Have you ever found your Web browser loaded with mysterious toolbars out of the blue, and wondered where they came from?
I see this all the time. One day someone’s browser is humming along as always, and the next it’s saddled with a bunch of weird toolbars they didn’t ask for and don’t want.
Spyware is one possible culprit. If you suddenly encounter a toolbar called Super Internet Search or something equally fishy, it probably got there by way of a drive-by download (spyware that broke in when you visited a tainted site) or some other kind of infection. Scan the PC promptly with a good antimalware tool–and whatever you do, don’t use any of the toolbar’s buttons or its search box.
Another possible culprit: you. Many freeware, shareware, and even commercial programs try to slip in a browser toolbar during installation; and if you’re not paying attention, you might click right past the setup screen that lets you opt out. For example, when you install a Java update, you’ll end up with the Yahoo Toolbar unless you uncheck a box along the way. That particular toolbar isn’t spyware, and you can easily uninstall it–but it’s still an unwanted addition to your browser. Bad developers, bad!
(For more solutions to perplexing PC problems, see “The 21 Greatest PC Mysteries–Solved!“)