What Are Potentially Unwanted Programs

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What Are Potentially Unwanted Programs

What Are Potentially Unwanted Programs

Whether you’ve just run an antivirus scan and it mentioned potentially unwanted programs, you heard about it on the web, or you heard about it somewhere else, you’re probably wondering one thing. What are potentially unwanted programs? They are technically exactly what you might think from reading the title. You might want them, or you might not. The difference usually lies in whether you installed them on purpose while knowing exactly what they were or not. However, potentially unwanted programs can also encompass a number of different types of programs, which makes them a little bit more difficult to define than something like a keylogger. Instead, we will work on defining some types of potentially unwanted programs and then try to help you decide if the ones on your computer are wanted or not.

Potentially Unwanted Programs: What are They and Should You be Concerned?

Potentially unwanted programs are typically programs that have shown unsavory behavior in the past. Very common examples include the Ask.com toolbar, the Babylon toolbar, and similar (which coincidentally, are also listed as browser hijack applications). In other cases, a potentially unwanted program might show some of the characteristics of malware (keylogging, screen capture, remote administration, exploits, monitoring, adware, etc.) in this case, your antivirus may see a valid program license, which says that it is legitimate, but flag the application for the behavior. In many cases, you should only have this type of software on your computer if you got your computer from your workplace.

Do I Want to Keep Potentially Unwanted Programs?

Deciding whether or not you should keep your potentially unwanted programs or not can be tricky. However, you can usually make the decision on a case by case basis. You can use the following questions to decide whether or not to keep the program.

  1. Do I use the program? (If no, uninstall it immediately).
  2. Is it harming my computer?
  3. Did I install the program


  1. What does it do?
  2. Are you using it?
  3. What spammy behavior is it showing?
  4. Where did you install it from? If you installed it from a torrent site or non-official website, you may want to uninstall it and reinstall the official version. If it has been flagged simply because it’s showing ads, but you’re using it, then keep it.


  1. Is the computer from your workplace? If so, are they using software to provide remote support, access your activity, or otherwise verify that you are completing work?
  2. Is it your home computer? Uninstall the program immediately.
  3. Do you remember if you may have installed it as part of a packet download (ActiveX, when installing something and just clicking “Agree” mutltime times, etc.)


  1. What is the program doing?
  • Showing ads? – If it’s freeware that shows ads in exchange for free software, leave it. If you’re constantly getting popups, you may want to delete it.
  • Uploading data – Delete it
  • Tracking your computer – Delete it
  • Keylogging? – Delete it
  • Not sure? See question 1
  • Redirecting your browser? Delete it

Most PUT or Potentially Unwanted programs show up on your computer when you install them, but because they show some of the same behavior as malware, your antivirus will flag them. If you are familiar with the programs on your computer, know what you use, and know what you don’t, you can make informed decisions when you go to keep or delete these apps. In most cases, you can probably delete your Potentially Unwanted Program, unless you know for use that you use it.


Not sure about a program on your computer? Leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you with help.

About The Author
Proliferate writer, sesquipedalian, techie, Apple fangirl (don't judge),tree hugger, yogi, tea drinker, zombie hunter. Into philotherianism & philomathy. Love my job. Visit me on Google +

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