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Browser extensions can make your life better. But they can also be hiding nefarious secrets — using lots of system resources, collecting your data, installing adware, and otherwise not doing what you want them to do.
It’s hard to keep track of which extensions have been caught abusing their privileges, but you should definitely uninstall these 10 as soon as possible.
1. Adblock Plus
ABP is one of the most popular extensions for Chrome, but it’s also one of the most resource-intensive. It does a great job blocking ads, but the price you pay in CPU and memory usage isn’t worth it. A number of benchmarking tests have found that ABP, while very effective, is the least efficient when it comes to resource usage.
If you must use an adblocker — and we encourage you to consider the question of adblockers carefully — we recommend a lighter-weight alternative, like uBlock Origin, AdGuard, or Ghostery. And if you do decide to keep running ABP, make sure you do what you can to reduce Chrome’s resource consumption.
It used to be the best way to watch different countries’ Netflix movies, but Hola was outed as basically a giant botnet system. Users’ bandwidth was being sold to cover operating costs for the free service, and someone had scammed the system.
Hola has tried to distance itself from this sort of behavior, and according to their blog, the bandwidth load is only about 6 MB per day. They also vet their enterprise customers to make sure you’re not being used as a tool in a crime. But lots of people don’t know that they’re trading their bandwidth to Hola’s commercial customers. Better to be on the safe side and trash this extension.
It’s an extension called “FindMeFreebies”… which probably makes you think that it will find you free stuff online. It’s a reasonable assumption. But all it does it change your home page to FindMeFreebies.com, which advertises a free-stuff finder. It looks like it installs a toolbar, too.
This company has a ton of apps like this, and they integrate with third-party services that Mindspark (the developer) takes no responsibility for. It just looks shady all around.
While this extension promises to help you compare prices and find coupons, reviews indicate that it actually doesn’t do anything at all. And that it’s difficult or impossible to remove. Also, the app store description states that it provides anonymous URL information to third parties.
Does that sound like a good way to save money on online shopping? I didn’t think so. If you have this one and haven’t deleted it yet, you should do that now.
5. Website Destroyer
Destroying websites sounds like a lot of fun, but this extension isn’t a great way to do it. It certainly does what it says — lets you blow up sites using a variety of weapons — but it doesn’t tell you that it offers other weapons for sale in an attempt to make money.
If you really want to spend time blowing up some sites, use the Kick Ass bookmarklet instead. It’s simple, free, won’t use up browser resources, and lets you design your own ships. You should probably be doing something more productive anyway, but when you absolutely need to destroy a website, Kick Ass is the way to go!
6. Super Browse for Netflix
Many internet denizens made a big deal about Netflix’s “secret categories” a while back, and the developers of this extension are doing their best to cash in on that excitement. It’s a useful extension, but it also costs $1.99 per year. That’s not much, but when you can use the codes manually, why not save yourself the money?
Bookmark your favorite categories instead, or just memorize a few of the codes that you use on a regular basis. You can do both of those things for free in about five minutes, instead of having a recurring subscription fee.
7. Autocopy Original
This extension automatically copies text that you highlight so you don’t have to click Copy or hit Ctrl + C. Unless you copy an insane amount of text, this just isn’t that useful. Add that to the fact that it’s made by a website that wants to sell you stuff, and it’s worth deleting.
Wips.com, the developer, says that their extensions collect and store “anonymous information about specific webpages,” which is quite nebulous.
8. Hover Zoom
Although it started as an honest and useful extension for viewing images, Hover Zoom was bought by a company that basically turned it into spyware. It collects and sells your data, and there isn’t anything you can do about it other than delete the extension.
We’ve talked about Hover Zoom before, but if you missed our previous warning, you should delete it now before it collects and more of your data.
Having your computer read an article or Wikipedia entry to you sounds like a pretty cool feature, doesn’t it? That’s what this extension offers. But it also got outed for collecting a huge amount of your information. Not good.
A number of users of the free version of SpeakIt! have stated that it also just doesn’t work very well. This has brought up some speculation that the free version only exists to get you to buy the pro one.
10. Any Antivirus Extension
Browser extensions from antivirus manufacturers very often exist solely to make the companies money. Your antivirus should be monitoring your web traffic already, so what do you need a browser extension for?
A number of these extensions have engaged in questionable behavior, from gathering a lot of information to recommending insecure browsers. There’s just no reason to use one, so get rid of them.
Time to Clean Out Your Extensions
As with anything else, you should periodically clean out your browser extensions, even if you’re confident that yours are well-behaved. Get rid of any you don’t remember installing, any that you don’t use anymore, and any that are on this list.
And if you know of other extensions that readers should avoid, tell us about them in the comments.
Do you use any of these Chrome extensions? Have you had bad experiences with others? Let us know which extensions we should avoid in the comments below!
Image Credits: OBprod/Shutterstock