What is ‘Ads Removal’ Firefox add-on and Chrome extension? [dotTech Explains]

2013-12-07_081459Like millions of other people, I block ads for most websites on my computer and selectively allow ads for websites which I want to support — websites which I feel deserve to have my support, particularly ones that don’t have annoying ads. (Learn how to block ads on your computer by clicking here, if you have not done so already. And feel free to unblock ads for dotTech and our sister site SharewareOnSale :-)

My weapon of choice for ad blocking, like many others, is AdBlock Plus. I have AdBlock Plus set to unblock ads for both dotTech and SharewareOnSale. However, a few days ago I noticed ads were not showing for me on either website. I double-checked AdBlock Plus settings but nothing was wrong there. Then I checked dotTech and SharewareOnSale, ensuring the ad code in each website was working; nothing wrong there either.

After that, I did a bit of investigation and realized ads were appearing properly for dotTech and SharewareOnSale in Internet Explorer and Opera but not Firefox and Chrome. Dumbfounded, I put the issue to the back of my mind for a few days. Until today.

Today I just so happened to open up Firefox’s Add-ons Manager and noticed something unusual: an add-on by the name of ‘Ads Removal 1.0.0′. That is when I immediately realized why I was unable to see ads on both dotTech and SharewareOnSale — this new add-on was blocking it. I confirmed my suspicious by opening up Chrome’s Extensions section and saw Ads Removal 1.0.0 there, too.

Never having heard of Ads Removal before and not recalling ever installing it, I did a bit of digging because I was concerned I may have been infected with malware… only to discover there is whopping zero information on the internet about Ads Removal (at the time of this writing, of course). Not one to give up when it comes to the sanctity to my computer, I proceed with my investigation via other means. And soon I discovered what exactly is Ads Removal, where it came from, and how to remove it. Read on to learn more.

What is Ads Removal?

Ads Removal is an ad blocking add-on for Firefox and extension for Chrome. It is created by IObit and comes bundled with IObit Malware Fighter; it was introduced in IObit Malware Fighter v2.2 and is found in both the FREE and PRO editions.

There is no information during installation of IObit Malware Fighter about this add-on/extension nor do I remember seeing a prompt inside Firefox or Chrome asking me if I want to install it. Yet, somehow it was installed for both Firefox and Chrome.

To make matters worse, at the time of this writing,

  • IObit Malware Fighter’s website has no information about it blocking ads — no such feature is mentioned. The only place I found info on IObit Malware Fighter blocking ads was in a post in IObit’s forums which mentioned that ad blocking capabilities was added in v2.2.
  • The Ads Removal add-on/extension in Firefox and Chrome has zero information regarding who developed it, where it came from, etc. Typically, you can view add-on/extension properties to learn about its homepage, developer, etc. Not so with Ads Removal.

Is Ads Removal Malware or a Virus?

As far as I can tell, Ads Removal is not malware nor is it any sort of virus. Although I don’t appreciate its stealth install, I did not notice any malicious or suspicious behavior by the add-on/extension and I ran the contents of its add-on folder for Firefox through VirusTotal, which gave it a 0/49 clean rating.

So, as far as I know, Ads Removal is not malware nor is it a virus. It is, however, an annoyance.

How to remove, delete, or uninstall Ads Removal?

Removing or uninstalling Ads Removal from Firefox and/or Chrome is actually a bit more involved than you may think. Typically, with normal add-ons or extensions, you can go to Firefox Add-ons Manager or Chrome’s Extensions section and delete/remove the add-on or extension in question. Not so with Ads Removal.

To remove or uninstall Ads Removal, you need to do the following:

  • IObit Malware Fighter is designed to prevent the removal or uninstall of Ads Removal from Firefox and Chrome. So, before you can remove or uninstall Ads Removal, you need to uninstall and remove IObit Malware Fighter from your computer. You can easily uninstall IObit Malware Fighter from Add/Remove Programs. If you don’t want to uninstall and remove IObit Malware Fighter, that is OK because you can keep it and still remove just Ads Removal… but first you need to disable Ad Blocker setting from IObit Malware Fighter. To disable Ad Blocker protection by IObit Malware Fighter, right-click IObit Malware Fighter’s system tray icon, go to Protection and click on Ad Blocker (ON) setting:

2013-12-07_084032

Once you click it, it will change to Ad Blocker (OFF).

  • After you’ve either uninstalled IObit Malware Fighter or disabled ad blocking protection, you can now easily remove Ads Removal add-on from Firefox and extension from Chrome like normal. If you are in Firefox, open up Firefox Adds-on Manager and click the Remove button next to Ads Removal. (You can open up Firefox Adds-on Manager by typing about:addons in the address bar of Firefox.) If you are in Chrome, open up Chrome’s Extensions section, click the gray trash can next to Ads Removal, and confirm you want to delete it. (You can open up Chrome’s Extensions section by typing chrome://extensions in the address bar of Chrome.)
  • Done!

That is it. Now Ads Removal should no longer be on your computer.

Conclusion

I don’t care if Ads Removal has the noble intention of wanting to improve user experience by blocking ads — I don’t appreciate and don’t want any add-on or extension installed in my browser without my explicit permission. And an add-on or extension that has no information provided about it and cannot be removed without jumping through some hoops? No thanks. I’m glad I found out how to remove this piece of shit and I hope you find this article useful. Enjoy!

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35 comments

  1. spiritofsilence1

    [@Ashraf]

    I’m sorry, for me, when I install the toolchain “AdvancedsystemeCare” and then the “MalwareFighter” program, he ask me for permission to install “AdsRemoval1.0.0″ is the reason I came, I seek information on the add-on in question.
    I’m not accusing you of lying, it’s silly, I believe that each application is different, a user has another …
    read my post below …!. Thanks.

  2. spiritofsilence1

    the IObit software is accused in court against several software developer.
    malware fighter software is actually “Malwarebit antimalware”, look at the source code is the same.
    IObit is accused of stealing the best sources of the most famous software code is used to create the existing “super tools” -> “advanced system care pro”.
    to search with Google? …?.
    However, I also use IObit out of curiosity and to get an opinion.
    It is true that the behavior of IObit software are not adequate and clean although IObit is interesting and may be not have bad intentions.
    install software IObit, suddenly you will have all the following IObit in the “program file” Windows.
    The behaviors varies from one person to another.
    The problem you are dealing in the subject does not concern me, the add-on AdsRemoval1.0.0 has to ask permission to install, this is why I am, seeking information.

    I give you a tip to clean the browser, in 2 clicks, no more problems
    HERE “Fr”> http://general-changelog-team.fr/fr/downloads/viewdownload/20-outils-de-xplode/2-adwcleaner
    OR HERE “Ing”> http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/
    – Both site are essential for security issues and tools used…!!!???.
    Salut a tous.

  3. David M.

    I have Contacted them Regarding this as I was Very Pissed off after I figured out what was causing our issues via this Post Found Via Google Search. I have Many Products from them and have maintained them for a long time. I won’t post the Nasty msg I sent them But I will give you how they responded once they understood what i was Mad about.

    They Responded with this…

    Hi there,

    We have forward the info to programmers and marketing colleague. Thank you very much for your feedback and support to IObit. We will fix this issue asap.

    Have a good xmas!

    Sincerely,

    Aurora
    IObit Support Team
    http://www.iobit.com

    Here is Hoping they fix this and add some kind of Requirement for the users Direct approval to add the add-on / Extension to there browsers. I had found it and removed it Multy times but it keeped coming back over and over, I was going Crazy not knowing how it was getting re-installed, and Silently at that tell i read this.

    Thank you Very Much for the Info,
    David M.

  4. RealBull

    [@John K]
    Thanks for the tip! I didn’t think about that at the time because I was irritated and just uninstalled everything since they wanted to try to hold the virtual CD/DVD driver hostage with SFA. I used Alcohol52% because it is supposedly Windows OS certified, but screw them. Now I just use a free version of CyberLink Power2Go ISO tools. I’ll probably switch over to Daemon Tools Lite, but I think they like to try to slip in a toolbar and other crap.

  5. Mr.Dave

    [@RealBull] Wow, what a great list! I’ll definitely enjoy trying these out, and expect I’ll never need IObit’s GameBooster again. Many Thanks, RealBull!

    By the way, I also need this type of program for stuff other than games (although it would help games as well). I have a 7-year-old PC and it needs all the horsepower it can muster for multi-track recording, Band-in-a-Box, and other music programs.

  6. John K

    [@RealBull]

    I removed SFA by killing its service (Task Manager, Anvir, WinPatrol or what have you), deleting the SFA directory and removing all reg keys referring to SFA or Safe File Advisor. No more problems and Alcohol still works as it should. Saying that it won’t if you uninstall SFA the official way is in my opinion a particularly nasty trick.

    Alcoholsoft used to be a reputable firm. Not anymore.

  7. RealBull

    [@John K]
    Yes, it happened to me too. I recently updated Alcohol 52% and I noticed they installed Safe File Advisor. I tried to just uninstall Safe File Advisor, but a message said that it was part of Alcohol 52% and I had to uninstall that, too. Well I think that was lame because why would I need Safe File Advisor to run Alcohol 52%? So I uninstalled both of them. Never again will I install it.

    [@Ishaan]
    We are talking about components being installed without the option to disable it. All of us here ARE grown up because we realize when something is doing something without our permission.
    “And as said earlier if its a new feature you didn’t know, its your fault who didn’t bother to read whats new” – by YOU.

    What? Many of the programs don’t list what is new during the installation process. If you are talking about the “What’s New” text then you should know that does NOT matter. Any component being installed should alert the the person who is installing it on their computer during installation. When the person clicks yes or next then it means that they agree to the components being installed. If it is NOT listed during installation then it is the SOFTWARE COMPANY’S fault.
    Yes, I’m pulling this on.

  8. Tom

    IObit Malware Fighter is a nasty piece of software. Try to remove it and you’ll see… and you’ll spend the next hour with various tools to cleanup all the crap it left behind.

    I don’t really care if it fights malware if it can’t give a transparent install and and full clean install. IObit is worrisome.

  9. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@Ishaan] First of all, IObit does not provide any changelogs that I could find. The only place I found info on changes made to their programs was in the forums.

    Secondly, it is absolutely ridiculous to ask people to look at list of changes to know of a new feature added to a program. The feature should be mentioned on the program’s homepage, in plain sight. Changelogs aren’t for announcing new features; they are for people who want to read the fine print as to what has changed in an update. Features — new and old — should be mentioned in software descriptions.

    Thirdly, I agree with you that if you download a protection program, you should expect protection. However, installing an ad blocker — a non-core, extra feature for an anti-malware program — in my browser without telling me or asking for permission isn’t the sort of protection I expect from an anti-malware program. In fact, it is very close to the behavior of malware programs.

  10. Ishaan

    [@Ashraf]

    Well I mean no insult to anyone, simply that most comments just talk about unethical n such stuffs and stop using IOBIT.. Like saying, “Ooohh..!! IOBIT run run…” .. I agree that IOBIT had a bad past but they have moved out years ago n going good… I haven’t disregarded your post by any means as I really respect people who use their time for sharing experiences with others thro’ whatsoever media.. Point it out if I did..

    I guess I tried to make it clear that if you use some protection that means it will do something, for doing something it will obviously modify something.. You can’t expect to be in space without using a space shuttle…

    And if you haven’t read, I too agree on not being installed without my permission.. But by switching on everything in the antimalware means u give it the permission else why even switch it on, it ain’t going to use any magic spell…
    And yes I still would say, read the changelogs.. most of them are in simple understandable terms unlike any Jargon..

    I’m here to criticize people behaving naive not anyone else nor the post…

    Lets not pull this on.. Sayonara..!

  11. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@Ishaan] I feel the only one that needs to “grow up” is you. You are resulting to personal insults to help make your point instead of… well, making your point. And you fail to realize the whole point of this thread, so I will highlight it here for you:
    I don’t care if Ads Removal has the noble intention of wanting to improve user experience by blocking ads — I don’t appreciate and don’t want any add-on or extension installed in my browser without my explicit permission. And an add-on or extension that has no information provided about it and cannot be removed without jumping through some hoops? No thanks!

  12. Ishaan

    What a childish behavior by you all…

    Scenario 1:
    You install an Antivirus, do you want that AV should disable all its function and let you manually select what to start after install? Do you really expect this? Which product does this?

    Kiddos grow up, its an anti malware “you” installed who has given a set of features if you don’t like it disable it, its made to protect it did so.. Make a habit of reading the changelogs by entering the forum instead of being a cry baby later..

    Even I don’t like stuffs entering my addons/pc without my permission but by enabling all features of the anti malware I would say I gave it the necessary permissions… And as said earlier if its a new feature you didn’t know, its your fault who didn’t bother to read whats new..

    P.S. I’m not an IOBIT fan but being fair n just coz criticizing by sitting in front of your pc is easier than really doing something for the others for free…

    Grow Up…

  13. BearPup

    Well, I’ll chime in with my agreement with the article (Thanks Ashraf), and the majority sentiment expressed here so far. You don’t ‘fight’ malware by being malware – and subversive installation, with neither information nor an uninstall routine, is by my definition, a definite form of malware. As for harm, its still a crime Breaking & Entering, even if you don’t actually steal or damage anything.

    Its ironic, because of IObit’s reputation, I had switched my uninstaller from IObit’s to Advanced Uninstaller Pro, until in version 11.24 they quietly added a stealth installer of Daily Health Check, something I neither want nor need – especially when its installed without my permission.

    And Revo doesn’t do 64 Bit programs. Maybe the Windows Control Panel Applet isn’t such a bed idea after all. How depressing.

  14. Donna

    @David Roper
    “IObit slipped a “Roofie” into your browser drink, and while they didn’t screw you, they had their way with you. Not good.”

    I had a guy do that to me years ago in a local disco…what a night we had when he took me home!
    However, happy ending, we ended up getting married!
    Donna

  15. John K

    And IObit is not the only sinner. When updating Alcohol 52% I discovered that the installer had also, without asking or telling me, installed ‘Safe File Advisor’, whatever that may be. It may or may not be safe, but that is not the point. I didn’t ask for it and I certainly don’t want it installed without my knowledge. No more Alcoholsoft for me.

  16. RealBull

    [@Mr.Dave]
    You may want to check out these for game boosting:

    Game Fire (Egypt)
    http://www.smartpcutilities.com/gamefiredl.html

    Puran Utilities (India)
    http://www.puransoftware.com/Puran-Utilities.html

    Actual Booster (Russia)
    http://www.loonies.narod.ru/actlbstr.htm

    JetBoost (USA)
    http://www.bluesprig.com/jetboost.html

    Toolwiz Care(S. Korea)
    http://www.toolwiz.com/

    Wise Game Booster (China, portable)
    http://www.wisecleaner.com/wisegameboosterfree.html

    I’d recommend you try GameFire first.
    I have never tried Wise Game Booster, but some say it is fairly good.

    Personally, I use SmartClose(Germany) on Vista and XP(not necessarily for gaming only), but it may not be what you need.
    http://www.bm-productions.tk/

    Goodluck!

  17. RealBull

    Well, if I’m correct, IOBit is based in China. I found this out awhile ago and uninstalled their Advanced System Care program. Their software does shady things like installing things without permission. But this type of program behavior maybe normal in China and not here, so it may not be an act of “stealthy” installation. Personally I tend to stay away from Chinese programs because of situations like this.

  18. Mr.Dave

    [@chuck] Thanks, Chuck – I’ll give a look to Wise Care 365. I’ve uninstalled everything from IObits except Game Booster, need to find a good alternative for that and then I’ll be IObit-free! Of course, that assumes they didn’t already install a bunch of stuff I don’t yet know about. I decided that if I can’t trust them, I don’t want them in my house or my PC. I’ll educate as many people as I can on this, just need to tell them how to fill the gap that IObit used to cover.

  19. CompNetTeach

    IObit as a company has demonstrated a history of lacking ethics,

    Remember, when IObit introduced their malware products in the first place, it was proved that Malwarebytes’ signature library was directly ripped off and utilized without their permission. Malwarebytes deliberately added false positives that ended up in IObit’s signature library and nobody else’s as a demonstration of IP theft.

    There have been grumblings that IObit has deliberately cloned code snippets from other utility programs (kind of hard to conclusively prove).

    So, would you support a company who just wants your money and does not respect its competitors, peers or its customers?

  20. Seamus McSeamus

    Wow. I’ve never heard of this critter until now, but will definitely file it away for future reference. I’ve used the portable version of IOBit’s uninstaller, but don’t even have that on my computer(s) anymore.

    This is very bad behavior, and certainly enough to cause me to add IOBit to my untrusted list. Thanks for sharing this, Ashraf.

  21. Gene

    Interesting . . . though I never heard of IObit before — either the Co. or its products.

    I use the portable version of Firefox. One thing about portable apps: they’re like ghosts; they are there, but also nearly as if not there. They are self-contained and generally leave no traces in the registry (at least not the types of portable app that I use), and so Windows barely knows they are present. That means no conflicts with other apps, even of the same type. I can have three different versions of the same program, as I did in the case of AVIdemux. That can be difficult or impossible, with installed versions.

    One corollary of this is that one may need to take extra or different steps to update such apps, **and** no extensions seem to be able to find this portable FF, unless I deliberately and explicitly install them there. I’m guessing the situation would be similar for a portable Chrome, which I understand also exists.

    If anyone wants to go that way, I suggest you look for the .PAF type of portable app, like those featured at Portableapps.Com. It is the portable format that is immediately recognizable in its layout (**not** everything tucked away inside one .Exe, where you don’t really know what’s going on), open, with “all its cards turned face-up” for inspection.

  22. Pigpen

    Thanks for the article. I use Ad Blocker Plus as a Chrome Extension, too. I hadn’t noticed anything unusual, but checked my extensions anyway. Ad Removal was there and enabled. I’m of the same mind as others–don’t install something I haven’t OK’d. I always do custom installs, so I’m not sure how it got there–maybe during one of the malware database updates. I’ll keep checking to see if it returns. Much appreciated info.

  23. onedeafeye

    I used to use IObit Uninstaller, and quite liked it. And then there was an install-over-top version update, and I got hit with all kinds of unexplained and unwanted stuff. It took awhile to get it all gone, but IObit is not an option on my computer any more. They may make good products, but the sneaky crap isn’t acceptable.

  24. David Roper

    IObit slipped a “Roofie” into your browser drink, and while they didn’t screw you, they had their way with you. Not good. It’s plain Malware in my book.

    That’s illegal to do in most courts. IOBits needs to apologize in writing to DotTech readers, and You especially, before you offer anything else from them. I won’t be using them until they change their ways, FAST.

  25. Mr.Dave

    I’m fed up with IObit doing things in stealth mode, not telling me about it, and making it difficult to even determine they are behind the mystery software or popup ads. Making it difficult to remove only makes it more of a virus. I’ve been a big fan of Advanced System Care for years, but now I will have to go to the dozens of people that installed IObit products on my advice, and replace them with other product(s).

    Question: What is a good replacement? Ok if it’s multiple programs to do the same job. Anyone have some good suggestions for ASC, Malware Fighter and Game Booster?

  26. TheGame

    Great article and I agree completely. Any software that installs something without the user’s permission or even software that tries to be “sneaky” and include it in express install options isn’t cool. When I install software I always make sure to check the Custom Installation option, usually you’ll see a bunch of added bloatware that you can un-check that you wouldn’t have seen if you just did a standard install or express install. Great article.