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Once you've download PopUpCop 2.5, it automatically installs on your Internet Explorer toolbar and waits there, ready to stop pop-up windows the next time you launch IE. PopUpCop doesn't require you to reboot to get started after installation. For $19.95, which is comparable to other ad-stopping products, registration includes all users of a single computer when entered by a user with administrative authority.
PopUpCop's IE toolbar is clean and easy to understand. A police badge icon on the left opens a drop-down menu of configuration and technical-support options. A slider bar in the middle lets you quickly select preconfigured low, medium, or high protection settings. A stoplight on the right of the toolbar indicates Java or ActiveX advertising script activity on a Web page. Finally, a handy display at the far right shows you at a glance the features that you've turned on or off.
Click the PopUpCop badge icon, and a drop-down menu displays your configuration choices. And this app gives you more choices than any other pop-up stopper currently on the market. PopUpCop lets you choose to allow all pop-ups, require the app to ask about each pop-up, or simply disable Web features such as Java and ActiveX scripts, images, animation, background music, and Flash movies. And as if these controls weren't enough, PopUpCop lets you customize its treatment of mouse scripts, useless warning dialogs, and window frame resizing. You can even customize PopUpCop's own setting controls; for example, you can remove options from the configuration panel.
With PopUpCop, there's no need to wonder which pop-ups got killed on a given Web page. The PopUpCop stoplight on the toolbar turns from green to yellow to red to indicate that the program suppressed either a pop-up or a script timer used to deploy a pop-up. Mouse over or click the stoplight, and PopUpCop indicates the presence of a cookie, a mouseover, or a conventional pop-up.
Beyond its basic ability to stop Web page advertising, PopUpCop includes Xguard, a tool to fend off ad-serving software that installs on your hard drive. You may still want to run Ad-aware to remove any existing ad-serving software, but Xguard keeps future ad-serving apps off your system. Internet Explorer itself already alerts you just before a Web site loads such scripts onto your computer, but it doesn't describe the scripts themselves. Xguard, on the other hand, says it provides all the available information about the control and its publisher, including info on how to remove the control. PopUpCop's Xguard feature even stops the new InVue ads, such as those found on Yahoo or GeoCities sites, which sit atop Web pages. So far, none of PopUpCop's competitors can stop these ads.
In addition to PopUpCop's online help pages and adequate FAQ, Edensoft, the maker of PopUpCop, offers free e-mail technical support but, unfortunately, no telephone support.