Galaxy Note9 keeps showing ad popups or maintenance apps

One of the common problems for many Galaxy Note9 users is having to deal with ads or ad popups. Usually, these popups are brought about by bad apps or malware so the best troubleshooting to do is simply wipe the phone with factory reset. Alternatively, you can also try to remove apps individually after confirming the issue with Safe Mode procedure. For more details, refer to our suggestions below.

Problem: Galaxy Note9 keeps showing ad popups or maintenance apps

I downloaded a few antivirus app after I responded to a scam. That was about a month ago or so. Now for the past few days I have been getting full page device maintenance notices, i.e. “cooling or cleaning” then one or two full page ads. These pages pop-up anytime, when I am writing a text or reading an article. I have tried to uninstall all maintenance apps but it still keeps happening. I am in safe-mode now, but I don’t know what I am looking for…

Solution: One of the tactics used by malware developers is to trick users into believing that their device is infected by a virus or needs cleaning or maintenance and they need to install a particular app to help resolve it. You’ve apparently fallen into that trap so there are two ways that you can do to fix that.

Identify the bad app

In many cases, ad popups are is the result of having installed a bad app. To fix the problem, it’s usually necessary to go to the root cause by removing the problem app. To help you do that, you need to first confirm if there’s indeed a bad app issue. You can do that by restarting the phone to safe mode. In this mode, all third party apps or the apps you downloaded will be blocked. So, if there are no popups when your Note9 runs on safe mode, that’s a confirmation of our hunch. Afterwards, you can then begin the process of identifying which of your apps is to blame.

To restart your Note9 to safe mode, follow these steps:

  1. Turn the device off.
  2. Press and hold the Power key past the model name screen.
  3. When “SAMSUNG” appears on the screen, release the Power key.
  4. Immediately after releasing the Power key, press and hold the Volume down key.
  5. Continue to hold the Volume down key until the device finishes restarting.
  6. Safe mode will display in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  7. Release the Volume down key when you see Safe Mode.
  8. Observe the phone and check for the problem.

As mentioned above, if there are no ads or popups at all while on safe mode, that’s the cue that you have a bad app issue. You must then use the method of elimination to pinpoint the problem app. There’s no direct way to help you identify the culprit so you need patience in narrowing down the suspected apps. Begin by uninstalling the latest app you’ve installed. If removing that app won’t change the situation, move to the next one. Once the popups stop after uninstalling an app, that’s the sign that you’ve deleted the cause of the problem. Make sure not to reinstall that app again.

To identify which of your apps is causing the trouble, you should boot the phone back to safe mode and follow these steps:

  1. Boot to safe mode.
  2. Check for the problem.
  3. Once you’ve confirmed that a third party app is to blame, you can start uninstalling apps individually. We suggest that you begin with the most recent ones you added.
  4. After you uninstall an app, restart the phone to normal mode and check for the problem.
  5. If your Note9 still shows popups, repeat steps 1-4.

Factory reset

The best way to remove malware or bad apps is by wiping the phone with factory reset. Then, once you’ve returned all software settings to their defaults and deleted all apps, you can begin filtering your apps, making sure that you only add back the ones from reputable developers. If popups return after installing your apps, that means you missed the bad one. In this case, you can do another round of factory reset and filter your apps once again.

To factory reset your Note9:

  1. Create a backup of your personal data.
  2. Turn off the device.
  3. Press and hold the Volume Up key and the Bixby key, then press and hold the Power key.
  4. When the green Android logo displays, release all keys (‘Installing system update’ will show for about 30 – 60 seconds before showing the Android system recovery menu options).
  5. Press the Volume down key several times to highlight ‘wipe data / factory reset’.
  6. Press Power button to select.
  7. Press the Volume down key until ‘Yes — delete all user data’ is highlighted.
  8. Press Power button to select and start the master reset.
  9. When the master reset is complete, ‘Reboot system now’ is highlighted.
  10. Press the Power key to restart the device.

Prevent bad apps from being installed

You are the first line of defense of your phone. If you carelessly install whatever app you want, there’s a chance that you’ll eventually infect your phone. When picking an app, it’s important that you take note of the maker of that app. Building an app, however simple, requires resources. There’s no such thing as “free” app and some developers may design their products so as they can gain something in return when a user installs them. If permitted, apps can gather personal data, spy on your browsing habit, or collect other information that can be sold to other parties. Some bad apps can go to lengths of hijacking a system so as to allow ads or popups to regularly be displayed. This scheme can generates money for the developer but can be very annoying or frustrating for a device user.

If you don’t want intrusive ad popups on your device, make sure that you only install apps that are not designed to hijack the system. Since there’s no direct way for you to know which app is good or bad, you must be very careful when picking them. One way to do that is by checking the reviews of other users for the said app before you install it. Another way is by doing some research regarding an app’s developer. You can use Google for that. In general, stay away from apps made by unknown or suspect developers. The less app you install, the lesser the chance of having a problem on your device.

Use antivirus app

There’s a constant cat-and-mouse battle between good guys and bad guys in Android world. Still, we highly recommend that you install one good antivirus app on your device to help prevent installation of bad apps. Make sure that you only have one as having two or more can severely lead to performance issues.