Pop-up ads are almost impossible to avoid, but they can be reduced. If you have an extreme number of pop-ups, you probably have adware infecting your browser. Make sure you have your browser's pop-up blocker turned on, have good security software, and always watch when installing or downloading new apps or programs for additional bundled software or toolbars that propagate pop-up ads. Also, always keep Windows and all your software updated.
Turn on Pop-Up Blocking in Browser
All major browsers have settings to control pop-ups. For Internet Explorer, this is under the Internet Options' Privacy tab where you can also choose the level of blocking or notification you prefer. In Firefox, the check box to block pop-ups is in the Content tab, also under the browser's Options. Chrome users have to dig further. To find the Pop-ups settings, scroll down the Content Settings menu, which can be accessed in the Privacy section of Advanced Settings.
Avoid Picking up Adware
Pop-ups can be the result of adware. You can download adware unwittingly by not reading license agreements or paying attention to check boxes while installing new apps and software. Clicking on an ad or pop-up, even to close it, can cause you to pick up adware just like a real-world virus. To safely close a pop-up, open "Task Manager" by pressing "Ctrl-Shift-Esc." Pop-ups display in the Applications tab. Click on it and then press "End Task." Another way to stay safe is to avoid adding toolbars you haven't researched. Some examples of common adware toolbars are Ask, Babylon and Yahoo.
Add a Toolbar That Guards While You Browse
Install the WOT (Web of Trust) plugin for your browser. While browsing, the address bar will display a green, yellow or red circle to indicate whether the site is trustworthy, requires caution, or is untrustworthy, based on customer feedback regarding the website. Other reputable toolbars are Google Toolbar and Windows Defender.
Learn to Recognize Unsafe Sites
Avoid cluttered websites on which you can barely navigate without clicking on an ad. Ads can be disguised as part of the site or as a download link for popular freeware. Pay close attention to the URL. Some unsavory sites impersonate reputable sites in search engines to entice you to click in. Also avoid sites where the author or administrator is anonymous.
Remove Adware with Add/Remove Programs
When you suspect you have an adware infection, go to "Add or Remove Programs" using the Windows search box in the Start Menu. A list displays of all the programs installed on your computer. The date of install is on the right side of the list. Look for programs installed the approximate date you started having problems with pop-ups and remove any program you do not recognize by selecting them and clicking "Uninstall."
Remove Adware using Add-on Manager
Most unwanted toolbars or search engines that hijack your browser can be removed by going to the settings in your browser that manage add-ons and search engines. In Chrome, go to the Extensions tab of the Settings and also to "Manage Search Engines..." in the Search subheading of Settings. In Firefox, click the "Menu" button to go to Add-ons, and then click the search engine drop-down menu in the Search Box to get to Manage Search Engines. In IE, you can manage both by selecting "Manage Add-ons" in the Explorer Tool menu. If add-ons resist removal, open "Internet Explorer (no add-ons)" directly from the Start Menu to launch a clean browser.