Reader Response to Barbara's Article,
What You Need to Know About Spyware, the Alexa Toolbar, Free Software, & Anti-spyware Programs – with comments on Internet Explorer and alternative Web browsers.

Last updated May 2011, with newest comment at top

Paul Jenson wrote: "Thanks for your helpful article on Alexa. I have been doing a lot of SEO work for the past few years. Each and every time I download the Alexa toolbar to help make it easier for me to view my Alexa ratings for the websites I’m working on, my computer mysteriously begins having unexplained IE crashes and failures to launch, so I uninstalled the Alexa toolbar as thoroughly as possible.

"Just to confirm my previous suspicions, I downloaded the Alexa toolbar a couple of weeks ago on three of my work computers (different offices), and immediately began experiencing multiple crashes every day. When I used to completely remove it from my computers, all the IE crashing stopped immediately.

"At that time, I searched the web to see if anyone else was experiencing the same results with Alexa as I have had, and among other posts, I found yours. It’s surprising, however, that there is not a lot more chatter about the problems created by Alexa. "Thanks again for your beneficial service and website!"

Sam Staves wrote: "I totally had my web browser freeze and Windows wouldn’t close more often than not, as well as lots of improper shutdowns thanks to the Alexa Toolbar. As soon as I deleted everything from my Gateway computer, everything was okay again. I totally agree with you and wanted to share my experience that you didn’t fantasize this. Everything you experienced happened to me too. Reason I got Alexa was I thought it would be useful to surf shopping sites, and I’m a big Amazon customer."

Gerry wrote: "Thank you for your informative article about spyware. "However, I'm not sure if you’re aware that Alexa can often come with some Windows updates. I suffered the same IE crashes you mention, which began to happen not long after I installed some "critical" Windows updates. I then ran Ad-Aware, and it found Alexa and informed me that it came bundled with certain updates. After posting a query about this on a help newsgroup, and asking if it was safe to delete Alexa, I got this reply from Mike:

"The Alexa 'What's related' CLSID is part of a normal Internet Explorer install. It will always be restored if you repair IE, or when you install certain updates. All that the bare IE Alexa entry does, i.e., without the Alexa toolbar being installed, is to add the 'What's related' option to I.E. Some people have concerns about this, as it tracks your browsing habits. It is quite safe to delete if you don't use the 'What's related' function."

John Charville wrote: "I came across your website and the piece on Alexa whilst doing a little research into Alexa. I am afraid that your John Dilbeck appears to have no real understanding of what Alexa does. It is, as far as I am concerned, one of the worst forms of spyware and will send details of everything entered in a browser window, including details about what you purchase and much more to Amazon and, I understand, MSN as well. It is true ‘Spyware.’"

In further communication with John, he linked me to Alexa’s mile-long privacy page, which you should read before installing this program. "You cannot have better than from the horse's mouth," he wrote. Re my Internet Explorer problems, he added, "It can be a right bugger and all those supposed young experts in the shops and similar really have very little idea about getting it right. If you run into IE problems, just click to delete IE, and you will then be given the option of repairing the installation. Windows will not allow IE to be deleted because Windows itself is based on the Explorer part and would cease to function otherwise."

Update 2013:
A Few Words about Internet Explorer 7 and 8

I used IE 6 for a long time because it worked for me. I finally downloaded IE 7 when I bought a new computer, but avoided downloading IE 8 for a long time because every time I downloaded the latest IE update, I had a new set of problems with it. Soon after IE 7 was introduced, several of my Web business friends reported that, after downloading IE 7, they experienced a number of serious computer problems, including complete crashes. Like all new Microsoft products (particularly VISTA), it has always been prudent to wait as long as possible for all the bugs to be worked out. (Last I checked, there were more than seven million Web pages with the words "Vista crashes," and an equal number or pages for "IE 7 crashes."

I finally downloaded IE 8 in early 2013 because I was having so many problems with 7, but my computer guru told me that I should just switch to Mozilla and be done with it because IE 8 now has so many security holes in it that's it's not save to use when accessing sites where you have sensitive data. Later versions of IE are available now for newer computers, but they can't be downloaded to my desktop computer; only to my laptop. In searching for "IE 8 crashes," Google tells me there are now 279 million pages with those keywords on it.

I have recently been advised to download Chrome because it may become the premier web browser in time. I think we all need at least two browsers, if only to give us two different view of our blogs or websites. I have set up Mozilla to open to this website, and IE to open my blog site so I'll always know if there is a problem with either site when I begin each day.

See also the response from Alexa's Customer Service Department.

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