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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Web Browser Toolbars: How and why to remove them

Internet browser toolbars are present on almost every computer. They are quarter-inch wide strips that run across the top of your internet browser window - Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, etc. These browser plug-ins typically provide a search window and several quick access icons. Here is a screen shot of three of the most common toolbars at work - Yahoo, Google and Bing:


Most computer users do not know how they acquired the browser toolbars to begin with. Nor do they realize the risk in computing performance and security that they pose. While a few toolbars may provide some benefit, for the most part, toolbars are a nuisance. They exist almost exclusively to advertise for the creators of the toolbars. When a toolbar search window or icon is clicked, the makers of the toolbar earn income through a referral mechanism - and this is done at the expense of the computer user’s time and PC performance! Therefore, my recommendation is that computer users get rid of toolbars... ALL of them.

Here are more specific reasons for removing them:
  1. They probably got installed unconsciously. In other words, you did not intentionally choose to install the toolbars in the first place. They just "showed up," or came with other software.
  2. They take up valuable screen space for viewing websites. Each toolbar installed pushes your viewable screen down further, leaving you with less space to view web pages.
  3. They steal internet bandwidth while you are online trying to do something else, because many of them are busy uploading information about you to a third party, such as marketing interests. Thus, they steal both computer performance and personal privacy.
  4. In the worst case, they can be a conduit for viruses that are more malicious. By definition, they create security holes in your internet connection as they send off info about you to other places. Thus, some toolbars are actually considered to be viruses by some anti-virus programs!
  5. They provide search windows that are unnecessary, since most browsers already provide a quick-access search window built into the interface of the browser.
  6. They sometimes run stealth operations that steer you to web pages that the toolbar authors want rather than web pages you want.

Here are some of the most common toolbars that get installed into browsers:

AIM Flickr Shop at Home
Alexa Frostwire Simppull
A lot Fun Web Products Stumble
AOL (America Online) Google Swagbucks
Ask Limewire Total Recipe Search
Bing Media Monkey Weather Channel
Community MSN Weatherbug
Cool Web Search My Way Web Crawler
Coupons.com My Web Search Winamp
Crawler Radio.com Yahoo
Dealio RetailMeNot Zynga
DivX Search  

The best way to get rid of browser toolbars is to uninstall them, cleanly. In other words, don’t merely disable them within the browser, itself. The toolbar may come back, and it may still be active behind the scenes. Once you start to investigate, you may be surprised at how many toolbars are installed on your PC! Here’s how to get rid of them:

  • To remove toolbars from Windows XP, navigate to the Control Panel and start the "Add or Remove Programs" utility. Scroll down the list of programs to find the toolbars you want to remove. Click once on the program to highlight it, then click on the "Remove" button that appears in the highlighted strip.
  • To remove toolbars from Windows Vista and Windows 7, simply click the "Start" button, then "Computer" in the right panel of the Startup menu. Next, click "Uninstall or change a program" in the menu bar. Scroll down the list of programs to find the toolbars you want to remove. Click once on the program to highlight it, then click the "Remove" button at the top.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

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