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Beware of Toolbars while freeware Installations

April 15, 2011  by: S. Chowdhury  Points: 12   Category: Software  Earning $1.00   Views: 1166

Lots of freeware on Internet nowadays are adding other associated software while installation, with or without the knowledge of the user. Some of those software are toolbars that pose threats and inconveniences of their own.


On the Internet lots of freeware are to be found and many of them are pretty useful. For example the 'CCleaner' from Piriform.com is an awesome freeware and one of the best. Also many software have both free, paid and trial versions and in some of them the free versions are quite good. In fact to be exact some free versions are better than a few paid versions elsewhere. For example, the free version of the anti-virus Avast is better than many paid anti-viruses. Also the free version of 'Advance System Care' is quite awesome.

Other than those freeware that help maintain the computer there are host of other freeware like games, video downloading, image resizing, movie playing, etc. Like the system maintaining ones many of them are good and others not so good. So one should be cautious about choosing a freeware and study the reviews and search pages, as well as a few expert opinions if possible before downloading such things as many of them has been found to contain either malware, adware or spyware.

Talking about the good ones, as an Internet user I cannot thank sufficiently the makers of such freeware, since those have become a real boon of sorts and helped maintain the computer smoothly while enriching the experience of other online or offline activities. Many of these people request users to donate money to support the development of the software, but I really don't know how many does that. Therefore they use other ways of earning for carrying on the developmental work.

Personally speaking since I am unable to donate money because of financial constraints so I am eager to help in any other way I can. These techies partner or associate with other sites to allow the download of such software and also to include other software like web browser, search options, toolbars, etc. while installation and earn from those. I don't know how much those would add up to in terms of earnings as no such concrete data is available on Internet or at least I didn't come across. This is where I'd like to help with downloading other associated software along with the freeware, if those are not paid options.

Even a few years ago such available options were hardly visible, but now I find with almost every freeware comes quite a few of other associated software and if you are not careful while installation in selecting the right boxes and available options then you might find your desktop filled with applications you have no idea where they came from and if those bring virus or malicious software with it then you'd certainly have your hands full! So pay attention at the time of installing such software and carefully observe every step of the way. After suffering earlier now I observe closely, still the odd one sneak through; that is the way they disguise such installations.

When I observe such associated software while installation I consider first of all, do I need this software? How much exactly do I need it? Is it safe? Then I decide. If I find that the software is a good one after studying the reviews and searches and it could really add value to my total set-up then I certainly download it and install it. But if I don't feel safe and satisfied with such software then I don't download it and carefully tick out the boxes and options. One such thing that I am not all satisfied or secure about are toolbars. Time and again I had ended up with a lot of trouble because of toolbars and continue to do still if one pesky little thing sneak through without knowledge.

One Such Pesky Toolbar

First of all I'd begin with saying that not all toolbars are pesky and some can be of great value and reduce the time of accessing a site considerably along with several other numerous beneficial features. To give an example, I don't think probably there are many better examples than the Google toolbar. You can line up items as per your needs and surfing habits and go there with just a click. It's that simple! Also the amount of information you can get out of just one such toolbar is awesome. But sadly not all are so friendly.

Many toolbars are known to contain viruses and malware or even adware or spyware. I remember many such instances where either my anti-virus used to sound alerts or annoying pop-ups would just open one after another. It is the modern trend of pushing things down your throat and making you purchase! I'd rather pay an honest developer that much amount than paying the owner of a pesky software that not only pisses me off but also puts our computers at incredible risk! Also since all kinds of crooks like hackers, spammers, cheats, etc. prowl the Internet you never know which one made that thing and what nasty thing it might do. So it is better to either avoid such toolbars or make an extensive study if one wishes to download it rather than simply following blindly.

Virus: One of the many risks of toolbars

Few days ago I downloaded a zip freeware from a site and for some reason I was unmindful. The next thing I discovered was that the home page and default search option of my default browser (which is Internet Explorer) as well as that of Google Chrome was changed and a new toolbar had appeared in Internet Explorer. I immediately changed the home page and removed the search option and then attempted to uninstall the toolbar, where it went wrong as it does always. Such toolbars are made in such way that they are very difficult to uninstall with the available windows options. You are almost certain to get an error message and eventually the uninstall operation will be cancelled mid-way, which would not only leave harmful traces behind but also could mess up your registry.

Luckily after suffering in this way earlier, where even after uninstalling the toolbar I found that it resurfaced again a little later with the annoying pop-ups, I have learnt my lessons and now have a host of other things to clean up both the traces and fix the registry errors as well. Still I am not hundred percent sure that it has been wiped out, but I've found the methods to work.

This are not the only ways those pesky toolbars give trouble - after installing such toolbars you'd find your browser gone slow quite a bit. It takes time not only to load but also to open sites and pages. If you view the running processes in the task manager in windows it'll give you a fair idea of how much memory the toolbar is using up. If you can get rid of the toolbar properly then you'd find your browser back to its usual normal speed, which vindicates the fact that many of these toolbars are heavy on memory. I am talking from my own bitter experiences.

Lastly and very importantly you'd find many toolbar refreshing pages or getting self-refreshed after a while. At this point of time they send back the information they have collected from your computer thus far to the owner of the toolbar. Those information might contain only your surfing habits or something more confidential and important, but the chances of being the latter is more considering the track record of honest people on Internet! So beware of toolbars on not one or two but many counts.

Download only such toolbars that are from reputed sites and highly spoken of by users and techies alike. After installing those ones even study carefully to observe the changes that have occurred, if not anything dangerous just monitor the memory consumption by the toolbar. That will help you to ascertain whether you'd be able to accommodate the toolbar in your browser or not. Also you can try out other web browsers as well, because all browsers are different from one another and it might happen that some other browser go along fine with the toolbar. In that case you would have to learn ways of adding a toolbar to a web browser, if you don't know it prior. Searching with keywords will lead you to good help.

So based on my own experiences and the quantum of threat that the Internet provides I'd have to say that I'm not a fan of toolbars at all. You might like the toolbars from their look but you better watch out those if you were to save your computer from unwanted dangers. Therefore while installing freeware pay attention closely to what is trying to sneak through and stop it right there before it gets through from the available options. If you were to use a toolbar then use it at your own will, not like something dumped on you!


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