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Why do I end up in the wrong place when I click on a link?


Lately, it seems like when I click on a link, I’m redirected to someplace I don’t want to be. Using IE, I click on the little down arrow next to the forward button and I see a redirect listed. Then, I must click below that and click on where I originally desired to go in the first place. This is a real pain in the you know where. Is there anything I can do
about it? Thanks!

In this excerpt from
Answercast #5
, I explore redirects and how to analyze why they are occurring
on your computer.

This can be a sign of malware.

Using the down arrow (next to your forward and back buttons) is a good way to see where you’ve been and determine if these are qualified or malicious redirects.


How the forward button works

Interestingly, I’m a little confused that you’re using the Forward button because that implies that you’ve already clicked Back once. The Forward button only really becomes active once you’ve hit the Back button. It basically allows you to step backwards through the pages that you’ve visited. The Forward button then lets you retrace steps forward until you get to the last page that you have visited.

Using the little Down arrow next to the Forward button is an interesting approach to understanding what pages you’re about to go to.

To really understand what’s happening to you, I’d have to understand just what that interstitial page is. What is that page that’s getting inserted in front of where it is you want to go?

In most cases, I have to assume that it’s probably some form of malware, specifically adware. To have a more qualified opinion, I would have to know just what that page was.

Might be malware or adware

I have seen malware insert itself in such a way that you end up literally, as you say, on some other page that you did not intend to go to.

The malware can insert itself on your machine and thus, infect your browser links when you try to go somewhere.

It’s also occasionally possible that the malware can infect the server that you’re trying to go to. For instance, if it’s only for some links (or only for some links going to a particular server) that take you somewhere other than where you expect, the problem may be on the actual website.

Finally, there’s another scenario where your router actually gets infected. There are some forms of malware that, while they infect your machine, their intent is to go out and get administrative access to your router and actually change the DNS or the mapping of which site goes where.

So those are all things to look at. I do have an article on securing your router. I would certainly suggest that. I don’t think that it’s happening in this particular case based on what you’ve described, but it’s something worth making sure you’ve covered.

Some redirections are valid

Now, I do want to point out that there is a valid scenario for this. You should not end up on an unexpected page, but there are definitely valid scenarios where the link you’re about to go to does not appear to be the link you think it’s going to be. I do this on Ask Leo! all the time. These are called tracking links. So you may actually experience this legitimately.

Typically, I redirect when I point people to a utility: I’ll use Process Explorer as an example.

Process Explorer has a page out on the website, but when I link to it, I do not link to the Process Explorer page on the Microsoft website. I actually link to

That is a utility that I’ve got that says, “OK, ‘procexp.’ As soon as you see that, redirect to a certain page on the Microsoft website.” The reason I do that is twofold. One, it lets me count how many people are clicking on that Process Explorer link; it tells me how popular things are and how are important things are to people (and for the record, Process Explorer turns out to be pretty important.)

The other thing, though, is that it allows me to change where that link goes to should Microsoft ever change the location of their page; and that’s happened.

Process Explorer is a wonderful example. Originally, Process Explorer was a page on the website. Microsoft bought SysInternals and had all of those pages moved to the Microsoft domain. All I needed to do was to update the destination associated with this little shortcut called “procexp” and all of the links, regardless of where I had posted them, continued to work and pointed to the correct target that had changed.

Google redirects

Google does this as well. Typically, when you click on a Google search result, your browser actually goes to some kind of click-tracking link that Google then uses to understand which link you went to, which ones are most popular, and which ones are the most useful to you. Google then uses that information to (presumably) improve its search results. It’s Google’s way of understanding which of the ten things that it showed you that you were the most interested in.

So, there are lots of scenarios where the link that you’re going to actually might look a little different before you click on it. Again, in your case, since you’re landing on something other than what you expect, I’m not certain that’s what’s happening here. In all of the cases that I think that are valid, you’ll actually land on the page you intend to land on. It will just have gone through an intermediary to either make sure that the destination could be updated or that the click can be counted.

Next – Can I use my IP address to connect to my computer without Remote Desktop?

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1 thought on “Why do I end up in the wrong place when I click on a link?”

  1. It could very well be malware. A couple of years back when i still had my xp computer, every time i used google i would get redirected to sites other than the one i wanted. Weird thing is i could use any search engine other than google and i wouldn’t get redirected.

    On top of this redirect happening when i would boot up my computer even before starting a browser i would hear commercials like two or three different ones at the same time one of them sounded like a radio broadcast.

    The virus, adware or malware scanners i used didn’t find anything. At the time i was using Malwarebytes, I went to their forum i had to use Hijackthis this to find the problem.

    Well i got all the problems fixed thanks to Malwarebytes. The only thing wrong after all was fixed was, when i clicked on my computer, in the list of drives my cd-rw drive was missing so i could not reformat my computer. Needless to say i bought me a new computer, after all my xp computer was pushing close to 9 years old i didn’t think it would have been worth it to put in in the shop.

    This is something worth checking into if they are getting redirected a lot. Either that or reformat and reinstall.


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