Browser Errors? Ditch the Toolbars

Over the last three months I have fixed four PCs that have had strange browser errors, appearing as dialog boxes to the unsuspecting users. The dialog boxes are usually some sort of failed assertion, whose message only holds meaning in that the user knows something bad just happened. “Why is my computer telling me I’m doing something illegal?” one person asked.

The fix? Remove every toolbar installed on their PC.

In two cases the Google Toolbar wouldn’t uninstall unless I updated it first. In one case there were four different toolbars (AOL, Ask, Yahoo!, and Google) all competing. And in all cases, when I asked the owner of the computer if they used the toolbars, the answer was “Toolbar? What are you talking about?”

The one person that actually had used it to search was fine with me setting the browser’s home page to Google instead.

As far as I’m concerned toolbars are spyware. They may add value in very limited cases, but for most people it is another piece of unnecessary software, never updated, cluttering the screen while it gathers data for its masters and causing problems later on when browsers get updated without the toolbars following suit.

So remove them where you see them, eh?