Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)
A Potentially Unwanted Program or PUP is an application that’s noted for characteristics that may make it undesirable even if it’s not overtly malicious or harmful to your PC. PUPs often overlap with adware, which may install themselves via dishonest methods, resist normal uninstall methods or lack useful features (since displaying advertisements is not, for most PC users, considered a positive feature). Some PUPs may engage in activities that may cause security issues for your PC indirectly, such as monitoring certain types of information or displaying potentially-dangerous pop-ups, and SpywareRemove.com malware researchers usually recommend that you delete a PUP if you’re not certain that you want its features. However, Potentially Unwanted Programs are not technically-classified as trojans or any other type of malware, even though they can frequently be removed by anti-malware programs that detect similar PC threats heuristically.
Favored Installation Methods for PUPs
Potentially Unwanted Programs may be promoted on home websites, but, in most cases, PUPs are installed via being bundled with unrelated programs. Movie players, peer-to-peer downloading clients and other media-related applications that are often freely-distributed are compromised frequently by adding PUPs and adware to their installation processes and then setting up the link for these packages on separate websites. For these reasons, minimizing your potential exposure to PUPs can be done most efficiently if you avoid downloading applications from websites other than their official and trustworthy sources. Most such applications will include PUP-free alternatives, although these versions may not always be the ‘official’ version of the program.
In some cases, installation routines that include PUPs also include means to avoid these extras, although they must be selected manually. Some examples of Potentially Unwanted Programs that are distributed by this method and similar ones include Boxore, the Babylon Toolbar, wxDownload Fast (wxDFast) and PigSearch, while PUPs that prefer to distribute themselves independently include Actual Spy and Keylogger Pro.
What a PUP Means for Your Computer
Prominent subcategories of Potentially Unwanted Programs include browser add-ons, web search enhancers, emoticon (smiley face) packages, adware and voluntary forms of spyware (for monitoring the computer habits of your children and other dependents). Specific symptoms and issues that often arise from having a Potentially Unwanted Program include:
- Reduced system resources due to the PUP launching itself and conducting its functions automatically. In resource-restricted systems, this may hinder your operating system’s performance. Some types of PUPs closely keep track of web-browsing activities, which can result in altered or slowly-loading web content.
- An increase in unrelated advertisements that are displayed through pop-up windows, keywords, sidebars or even additional search engine results.
- In cases of ‘benevolent’ spyware products, keystrokes from your keyboard and other information may be monitored continuously. These types of PUPs usually attempt to avoid notice and will only display themselves obviously to the PC user who installed the PUP in the first place.
- Some Potentially Unwanted Programs may not include uninstall methods or may not uninstall themselves completely. SpywareRemove.com malware researchers recommend that you use anti-malware products whenever it’s necessary to delete a PUP, since PUPs include many characteristics in common with PC threats.
Is Your PC Infected with Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)?
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There are currently 1,846 potentially unwanted programs (pups) program(s) in our database.