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Adware. What is Adware? History of adware. Adware catalog.

What is adware?

Adware is a type of Advertising Display Software that delivers advertising content potentially in a manner or context that may be unexpected and unwanted by users.

Typically, adware components install alongside a shareware or freeware application. These advertisements create revenue for the software developer and are provided with initial consent from the user. Adware displays Web-based advertisements through pop-up windows or through an advertising banner that appears within a program's interface. Getting pop-up advertisements when you're working on your computer is very annoying.

Adware can slow your PC by using RAM and CPU cycles. Adware can also slow your Internet connection by using bandwidth to retrieve advertisements. In addition, adware can increase the instability of your system because many adware applications are not programmed well.

Adware programs other than spyware do not invisibly collect and upload this activity record or personal information when the user of the computer has not expected or approved of the transfer, but some vendors of adware maintain that their application which does this is not also spyware, due to disclosure of program activities: for example, a product vendor may indicate that since somewhere in the product's Terms of Use there is a clause that third-party software will be included that may collect and may report on computer use, that this Terms of Use disclosure means the product is just adware.

Brief history of adware

There seems little doubt that the whole idea of ad- and spyware came about as a legitimate extension of Internet advertising. It didn't take long for the idealistic view of the Internet and the World Wide Web as being totally non-profit, everything-for-free venues, to fade away. Hotwired introduced Web advertising on its site in October 1994, featuring ads from Sprint, Volvo, AT&T MCI, Zima, and others; by the time consumers began surfing the Web with the brand-new Netscape 1.0 in November of the same year, Web ads were already a fact of life.

Spam - mass commercial emailings to legitimate mailing lists - appeared en masse in December (though the first spam reference I can find is the infamous April '94 spamming from Canter and Siegel Legal Services). Affiliate marketing began in the same year, with PC Flowers and Gifts, Cybererotica, and others beating out better-known affiliate programs like to the Internet.

By 1996, tracking methodology had been implemented and was in use by such ad providers as ValueClick, Alexa, Be Free, LinkShare, and Commission Junction. was launched in 1997 as an attempt to provide a centralized, detailed search function for affiliates. The idea was relatively straightforward: to reach out to as many Net consumers as possible, and somehow track their surfing and buying habits in order to fine-tune advertising tactics. Of course, the entire idea is predicated on invading Net users' privacy at least to some degree. "Cookies," designed as part of the original Netscape protocols, were implemented to store login information, track surfers' visits to commercial sites, and keep at least some record of personal and demographical information in order to assist sales and marketing tactics; ad banners were selected to target a site's demographics; and so forth.

adware installation The thinking isn't much different from the ideas driving mass postal mailings, catalog requests (why do you think they ask you for so much information for a simple catalog mailing?), telemarketing calls ("We see you're a satisfied customer of Foobar Corporation's MegaWidget, and as such, we'd like to introduce you to...") -- even television ads marketed to a channel's prime viewing audience (toys on Cartoon Network, shopping outlets on Lifetime, computer goodies on TechTV, etc.).

All these advertising and marketing techniques are, by necessity, somewhat scattershot in approach and effectiveness, and the results bear this out. When a 1% "click-through" rate for banner ads is considered excellent, that says something. So the advertisers and the software designers decided to raise the bar a bit.

The idea of specifically targeted "adware" came about when the producers of freebie product found that they couldn't make money - or enough money to suit their pocketbooks -- by simply giving their products away, or hoping that folks who signed up for their services would click on the ads that ran on their sites. Thus they began to bundle advertising within their wares.

Suddenly Websites and software developers that prided themselves on being aggressively non-profit found themselves forced to accept advertising to stay afloat. Developers found themselves embracing, or at least accepting, the idea of modifying their programs with commercial content, requiring users to either accept ads along with the freebies or register the programs, usually for a fee, to obtain the ad-free versions. Of course it didn't end there. As Internet advertising showed itself to be a dicey-at-best proposition, the software used to promulgate advertising and encourage ecommerce on the Net became more and more sophisticated and, unfortunately, more intrusive.

Good and bad adware

Not all adware is bad. Many useful programs are able to be distributed for free because the ads they display pay for their development. The Opera web browser and the KaZaA peer-to-peer file sharing clients are good examples of such applications.

Good adware
only installs itself on your system if you give it permission to do so. Bad adware installs itself without your permission.

How to block adware

The easiest and most reliable method for blocking unwanted ads is to install adware removal tool. A tests and reviews popular tools every month.

Next, if you're already using an adware removal tool, you should ensure that you have the latest update. Adware companies are very active right now and are releasing new versions constantly. If your product is more than a week or two out of date, you likely have new adware installed on your computer.

Everyone heard the adage "The best offense is a good defense" and that's most often true. You can find a wide range of programs here on that can detect and eliminate adware, spyware and other dangerous programs.

Adware catalog

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