Posted by: kurtsh | October 9, 2011

INFO: Uninstalling Ghostery for Internet Explorer 9.0

imageA while back I was trying a browser add-in for Internet Explorer 9.0 called “Ghostery”.  Basically, it displays what “tracking” services are being used on you whenever you visit a web site.  The simple explanation is that it monitors the Javascript on each web site for known tracking cookies & techniques & blocks them if you wish. 

For example, whenever you go to a web site using tracking services like “Doubleclick” or “Google AdSense”, your actions and details are transmitted to a central site, completely separately from the web site you’re visiting.  So if you visit Galpin Toyota’s web site, you might enter your zip code.  If you go to you might enter your birthdate to be allowed to access certain areas.  In you might enter your sex.  These tracking services will aggregate that you are a 35 year old Male from Los Angeles, CA – and continue to learn more about you depending on what other sites you visit using the same tracking service. 

Ghostery would tell you what tracking service was being used and allow you to specifically BLOCK that tracking service.  Cool ‘eh?

The problem was, Ghostery could REALLY slow down your browser.  I found that pages could take 2x-3x as long to bring up as Ghostery would rifle through the Javascript to produce a summary of what services were in use.

Worse yet, in many cases Ghostery became very difficult to remove from your system.  On several systems, simply using “CONTROL PANEL – PROGRAMS & FEATURES –> GHOSTERY [UNINSTALL]” wouldn’t remove the plug in.  IE would still load the plug in, the registry entries for the plug in would remain, etc.

The alternative is to use IE9’s Tracking Protection which would allow you to ‘subscribe’ to a list of services to block – by default.  This list evolves and expands as time goes by and your browser automatically pulls in the new list to block these service’s cookies & trackers.

It basically comes down to following this rather sloppy process:

  1. Open Internet Explorer. 
  2. Open TOOLS – Manage Add-Ons
  3. Right click on “Ghostery” & select ‘Disable’
  4. Right click on “Ghostery BHO” & select ‘Disable’
  5. Close Internet Explorer & shutdown your computer.
  6. Power it up again and hold F8.  You should start in the SAFE MODE here.
  7. Login and go to c:\program files (x86)\GhosteryIEplugin
  8. Delete the folder
  9. Reboot

This leaves behind the reference to Ghostery in "Manage Add Ins" but at least the plug ins aren’t loading any more so they won’t slow down your browser.

This would really be a valuable plug in for Internet Explorer 9.0 if it was faster & executed an uninstall cleanly.  I really hope they fix the uninstall procedure for IE & improve the plug in performance in the future.  It seems like such a great idea to provide real-time notification of privacy concerns to the end user but it’s really hard to justify using Ghostery considering it’s issues versus using IE9’s built-in Tracking Protection.


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