TECH COLUMN: Toolbars - What you really need to know before adding them

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Day in and day out I get customers coming in my shop for services like virus removal and general clean up to speed up their computers.

Ninety-nine per cent have the same thing in common, toolbars.

A toolbar is an add-on to a browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox etc) that adds a bar onto your browser.

The toolbar may contain a search box, links, or other features.

There are thousands of them but the ones I see the most are Google, Delta, Babylon, iLivid, and Snapdo to name a few.

Most toolbars get installed when you download other software.

Usually there is a tick box that comes up during installation that says do you want to add this tool bar - and if ticked, you may have to untick it for it not to install.

Always read this thoroughly and don’t just click next, next next.

So why are there toolbars?

The people that make them want to see what you are doing.

There are legitimate toolbars and non-legit.

Any toolbar can track your every action online.

This information can be used or sold for marketing purposes.

Besides invading your privacy, they can be portals for malicious software.

If a non-legit toolbar is installed (even by accident) it can give a level of access that can allow it to do some nasty things to your computer.

As well as a privacy invasion, toolbars can affect the performance of your computer.

If you have a browser with a toolbar, you may notice it loads slower.

Removing the toolbar will help, especially if your machine is a bit older.

You may not see a difference in computers that are less than two years old, however, when you get multiple toolbars on it, you will see things start to get sluggish.

A lot of people will tell you that having one toolbar is ok.

I don’t advocate for any toolbars - except related to security software Bullguard, McAfee, Kaspersky etc.

If you get a toolbar and you are not sure how it got there, don’t use it. If you want it removed and don’t know how, take it to a professional.

Chances are, there could be more than just the toolbar on your machine that is invading your privacy.

Be safe.