Whenever you try to visit a page, any page, you’re immediately redirected to an “about:blank” page. Does that sound familiar? If so, then breathe a sigh of relief because you’ll learn why you’re getting this “about:page” and what you can do to fix it.

What is “About: Blank Page”?

On any normal, uneventful day, the About:blank page isn’t anything to worry about. If you use the URL yourself, you’ll just see a blank page. Unfortunately, if you had a run-in with malicious software–otherwise known as “malware”–infecting your browser, it can be a sign that your computer is being tampered with–to what degree is uncertain, but not impossible to rectify.

Uninstalling a Program from Your Computer

The first step you can take is uninstalling anything that appears suspicious, whether you’re using a Windows PC or MacOS. This only gives you the opportunity to clean out your device, but it provides a good look into what may be causing the error. While pinpointing the exact program that’s causing problems is difficult, and really any program could be, it’s best to start there.

Uninstall Programs with Windows

1. Start by opening your Windows Startup menu, the Windows logo located in the bottom left corner of your screen (by default) and along your taskbar. Or, alternatively, you can press the Windows key.

2. In your Windows Startup menu, search for “Control Panel.” When it appears in your search result, go ahead and click on it.

3. After Control Panel launches, focus on Programs. Underneath, click “Uninstall a Program.”

4. Now, before you start uninstalling programs, you can make it very easy on yourself by clicking on “Installed On.” This will organize your programs by the date they were installed. If it’s software that’s causing problems, you’ll want to start with recent programs.

5. Find a program you’re suspicious of–and don’t be afraid to search the program online–and then right click on it. In the drop down menu, choose Uninstall.

Uninstalling Programs with MacOS

1. Starting by clicking on Finder, the icon with the white and blue face. You can find it along your dock.

Devices

2. In the left hand column, explore your Mac’s contents under “Devices.” Open the Applications folder. Alternatively, you can click “Applications” if it appears in the left hand column as well (it depends on your computer).

3. Now, to remove an installed program you have two choices. Your first option is to drag and drop the program to your Trash. Your second option is to right click and choose “Move to Trash” in the drop down menu.

open Trash and delete the specific program

4. After it’s been moved to your Trash, either empty it completely or open Trash and delete the specific program.

Dumping Any Recently Downloaded Files

Sometimes it isn’t software that’s causing problems, sometimes it ends up being files you’ve downloaded to your computer. Your next step is to start dumping anything recently downloaded files to your computer and or handheld device. Think back to when the problem started and go from there.

You’ll want to focus hard on files you’ve downloaded from not so reputable places or movies and music you downloaded from the web (no one is judging here). There’s a reason pirating content often leads to malware and viruses.

Invest in Anti-Virus Software

In this day and age, viruses and malware can infect even the most careful of internet surfers. Unfortunately, it’s a side of the Internet you have to live with, and anti-virus software isn’t perfect.

However, choosing to forego your anti-virus software will put you at great risk, even if you practice safe internet surfing. They provide tools to combat viruses, malware, and so on without you ever lifting a finger and even letting you know when an attack has happened.

And if you are on the fence due to wanting to save system resources, don’t let that guide your decision. Most of the big names in anti-virus provide tools to schedule scans when you aren’t using your computer, providing you with all that saved system resources and only using them when available without bogging down your PC while it’s in use. Of course, that also doesn’t mean you can loosen your safe surfing habits; stick to those, too.

To start, check out Malwarebytes if you don’t want to invest in a program. It’s free and, if you like it, you can also upgrade. Its free version can remove malware and spyware, but if you want anything more than that, you’ll have to pay for it.

You also have services like Norton, Bitdefender and McAfee. After you’ve made the necessary changes, you should always run your anti-virus a second time, even if the first scan removed a virus or malware. Thoroughness is entirely warranted in this situation.

Preventing This From Happening Again

Chances are you picked this unfortunate error up from downloading a file, clicking on a bad link or visiting the wrong page. And that’s how they get you, those itty bitty mistakes. You aren’t the only one, nor will you be the last, to experience it.

Thankfully, there’s a number of tips and tricks that can prevent this problem from happening again.

  • Your browser matters. Browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge have protections in place that can block the majority of malware and phishing. Use it to your advantage.
  • Speaking of your browser, alter your security settings. If you use the “autofill” feature, consider disabling it. This provides an easy target since the data is already stored. Perhaps a hidden notebook or password manager software will work best.
  • Speaking of passwords, get crazy with them. Using passwords that contain personal information is probably one of the worst ideas for passwords in the history of passwords. Your personal information is often easily accessible and all it takes is some basic information, plugging it into a hacking program and they’ll have your passwords.
  • Don’t click on advertisements or download files from dubious sites. This is a given, and possibly the reason for your experience.