Review: Give unwanted browser extras the heave-ho with AVAST Browser Cleanup

Deep-six annoying browser barnacles with this free tool from AVAST.

AVAST Browser Cleanup removes the annoying toolbars, plug-ins, and add-ons that gum up your Web browser, including some that the average user would find difficult to remove, while leaving your safe or approved toolbars and extensions alone. Like AVAST's basic antivirus program, Browser Cleanup is free. It's also portable, so it runs without having to be installed. AVAST Browser Cleanup is for Windows XP, Vista, and 7, and worked with all three of our installed browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome.

Since AVAST Browser Cleanup is portable software, it doesn't need to be installed or uninstalled: It runs as soon as you click the program file, and closing it leaves nothing behind. To "uninstall" Browser Cleanup, simply delete it from your system. The most annoying browser barnacles seem to install themselves with little or no effort (or notification, or approval) on your part, so it's only fitting that Browser Cleanup also does its thing more or less, automatically: Open it, and it scans your browsers. If it finds any known or suspected problems, it displays the results in a list that lets you select or deselect individual items, and then press a button to purge them all. We ran Browser Cleanup, and it quickly scanned our system. The results? All three browsers, all clear. We take pains to keep our test system free from unwanted software, so Browser Cleanup merely confirmed our expectations. We've trusted AVAST's antivirus solutions, so we have no reason to doubt Browser Cleanup's effectiveness. But the program also displays all of your browser's safe add-ons, too, so we were able to verify Browser Cleanup's ability to disable items individually and also to restore a browser's default settings.

We all love freeware, but someone has to pay the bills, and that often means ad-supported toolbars, some of which are bound to get through (hint for future: Choose "Custom" installation options). If you're plagued by an overabundance of browser-choking toolbars, add-ons, and extras you never asked for (or wish you hadn't), run AVAST Browser Cleanup before you try cleaning out your browser the hard way, item by item, one at a time.

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