Have you run into PUPs lately? No, not the cute and cuddly kind, but the annoying Potentially Unwanted Programs that Internet surfers frequently come across. These PUPs are almost like canines – sneaking their way into your home without you knowing. PUPs are commonly attached to free software you do want, tricking you to download the bloatware along with it. These programs affect your computer’s performance by slowing it down, eating up space, invading your privacy (collecting personal data) and allowing pop-ups. It seems like the majority of the free software out there comes with these PUPs, and if you don’t pay close attention and uncheck the boxes that give these programs permission, they could infect your computer.
Avoid Using the Standard Installation Option
It’s common for PUPs to be associated with programs for video players and video conversion programs, but they can also lurk in other software like antivirus programs and games. Whatever you are downloading to your computer, it’s important that you don’t get tricked by the false sense of security these install wizards tend to emit. During the beginning of the installation, everything seems pretty harmless, making you trigger happy as the process moves along. Make sure to pay close attention to the boxes that are displayed on each screen.
One way to avoid falling victim to the presets of installing wizards that exploit users via its free downloads is to do custom installations. Using the standard installation option seems like the way to go, especially when you aren’t familiar with installation processes. However, this is where PUPs infiltrate your PC. This option may also be called express installation or default installation. It’s easy to fall for this, especially when you only see the program you’re trying to install.
After choosing the custom installation selection, you may see options appear beneath it that ask about installing toolbars or setting homepages – all of which you didn’t see before and wouldn’t have until they were already installed on your PC. The funny thing is that the add-ons that are featured on these wizards have nothing to do with what you’re downloading.
Another way people are tricked into using standard installation settings is because next to it says recommended and next to custom, it says advanced. By believing that the custom installation is for advanced people, it scares you away from selecting that option. But in reality, the process is rather simple.
Don’t Fall for Shades of Gray
As you’re moving along your installation of the software, you may notice a window that asks you to either accept or not accept an offer, however, the “do not accept” option is gray. So automatically you think that you can’t select it. But don’t fall for this trick because it is indeed clickable. The programmers simply grayed it out, so that people would think they had no choice.
Don’t Accept Terms and Conditions & Read the Fine Print!
Another way these PUPs bombard their way onto your PC is by leaving you with no option. Like in the last tip, windows appear during the installation process that ask you whether you want to install a certain program. But there’s nowhere to say no or you’re unable to uncheck the option to install it.However, when you get to the window that asks you to accept the terms and conditions, you can uncheck this box and the program will not install.
By reading the fine print, you will see any hidden agendas of free software. Here, you will find other programs that are attached to the installation. This could help you to see what’s lurking in the software before you install it.
How to Get Rid of PUPs
If your PC is already bloated with PUPs and you want to get rid of them, there is a way to find and eliminate them. Three antivirus software companies in particular can be used:
- AVG: Once you install this software, protection from spyware and PUPs is already turned on. It works by detecting programs that could be potential security threats. It may even halt programs that are harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is especially so since trusted programs are being used to harness PUPs.
- Avast: This is free software that can protect your PC from PUPs. It’s important to turn on all three protection shields that are offered: File System Shield, Web Shield and Mail Shield. Make sure to enable the PUP protection, since by default it is turned off.
- Immunet: This antivirus software specializes in protecting your PC from spyware and viruses. It is based in the cloud, allowing it to work quickly to find and remove potentially harmful programs.
With a little common sense and the use of trusted antivirus software, you can safeguard your computer from annoying programs that are persistent and difficult to remove.