The beauty of having a computer and internet connection is the ability to download dozens of convenient, helpful, and useful programs. But it is always crucial to download all software directly from the official website or another reputable source. Unknowing users often turn to sketchy third-party download websites. They get their programs there for two main reasons:
- They don’t know that they shouldn’t
- They want to download a free version of a paid product or service
What makes third-party services risky? They often lace different software with malware, adware, or other unwanted programs. It can cause significant damage to your computer.
That’s why you need to be more educated on recognizing, avoiding, and removing Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). Here’s everything you need to know.
- 1 What Are Potentially Unwanted Programs?
- 2 How To Recognize And Avoid Installing Potentially Unwanted Programs?
- 3 How to Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs?
What Are Potentially Unwanted Programs?
Potentially Unwanted Programs are a form of junkware that usually ends up on a computer without the owner’s knowledge. There are many reasons why third-party services do this. They include:
- showing annoying ads,
- spying on users,
- accessing their data.
PUPs usually come in conjunction with software that one downloads from sketchy websites or Torrent services. Users often skim through the installation process and accept everything that’s offered. They don’t notice that they’re also installing some unwanted software.
Moreover, malicious actors are smart. They often include fine print somewhere in the Service Agreement, which users often don’t even look at.
How To Recognize And Avoid Installing Potentially Unwanted Programs?
You need to be extra careful when installing anything. If you notice that, all of a sudden —
- random ads flooded your computer,
- your browser has suspicious extensions and toolbars,
- you get emails from a service you never signed up for
— the chances are PUPs have infected your PC.
Moreover, if the performance of your computer suddenly drops, that’s a clear sign that something is wrong.
Here are some basic rules to keep in mind the next time you want to sign up for services or download anything from websites that aren’t reputable:
1.Download Only from Official Websites
Although already mentioned a couple of times throughout this article, somehow, users still forget about it. Always make sure to download software ONLY from official websites or licensed third-parties. That is the best way to avoid downloading any Potentially Unwanted Programs.
This is especially vital when downloading security software. Free virtual private network (VPN) or antivirus software doesn’t always have your interests at heart.
2.Recognize Weird Patterns
Check if the site has a lot of spelling and grammar errors. Or if it uses a domain name that is similar to a popular brand or company name, but with some differences. If that’s the case, the chances are that the website is malicious.
Also, does the suspicious website require any sensitive information? For example, your name, address, phone number, or payment info? Then get out of there as soon as possible.
3.Read All Instructions and Agreements
If everything seems fine, then you can proceed with the download. But do read all instructions, checkboxes, and user license agreements. Also, always read the fine print, because that’s where vital information usually is.
How to Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs?
If PUPs have infected your device somehow anyway, don’t worry. They are usually less dangerous than viruses and malware, but they’re still awfully annoying. Here’s what you can do to get rid of these pesky programs:
Uninstall It From Windows
This is the easiest fix that usually solves the issue. Open Windows Settings, go to Apps, and check every program that’s on the list. If you notice a suspicious program that shouldn’t be there, uninstall it.
Use Security Software To Locate And Remove It
Sometimes, you can’t remove PUPs with a simple uninstall. Then use antivirus or anti-malware software to locate and forcefully remove these pesky applications.
Reset The Browser Settings
If random toolbars, extensions, or search engines appear on your browser, you can remove it by restoring the browser to its original settings. You can do so by going to Settings and locating the Reset Browser Option.
Perform A Factory Reset
If everything else fails, you can always perform a factory reset. You can do this by going to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery Options > Reset this PC > Get Started.
You can remove most Potentially Unwanted Programs yourself. But it is much better to put in place security measures to prevent installing them in the first place. Enhance your computer’s safety by installing security software such as VPN, antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, and ad blocker, and you’ll be good-to-go.