Here are some tips and (free) software suggestions from Cedric Zool to make your computer less annoying while surfing the web:
All of the following were found to be useful in preventing most computer annoyances and enabling you to do what you want to do, the way you want to do it, with a bit more anonymity, regardless of how software corporations, or marketers and info-harvesters want things to be. These help prevent annoyances when watching or saving videos, surfing the web, selecting text, etc.
What you do is nobody's business and no one is paying you in cash for your websurfing habits information. Website operators and their marketing corporation partners will try to take the information, analyze it, and use it to send targeted advertisements to your browser session. It's a more efficient use of advertising bandwidth if they show you things you might want. The issue is that most people don't want to see advertisements anyway. It's not what they have spent money to go online for. This is not meant to indict the harvesters like Yahoo and Google and others because that is how they make money and provide services without billing guests, but it is designed to help prevent the successful taking of meaningful information, should one decide to keep as much privacy as possible for themselves.
In May 2014, Yahoo announced that it would no longer respect "do not track" requests from guests' browsers. 2 weeks later, a couple of new Firefox plugins showed up in response to that bit of presumption.
These mechanisms track everyone, including minors/children. Children have a right to clean and nice internet access, and also have to be protected from tracking so their data is not floating around in databases for evildoers to locate. Hey stop spying on my kids!
Over time, the patterns of your searches and surfing is built up, click by click, in databases such as those on the back end of the large data mining concerns. Spying on you a huge business. So-called 'opt out' functions administered by industry folks mean very little, and the industry is always getting caught in scandals and public lies about privacy, which are explained away as 'we were hacked' or 'it was an error'. The dog ate my homework. Best to put some preventive measures in place on your side.
These programs were tested on a Windows 7+AMD PC and probably will work on XP, as previous versions were used on XP for many years.
These are free and should only be obtained by going first to the original site, otherwise on third party sites they may have packaged other potentially unwanted things with the one you actually want; and in any case with free software, be sure that you say "no" to anything additional that may try to install with it, for example the Google Toolbar, Bing, bogus 'pc cleaners', system checkers, and other mojo. If you did not ask that specific download, do not accept it no matter how good it may seem! It might not be the real Google Toolbar in there, but a faked copy with a virus inside and your anti-virus may not see it. Just say no. If you want those things, get them directly from the orignal provider. Google Toolbar comes from... Google. Get it nowhere else. By the way google Toolbar and a bunch of the other toolbars, pc accelerators, and the rest are including built-in tracking systems, so just don't even go there. Google make as a lot of money from tracking so it is natural to them to insert 'spyware' in 'free' programs. See the privacy policies for every software you install and also look up 'web analytics'.
There are much worse things than spyware. Keep in mind that if a site or download has secreted something into the installer un-asked-for, that there is a reason for that. Maybe because no one in their right mind wants it, or maybe because it's a really bad thing and once installed, will bring more slimy, sticky things in secretly without your permission and perhaps even give them your rights, perhaps your administrator rights. A pestilence of evil tricks and bad programs! No one wants that.
Back to the harmless spying and cookies, ads, etc., it's all legal, more or less, but people have a choice about the spying and ads, and may not realize it. They also have a choice of some alternative programs that may work better and have less annoyanes than what comes with a computer.
Some Helpful Programs:
Video Player for all videos, and indeed for playing DVDs and the rest, try the free VLC player. You've always had the right to watch media without excessive annoyances and skip through any unwanted previews and come-ons.
DVD backup tool To back up many popular DVD videos you have bought, try MyFFVideoConverter www.ffmpeg.org. Some DVDs go bad, who knows why. Back up your stuff. If you paid for it, back it up. If not, then don't make copies for yourself of things you didn't pay for. That would be stealing, and is not something we do here or something we want to know about.
CDROM backup tool for Audio CDs you have bought, fre:ac the free audio encoder from www.freac.org works well for backing them up. Same thing, it's a backup tool.
Search Tool Use Agent Ransack, a free search tool that will find your stuff in a flexible and fast way that the standard/provided programs sometimes don't. It does not index, but in some cases the computer owner may not want to have indexing running. It will not conflict with Microsoft search or indexer, so there's a nice choice of using both. The same program is available with a 'less frightening' name for corporate users.
Never see ads: Prevent your PC from downloading or showing most advertisements. You pay for access to the web, why are you seeing ads? When you visit a web page, code there pulls the ads to your PC from 3rd party advertising servers using -your- bandwidth and -your- storage and memory. Block them with MVPS HOSTS. It is not a program but a text based lookup table that is natural to the 'pc' and consumes no resources. When a web site tells your browser to request an ad from 'adserver.com' for example, this is redirected to a standard 'blank internet adress' inside the PC, where there is 'nothing'. So this blocks ad servers, but not all tracking. Don't worry, there is something for personal tracking farther down.
Surf Anonymously well no one can be totally anonymous, but Tor Browser works by routing your browsing traffic through several servers each one hiding your IP address from prying eyes. As long as your ISP isn't tapped and are not hiding from the CIA or the Illuminati, it is adequate. So, it works for most people quite well. Tor is based on Mozilla.
Clean out the PC with this free software, by Piriform, that does a good job. Not a bogus one. CCleaner can remove old entries from the registry and other wasteful things like temporary files, files left over from botched installs, and the rest. It's best used by someone who knows what a computer is, but it does not take a genius to operate. I liked that so much I donated money. Actually have donated funds to several of these providers. If you use it, send a few bucks.
About web browsers: Where possible, use Mozilla Firefox. Both Internet Explorer and Chrome are wonderful and well-engineered browsers, but they don't offer the PC operator as much choice about limiting the ads and spying. The PC operator had best stop it right at the PC and not rely on others to make the choices. Mozilla is dedicated to that cause: Control and Authority over the computer owner's "web experience" rightfully belongs in the hands of the computer owner, not in the hands of corporations and web entities.
Mozilla/Firefox ad-ons: A list our staff recommends is given at the bottom of this screen. But first you need Mozilla Firefox. These help you avoid ads, stop the spying, continue to right-click, copy and paste, avoid unseemly messes in the PC as garbage left by web sites, and generally do what you want, not what someone else wants. That's the way the web was before it got so pedestrian and greedy, and that's the way we insist on keeping it for ourselves. See, we never agreed to suffer for its degredation. Call me a romantic. We, the 4th shift PC operators of the world, have to stop it ourselves, at our own computers. It's really simple to do.
Be aware that nearly all 'free e-mail' providers now store and keep and analyze every thing you do in their site. every e-mail, every image, every attached file. What are they doing this for? google. yahoo, AT&T, hotmail.. Same for social networking sites. Check the terms of service and privacy policies. You may be surprised. Or filled with horror. Keep only harmless relevant e-mails in the online web-mail. Never store e-mails there that have information about purchases, accounts, personal info, passwords, possibly embarassing topics, photos, or anything else. Copy those messages to Word or Notepad and also save the pictures on your disk drive locally, and then promptly erase the e-mails online, deleting them from the online system. If an e-mail is stored over 90 days, certain rights accrue to the web-mail provider to use them as they wish. Don't wait 90 days, not even 9 days. Do this daily, keep the thing cleaned out of anything important. It is far better to use "POP3 e-mail" in which messages are deleted from the server as soon as you have received them to the local e-mail program (client) on your computer.
Better Operating Systems: Lastly (before the firefox add-ons), and this is for those more expert with computers who may have already been using o/s other than Microsoft and Apple and who are not afraid to try new things, there is a super-secure and hackproof* operating system called OpenVMS (pronounced "VMS") that runs on computers that HP makes. HP bought Compaq, who bought DEC (digital equipment corporation). So, the right box might have any of these names on it.
Using this o/s exempts you from being hacked and from a lot of other annoyances. It offers the best security available, has been around since about 1980, has been constantly updated over the decades, and was built as a secure o/s from the start. There has not been an instance of hacking it since Kevin Mitnick released an internet worm in the early 1980's. Not one. By its architecture it is not possible to hack unless you have a login with the proper rights. And that's not hacking, it's stealing a login from someone and logging in.
We took a VMS desktop computer to DEFCON9, and exposed it openly on a network to 5000+ of the world's best hackers for a couple of days, and no one got in. I thought that was worth mentioning. VMS is expensive for commercial use but a free hobbyist license is available. And I mean, these are the greatest and most skilled hackers, black and white hat.. It was the chiefest among them that pronounced it 'unhackable', not I. I know they had fun attacking it.
The older computers of this kind are cheap. It's fast, even when running the windowed desktop (does command line too, with a huge command versatility, for all the nerds. In fact, thousands of programs have been written in just the command line language, DCL). So, a 670MHz DEC Alpha, a 64 bit machine, is plenty. I have one of those and it seems to do math (pi calc) as fast or bette than as a 2GHz Intel PC. It's used as a safe place to store my important data. This site, bunkerofdoom.com, ran on that machine for over 10 years and I never had to reboot it or worry about hackers. It doesn't crash. I think the uptime record may be held by the Irish National Railway, which is said to have logged an unbroken 17 years running on OpenVMS version 3.2. The system got walled up in a building by mistake during remodeling construction and was found, still doing this work, after the elapsed time. The only reason bunkerofdoom.com was moved from the local VMS box to a remote host was the local bandwidth. As the site became more popular the ADSL was not enough. Anyway it was fun and without worry.
As promised: the List of Useful Mozilla Add-Ons, or "extensions"
In Mozilla firefox, click "tools"->"ad-ons"->"get add-ons".
Columner - controls a web page width display in the local browser. Some are too wide and you get a left-right scroll bar at the bottom. This lets you shrink them horizontally. Not everyone runs a 1920+ monitor, but sometimes those sites get even wider.
FlashGot - enables one to save or download files from popular sites like YouTube and others. Cute Kittycat videos from my old home in Brussels! Cat videos from Portugal too! Man they have a lot of cats in Albufiera!
Multicolumn Bookmarks - Displays your bookmarks in columns. If you have too many, it's helpful not to have to scroll them.
ReloadEvery - stops most timeouts by reloading the page every 5 seconds to 15 minutes or custom time.
Remove Google Tracking - Bypasses the google (spy/tracking mechanism) redirect when googled results are clicked on. Looks like it got rid of some ads too. nice.
Yahoo Mail Hide Ad Panel - exactly what it says. Ads don't show up and take up your e-mail display space. I did not mind ads from Yahoo, as it is 'free', but lately I saw one too many of them that I considered personally insulting. Yes a targeted ad can be even more insulting than when it is not targeted. So that is how it goes, I will not look at any more ads there.
*hackproof: anything can be hacked if you have it in hand.. but over the network is another story.