Unwanted browser ads and pop-ups can be extremely annoying and even dangerous. These intrusive ads often bombard users with flashing graphics, auto-playing video and audio, and misleading claims about having “won” prizes or needing to “update software.” They can appear out of nowhere, sometimes covering the entire screen, and will not go away until clicked.
While the goal is to get users to engage with the ads by clicking, downloading, or sharing personal information, these pop-ups and ads frequently spread malware, collect data without consent, or scam users into paying for unnecessary services. Even just visiting a site that triggers one of these pop-ups can infect a device.
Fortunately, with some knowledge and the right tools, you can identify unwanted browser ads and pop-ups, prevent them from appearing, and remove any traces of malware. This guide will cover:
- What are unwanted browser ads and pop-ups?
- How they infect devices and trick users
- How to tell if your device is infected
- Removing pop-up malware and adware
- Preventing future infections
Equipped with the information below, you can browse the web safely and prevent unwanted ads and pop-ups from disrupting your experience.
This Article Contains:
What Are Unwanted Browser Ads and Pop-Ups?
Unwanted browser ads are marketing messages that show up in your web browser unsolicited. They include pop-up, pop-under, notification, and overlay ads:
1. Pop-Up Ads
Pop-up ads appear in new browser windows overlaid on top of the current window. They range from somewhat legitimate advertisements to full-page scams designed to get clicks and downloads. Even legal pop-up ads can be unexpected and annoying.
2. Pop-Under Ads
Pop-under ads open stealthily behind the current browser window. So when you close your current tab or browser, the pop-under appears on your screen. This sly method aims to get you to view the ad without realizing where it came from.
3. Notification Ads
Notification ads mimic browser or system notifications, using warnings about viruses or claiming you’ve won a prize. They trick users into clicking. Some even make a notification sound or cause other distractions.
4. Overlay Ads
Overlay ads appear directly over page content, either as you load a page or after a delay. Because they cover page content, they force you to acknowledge the ad before continuing to the page.
While not all pop-ups and ads have malicious intent, many unwanted ones promote dubious offers, collect data without consent, or spread malware. They are nuisances at best and can pose threats to your privacy and security.
How Unwanted Ads and Pop-Ups Infect Devices and Trick Users
Infection often starts with clicking a link or downloading a program that secretly installs adware – software that forcibly displays ads. Adware may also sneak onto devices as part of software bundles.
Once installed, adware changes browser settings and connects to advertising networks. It can inject code into pages or create new tabs and windows for ads. Adware may also install browser extensions, alter DNS settings, and make other changes to route browser traffic through ad networks.
Common Tricks Used by Unwanted Ads and Pop-Ups
While their end goal is getting clicks and downloads, unwanted ads and pop-ups use a variety of tricks and false claims to achieve it:
- “You’re infected – click here to scan.”
- “Your Flash player is out of date.”
- Fake browser notifications about viruses.
- Flashing graphics and countdown timers.
- “You won an iPhone!” Or similar false prizes.
- Claims you have a “secret admirer.”
- Your computer is “slow” and needs fixing.
These tactics aim to alarm users or make them curious enough to click on the ads. But engaging with these scammy ads and pop-ups will only lead to more unwanted content or malware.
Some pop-ups launch pages that won’t let you leave or close the tab until you click something. Others open infinite loops of new tabs to bombard you with more ads.
Unwanted pop-ups and ads may collect your IP address, browser history, and other system data. They can also drop tracking cookies on your device to follow you online. At their worst, they install keyloggers, rootkits, botnets, ransomware, and other malware.
How to Tell if Your Device is Infected with Adware or Malware from Pop-Ups
If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in pop-ups, annoying ads, and browser redirects, your device may be infected with adware or malware. Here are some signs your device has been infected:
- New tabs open to ads or random sites.
- Lots of pop-ups, pop-unders, and overlay ads appear.
- New browser extensions or toolbars you didn’t install.
- Homepage and search settings have changed unexpectedly.
- New, unknown programs running in the background.
- Sluggish browser performance.
- Problems shutting down browser windows and tabs.
Unwanted ads that cover your screen, redirect your browsing, or open infinitely are sure signs of adware infection or malware. If your usual sites suddenly bombard you with pop-ups and videos or prevent you from leaving, your device is infected.
You may also notice general system performance slowing down, more crashes, and strange activity in Task Manager. Keyloggers and botnets can cause typing lag, computer freezing, and data or bandwidth draining in the background.
How to Remove Adware and Malware Causing Unwanted Browser Pop-Ups
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubts at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.
- Remove Pop-up Viruses from Windows
- Remove Pop-up Viruses from Mac
- Remove Pop-up Viruses from Android
How to Prevent Unwanted Browser Pop-Ups and Ads in the Future
To avoid future infections, be cautious where you click and download from. Avoid free software bundles, ads, or pop-ups offering to scan your device or fix problems. Here are some other tips to prevent unwanted browser ads and pop-ups:
- Install browser pop-up blockers like AdGuard.
- Only download software from official company sites, never from ads.
- Hover over questionable links to inspect their domains before clicking.
- Clear cookies and site data regularly.
- Use antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware software.
- Make sure your operating system and security software is up-to-date.
- Reset your browser if lots of ads or pop-ups suddenly appear.
Being vigilant about scans and malware removal will also prevent future infections. Schedule regular antivirus scans. If your browser is constantly redirected or if scans find repeat infections, do a full reset or reinstall.
With attention and the right tools, you can browse safely without bombardment from unwanted browser ads and pop-ups.
The Bottom Line
Unwanted browser ads, pop-ups, redirects, and notifications should raise red flags. They disrupt your browsing experience while attempting to get clicks, downloads, and access to personal data and systems. But you can spot and remove the adware causing pop-ups using the steps here.
Reset browsers to factory settings, delete unknown programs, run antivirus scans, and be wary of scammy ads. Prevention is also key – avoid clicking questionable links and downloads. With vigilance and some best practices, you can keep your devices free of intrusive, malicious ads.
Careful browsing means you can focus on the content you want, without unexpected interruptions from unwanted browser ads and pop-ups.