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Potentially Unwanted Programs, also known as PUPs, are junkware, adware, toolbars and other unwanted software that can get into your computer system by, usually, underhand methods.


Most PUPs are installed inadvertently (or carelessly) by users. PUPs often piggy-back with genuine (normally free) software and will try to obscure their presence. A first step in avoiding PUPs is to assume that anything you are about to install comes bundled with something else. Then to be vigilant during the installation process – don’t just click through without checking every single screen.


There are some instances where unscrupulous developers bundle toolbars and other junkware surreptitiously without providing any indication or options to decline - these PUPs are almost impossible to avoid, but they are generally the exceptions rather than the norm. Most developers provide options to avoid any bundled extra programs although, in many cases, they will still try to obscure them.


Here’s what you can do to keep out the PUPs …


When installing software never accept the default “Express” or “Standard” installation setting, even when it is labeled “Recommended”.  If this setting is available then there should also be a “Custom” or “Advanced” option as well - this is the one you need to select. Using the Express/Standard installation option will skip the screens offering decline options and just go ahead and install everything, including any bundled PUPs. Using the Custom/Advanced installation option should ensure that you get to choose what is installed and what isn’t.


Watch out for pre-ticked options such as … Install xxxxxx (Recommended)  … or … Make xxxxxx my default search provider … Make sure you spot any of these and un-tick them.


If a screen appears that is attempting to install software other than the one you want, always select the option to reject or decline the installation. Again, look carefully, because often the button to decline has been misleadingly “greyed-out”, usually an indication that it’s inactive, but it’s not and this is the button you need to click to stop the PUP being loaded.


Finally, if you think that PUPs have got into your system, you can try to uninstall them. From Control Panel, select Uninstall a program. Find the rogue program and Uninstall. Most PUPs will go quietly but some can put up more resistance. If that happens then you may need to seek out some professional help.