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Pop-up ads. How to remove? (Uninstall guide)

removal by Olivia Morelli - - | Type: Adware

Internet pop-up ads are more than just commercial offers

Examples of Pop-up ads

Pop-up ads is the term used to characterize online advertisements of different websites. Their primary purpose is to persuade users into visiting specific websites or purchasing particular goods. Such advertising form was invented in the 1990s by Ethan Zuckerman[1], who later apologized for laying the ground for one of today's biggest Internet's nuisances.

Pop-up ads can seem to be interesting and useful; however, they can also be highly dangerous and infect the computer system with malware[2] as soon as the victim clicks on the ad. In the majority of cases, annoying popups bother computer users that unwillingly install adware programs. One of the most efficient way to cease the emergence of such commercial offers is to scan the PC with Reimage or other pop up remover.

The alerts containing some promotional content are typically opened in individual browser windows that appear on top of the active browser window or under it (these are called pop-under ads). The described advertising form was eventually adapted and used across various platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, and Android[3]. Nowadays, these adverts can appear not only on computer screens but on smartphones as well.

Why do pop up ads keep appearing?

If you have been bothered by unwanted pop-up ads, you should know that your computer is infected. Typically, reappearing popups appear due to adware, browser hijackers and similar PUPs, for example, Linkey, Offers4U, DNS Unlocker, Tech Support Scam virus and other suspicious software.

As soon as such program enters your computer, it hijacks every web browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.). After doing so, it starts tracking you to get more information about your browsing habits.

To do so, programs that hide behind unwanted pop-up ads employ tracking technologies, including cookies and web beacons. They store information about victim's browsing history, the list of search queries, frequently visited websites, ads and URLs clicked, time spent on particular sites, products viewed, and even IP address.

The majority of ad-supported programs promise to collect only personally non-identifiable data, although some pieces of data they collect (such as search queries) can contain personally identifiable information (PII). Some adware programs clearly disclose such fact in their Privacy Policy documents.

These potentially unwanted programs also claim to be collecting PII, but only “in case the user willingly provides it.” Such information is valuable and can be easily misused. The main reason to collect such data is to use it for market research and customization of ads.

You need to remove this related software to get rid of fake pop-up ads on your web browser. However, sometimes it takes more than that because some of PUP variants tend to change proxy settings and add wpad.dat files to keep serving sponsored content on victim's computer.

Types of unwanted pop-up ads

  • Pop-ups caused by adware 

Annoying commercial offers appearing in new browser windows are most frequently sent by ad-supported programs that usually get into the computer system alongside other free software that the user willingly installs. However, such software bundles tend not to disclose the presence of additional software in a direct way.

Agreements to install such programs typically hide in Default/Standard settings which look trustworthy for many people. Once installed, ad-supported parasites add specific browser extensions to all web browsers or even modify browser shortcuts to serve ads via them. Some adware programs are easy to remove, and others tend to root deeply in the system. Currently, the most prevalent adware programs that keep bothering computer users are DNS Unlocker, QKSee, or YeaPlayer.

Recently, many users started complaining about annoying Russian ads appearing on websites that target English-speaking audience. In such case, it is obvious that such ads are bad and they do not originate from websites that the user visits, however, it can be harder to understand when ads caused by adware are provided in victim's native language or English.

To block annoying advertisements, usually, it is enough to run a system scan with anti-malware software like Reimage. Most of the ad-supported programs can be deleted manually quite easily as well. However, some adware programs come in a bundle with browser hijackers, and in such situations, we usually advise choosing automatic spyware removal option to save time.

  • Pop-ups caused by tech support scam viruses

Tech support scammers have recently adapted a new technique to swindle money from unsuspecting victims more efficiently. Although earlier they used to call victims themselves, now they decided to upgrade their tricks and use malware to convince computer users to call them. On top of that, scammers continuously create new phishing websites[4] and make them look like Microsoft's support page just to trick the victim into calling them.

Tech support scams aim to convey a sense of urgency by opening new browser windows and displaying ads that suggest calling “certified Microsoft technicians” as soon as possible due to bogus reasons such as “suspicious activity on the computer was detected” or “Windows detected ZEUS virus” and similar. The victim can receive these pop-ups alerts if an associated adware is installed on the system, or simply after clicking on a fraudulent link while scrolling through insecure web pages. The described malware can infect both Windows, Mac and Android OS.

  • Pop-ups caused by ransomware

Although ransomware viruses typically display full-screen program windows that block access to the computer, there are ransomware viruses that employ victim's web browsers to display numerous notifications asking to pay a ransom to regain access to the PC.

One of the most prevalent examples of such virus is FBI ransomware, which primarily targets Mac OS, while there are versions for Windows and Android users as well. Such viruses typically prevent the user from closing annoying alerts that appear via a web browser.

Questions about Pop-up ads

Such ransomware viruses hardly ever encrypt files; therefore they are not as dangerous. However, described malware often accuses the victim of violating certain laws, for instance, copyright infringements or watching illegal adult content, and demands a “fine,” which, if paid on time, allegedly drops the charges. Described viruses usually demand a ransom paid via pre-paid cards such as MoneyPak or Ukash. In case your computer displays such notifications, use anti-malware for pop-up ads removal.

Pop-up ads can also threaten your privacy

No matter how harmless different pop-ups seem, they can also threaten your privacy. This is done by asking people to provide their email address and similar information in exchange for discounts. Here, we have to warn you that such pop up ads seem to be very useful and can be filled with huge discounts and price comparisons.

Probably the most dangerous pop-up ads suggest installing fake Java or Flash updates.[5] Such ads are usually filled with stolen logos (for example, Adobe or others), convincing pictures and similar things. If you have any doubts, go to the official website of the program to see what updates you need. NEVER trust ads that came out of nowhere because the most of them are used to infect people with malware or redirect them to malicious websites.

Finally, the PUP which launches pop-up ads can easily slow down the work of your computer and can also make each of your web browsers run slower than ever. If you have already noticed annoying pop-up ads that are appearing on each of your web browsers without a break, you should waste no more time and scan your computer with a reputable anti-spyware, such as Reimage.

Ways to prevent pop-up ads from appearing

If you want to avoid pop-up ads, you need to stay away from adware triggering these ads. Typically, it infiltrates the system via the technique called “bundling.” This method facilitates developers of various freeware (download managers, PDF creators, video streaming software, video recording software, etc.) to earn money by promoting questionable browser add-ons, extensions, plugins, toolbars and similar applications.

Some users believe that all ads can be blocked with programs like AdBlocker. However, in most cases, these annoying virtual parasites are sneaky enough to bypass AdBlocker restrictions. If you want to avoid pop ups, here is what you have to remember:

  • Before installing a program, read what is said in its Privacy Policy and End User's License Agreement. If there is something about third party content, advertising, collecting of your browsing information, etc., you should cancel the installation.
  • Opt for Custom or Advanced installation option to get ability to see optional components. Here, you should uncheck all pre-checked check marks that allow installation of questionable browser add-ons, extensions, plugins and toolbars.
  • After selecting Custom or Advanced installation, you should also stay away from offers to change your start page or the default search engine.

How to remove pop-up ads completely?

Once you notice pop-up ads, look for the responsible application. Check the system for some sponsored application that you installed for trying to save some dollars while shopping online. Hardly ever such apps are useful. Despite their claims to improve your searches, they almost never deliver useful or money-saving deals. 

Bear in mind modern programs are actively promoted on the Internet with a help of suspicious distribution techniques, so there is no surprise that your computer has been hijacked by one of them. Fortunately, it's not hard to get rid of annoying ads and related adware, especially if you have the effective pop up ad remover on your computer.

Next, you should check your Internet Explorer, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Chrome. For that, you just need to scan your computer with one of a malware elimination utility. You can also combine it manual pop-up ads removal instructions. They will help you eliminate web scripts associated with the adware. 

You can remove virus damage automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, Malwarebytes MalwarebytesCombo Cleaner, Plumbytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes Malwarebytes. We recommend these applications because they detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

To remove Pop-up ads, follow these steps:

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Get rid of Pop-up from Windows systems

Carefully study the instructions provided below as they are designed to help you to delete pop-up ads virus manually. Uninstall every program that was added to your currently installed programs' list without your consent. Then, fix affected browser shortcuts according to the provided example.

  1. Click Start Control Panel Programs and Features (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs). Click 'Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features' (if you are 'Windows XP' user, click on 'Add/Remove Programs').
  2. If you are Windows 10 / Windows 8 user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once Quick Access Menu shows up, select Control Panel and Uninstall a Program. If you are 'Windows 10 / Windows 8' user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once 'Quick Access Menu' shows up, select 'Control Panel' and 'Uninstall a Program'.
  3. Uninstall Pop-up and related programs
    Here, look for Pop-up or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  4. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Erase Pop-up from Mac OS X system

Delete every suspicious Mac application using instructions we provided.

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for Pop-up or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Eliminate Pop-up from Internet Explorer (IE)

  1. Remove dangerous add-ons
    Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top right corner of the browser and choose Manage Add-ons. Click on menu icon and select 'Manage add-ons'
  2. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for Pop-up and other suspicious plugins. Disable these entries by clicking Disable: Right click on each of malicious entries and select 'Disable'
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the gear icon (menu) on the top right corner of the browser and select Internet Options. Stay in General tab.
  4. Here, remove malicious URL and enter preferable domain name. Click Apply to save changes. Delete malicious URL, enter your desired domain name and click 'Apply' to save changes
  5. Reset Internet Explorer
    Click on the gear icon (menu) again and select Internet options. Go to Advanced tab.
  6. Here, select Reset.
  7. When in the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete Pop-up removal. Go to 'Advanced' tab and click on 'Reset' button. Now select 'Delete personal settings' and click on 'Reset' button again
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Uninstall Pop-up ads from Microsoft Edge

Reset Microsoft Edge settings (Method 1):

  1. Launch Microsoft Edge app and click More (three dots at the top right corner of the screen).
  2. Click Settings to open more options.
  3. Once Settings window shows up, click Choose what to clear button under Clear browsing data option. Go to Settings and select 'Choose what to clear'
  4. Here, select all what you want to remove and click Clear. Select 'Clear' button
  5. Now you should right-click on the Start button (Windows logo). Here, select Task Manager. Open the start menu and select 'Task Manager'
  6. When in Processes tab, search for Microsoft Edge.
  7. Right-click on it and choose Go to details option. If can’t see Go to details option, click More details and repeat previous steps. Right-click 'Microsoft Edge' and select 'Go to details' Select 'More details' if 'Go to details' option fails to show up
  8. When Details tab shows up, find every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right click on each of them and select End Task to end these entries. Find Microsoft Edge entries and select 'End Task'

Resetting Microsoft Edge browser (Method 2):

If Method 1 failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method.

  1. Note: you need to backup your data before using this method.
  2. Find this folder on your computer: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  3. Select every entry which is saved on it and right click with your mouse. Then Delete option. Go to Microsoft Edge folder on your computer, right-click every entry and click 'Delete'
  4. Click the Start button (Windows logo) and type in window power in Search my stuff line.
  5. Right-click the Windows PowerShell entry and choose Run as administrator. Find Windows PowerShell, right-click it and select 'Run as administrator'
  6. Once Administrator: Windows PowerShell window shows up, paste this command line after PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> and press Enter:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml -Verbose}
    Copy and paste a required command and press 'Enter'

Once these steps are finished, Pop-up should be removed from your Microsoft Edge browser.

WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Delete Pop-up from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

To complete the removal of annoying adware program or another pest that hijacked Firefox without your permission, carry out instructions given below.

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Mozilla Firefox, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Add-ons Extensions. Click on menu icon and select 'Add-ons'
  2. Here, select Pop-up and other questionable plugins. Click Remove to delete these entries. Select 'Extensions' and look for malicious entries. Click 'Remove' to get rid of each of them
  3. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    Click on the Firefox menu on the top left and click on the question mark. Here, choose Troubleshooting Information. Click on menu icon and then on '?'. Select 'Troubleshooting Information'
  4. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete Pop-up removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Remove Pop-up from Google Chrome

Access Chrome Extensions panel to delete suspicious components added by adware or other dangerous programs. You might need to reset Chrome browser to finish the removal.

  1. Delete malicious plugins
    Open Google Chrome, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Tools Extensions. Click on menu icon. Select 'Tools' and 'Extensions'
  2. Here, select Pop-up and other malicious plugins and select trash icon to delete these entries. Look for malicious entries and delete each of them by clicking on the Trash bin icon
  3. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  4. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  5. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  6. Scroll down to the end of the page and click on Reset browser settings. When in 'Settings', scroll down to 'Reset browser settings' button and click on it
  7. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete Pop-up removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal
WindowsMac OS XInternet ExplorerMicrosoft EdgeFirefoxGoogle ChromeSafari

Get rid of Pop-up from Safari

Clean Safari by deleting extensions that are not supposed to be in it.

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for Pop-up or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  4. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete Pop-up removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

About the author

Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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