Popups come from a number of different sources. One is websites that you visit.

Source Two is programs that you install on your computer. Some programs claim to do various useful things for you (and sometimes actually do them), but also secretly sends personal information to the creators and displays popups on your computer. This can be called: Trojan Horse, Adware, Spyware, or Malware.

The Third possibility is Windows IP Messenger Service. This was a "feature" included in Windows XP, 2000, NT and the misbegotten ME. It is actually a fairly useful network administration tool, except that some programmer at Microsoft set it to be on by default. Then some Spammers figured out how to abuse it by sending ads on an open network like those used by some Broadband ISPs.

Well! Enough theory for today! How to Fix:

These instructions assume that you are running some variety of Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer. If you are using some other OS then source 2 probably does not apply to you and source 3 certainly does not. Source 1 applies regardless of OS or browser. However, The given solutions only work for IE. If you have some other browser it will likely have some kind of built in pop-up protection. You could change to, say, Mozilla Firefox. However, if you are stuck with IE or just plain stubborn this may help. Unless you change OS's too, you will still need to stop type 2 and type 3.

To combat type one:

If you have Windows XP:
goto "http://windowsupdate.microsft.com" and make sure you have service pack 2
goto "http://toolbar.google.com" and download the google toolbar.
I would recommend this in any case. the google toolbar has a lot of cool features

Both of these have popup blockers that will prevent type one popups.

To combat type 2:

goto "http://www.majorgeeks.com/download506.html" and download Lavasoft Ad-Aware.
run Lavasoft Ad-Aware once a month or whenever you have problems.

That should handle about 99% of your problems.
If you still have trouble, Try this::

goto "http://www.safer-networking.org/en/mirrors/index.html" and download "Spybot - Search & Destroy 1.3"
run Spybot - Search & Destroy 1.3 once a month or whenever you have problems.

That program is meant to handle more industrial strength spyware. Each of the two find some things that the other misses. Be sure to update the definition files before each use. It should be fairly obvious how to do so once you open the program.

To combat 3:
Turn off the Service.

Windows 2000
  1. Click Start-> Settings-> Control Panel-> Administrative Tools->Services
  2. Scroll down and highlight "Messenger"
  3. Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties.
  4. Click the STOP button.
  5. Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar
  6. Click OK
Windows XP
  1. Click Start->Settings ->Control Panel
  2. Click Administrative Tools
  3. Click Services
  4. Double click Services Scroll
  5. down and highlight "Messenger"
  6. Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties.
  7. Click the STOP button.
  8. Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar
  9. Click OK
Windows NT
  1. Click Start ->Control Panel
  2. Double Click Administrative Tools
  3. Select Services-> Double-click on Messenger
  4. In the Messenger Properties window, select Stop,
  5. Then choose Disable as the Startup Type
  6. Click OK
Windows ME Windows Messenger Service cannot be disabled

A couple of related issues:

You might also want to install some firewall software like ZoneAlarm. This will prevent most Spyware from communicating with homebase. It may also alert you to the presence of malware before you notice the effects. I'm not sure if it will stop the pop-ups though.

Viruses are really a completely different issue, but if you have been exposed to Malware, you may also have viruses. Never, Never, Never let your computer access any network of any sort without reliable Anti-virus Software. Personally, I like Norten Anti-Virus and detest McAfee Virus Scan but YMMV.

And that is Matthew Scouten's Advanced Anti-Popup Primer!