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By JB Burke

Q: I have a couple of toolbars on my browser that I don’t want, and my default browser recently got changed to Google Chrome. How did this happen, and how can I prevent it happening again?

A: Your experience is not unusual. The problem is probably free software – more specifically how free software gets installed. There are many fine pieces of “free” software available on the web, such as uninstallers, defrag utilities, system maintenance suites and many others. They are free, but someone has to pay for their development. Sometimes there are Pro or upgraded versions that they will try to sell you, and there are usually additional features offered by these versions. They can be a good deal. And sometimes 3rd parties are paying the free software providers to add something extra. We all like free, so we tend to go there. And the free versions frequently try to install these 3rd party extra “goodies” for you, sometimes without asking.

But you can fight these add-ons by remembering 2 things. (1) If asked, always take the “Custom” or “Expert” route when installing, not the “Recommended” automatic install. Custom gives you more choices, and some of those choices allow you to un-check the boxes that install the un-wanted software. (2) Read every screen carefully before clicking on “Next” or “Continue”. Again, look for boxes to un-check, when asked to install toolbars, change your default search engine or install a new browser. Being cautious will lead to smoother computing.

Published: Courier 9/18/11 - Page 5C