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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 15:44 GMT
Click Tips
Rob Freeman
By Rob Freeman
Click tip-ster

Rob Freeman, Click Online's very own Mr Fixit, troubleshoots your PC problems.

At the birth of the web one piece of software had the monopoly on surfing the internet. Developed by America's National Centre for Supercomputing Applications, it was called Mosaic. The authors went on to write Netscape, which quickly became the online world's new browser of choice.

Over a decade later, there is still one browser with a massive monopoly. It is called Internet Explorer, and the way it works is getting some of our viewers really annoyed.

Jeff Jones sent this to us:

I'm really fed up of pop-up windows. How can I stop them? They are killing IT for me.

And then there's this one from Debra Lodoen in France:

I get a lot of pop-up boxes when I'm online. I always ignore them and click the close button even if they interest me. Are any safe to open? Some of these increasingly frequent pop-ups are annoying and intrusive and I am worried that they will download something that will wreak havoc with my PC.

Debra, you are probably wise to ignore them, because there is a distinct chance that one of them may not be what it appears and may contain what is known as a drive-by download.

If you do see something interesting that pops up in front of you while surfing, it is still probably safer to look it up separately by doing a web search.

But pop-up windows take advantage of the fact that most versions of Internet Explorer cannot block them. So why not try a new browser? Internet Explorer is not the only one, there are other browsers out there which do exactly the same job, some would argue a better job.

First is the fastest growing new browser at the moment. It is called Firefox and it is the only browser for many years to come close to threatening Microsoft since Netscape disappeared from widespread use.

Many of our viewers have e-mailed to recommend this. It is free to download and to use.

The main thing that has brought on the take-up of Firefox is Microsoft's own shaky record when it comes to security. Firefox is Open Source which means there is an opportunity for anyone to examine the code for potential problems, and fix them.

It is resistant to spyware and comes with an effective pop-up blocker and is just over 4mb - probably between 10 and 20 minutes download time if you have a slow modem.

And it is not just for Windows users, as there are versions Linux and OSX, and many language versions, including Turkish, Polish and Swedish.

Another contender is Opera, already the browser of choice in a lot of handheld computers and internet phones because it is less than a megabyte to download. There are Linux, Windows and Mac versions as well.

Mac users also have the speedy Safari, also Open Source, which can be downloaded from Apple's website It is just for OSX, so you guys can rub your hands and feel just that little bit more special that you get something all to yourselves!

Incidentally, changing your browser does not mean losing all your personal web bookmarks.

Many browsers make a copy of these during the install process, but you can make Internet Explorer create a file containing all your favourites, which can be useful to import into any browser, or as a backup.

Start at the File menu, and choose Import and Export. You will get a welcome screen, and then you will need to choose Export Favourites from the Options.

Internet Explorer will then show you the Favourites folder, and if you have made any sub-folders for special categories then you can export these separately if you want to.

Otherwise, just press the Next button and browse to where you would like the file to be stored. The result will be a single file containing all your bookmarks which you can use on a different browser, or share with someone else.


If you have any questions or queries, please visit our "Contact us" page to get in touch.


Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 0745, 2030, Sunday at 0430, 0645 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. It is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0745 and BBC One: Sunday at 0645. Also BBC World.



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