February 21, 2013

Getting Rid of Popup Ads in Chrome Caused by “Insta” Processes

Posted in Internet, PC Tech, Troubleshooting tagged , , , , , at 5:53 pm by degyes

I recently started getting popup ads with ridiculous frequency, like at least a dozen per hour (and that was a minimum), non-stop, as long as my Chrome browser was open (I’m running Windows 7, Chrome version 24.0.131257m). This was despite having my browser settings defined to block all popups. To make matters even more irritating, in addition to these ads being repetitive and constant, they weren’t even interesting, focusing mainly on things like weight loss, face lifts, and how to make lots of money surfing the Internet (yeah, right).

Getting back to business, after ruling out a virus (see news and discussion about Adserv virus), I went ahead and confirmed that my browser was indeed set to block popups. This led me on a fruitless and frustrating course of checking, rechecking, and making all manner of adjustments to my Chrome popup settings, an annoying mini-project that played out over the better part of a week.

Finally, I’d more or less given up, resigned to either re-installing Chrome, or limiting its use. However, before taking that step, I decided to do a search on what seemed to be the name of one of the companies putting out these ads. To my luck, I came across a Google Group, of all places, hosting a discussion describing the (pretty simple) solution.

The online discussion I came across suggested that “Insta” extensions—such as InstaTwitter, InstaTumblr, etc—in Chrome were the actual culprits. Why this is an issue in Chrome and not in Firefox or IE isn’t clear, though indeed, it seems to be a known problem.

So in my case, the solution was to disable InstaTwitter. Though I’ll provide, in addition to the (simple) solution that worked, the procedures that didn’t work; this might be useful for conveying the overall discovery process, which included some dead-end steps.

(However, note that these procedures might work just fine as solutions to other popup- and ad-related problems in Chrome.)

Didn’t Work #1:

In the Chrome browser, doing as follows:
1. Settings
2. Advanced Settings
3. Privacy
4. Content Settings
5. Pop-ups
6. “Do not allow any sites to show pop-ups (recommended)”

Didn’t Work #2:

In the Chrome browser, doing as follows:
1. Performing steps #1 – #5, as above.
2. “Allow all sites to show pop-ups”
3. Manage Exceptions
4. Block the following (your popups may differ; these were the ones I was getting):

This Worked!:

In the Chrome browser, do as follows:
1. Tools
2. Task Manager
3. Select InstaTwitter (or any other “Insta” processes like InstaTumblr, etc).
4. Click End Process
5. Close Task Manager

You may have to repeat the procedure for subsequent reboots or new log-ins to your PC. Or perhaps you could disable the Insta processes permanently.