How to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)

What is a PUP?

A PUP is an acronym (and abbreviation) for a potentially unwanted program, otherwise known as a possibly unwanted program, grayware, riskware, offerware, or bloatware. A PUP is not necessarily malware or a computer virus and is commonly categorized as adware, browser hijackers, dialiers, remote tools, scareware, and/or spyware. Other abbreviated terms that are close to PUPs are PUMs and PUAs, or potentially unwanted modifications and potentially unwanted applications.

what is a PUP

Many Antivirus and Anti-Malware software will detect PUPs after an initiated scan as a result. Some PUPs look like Optional.PUP, PUP.Spyware, Adware.PUP, and more. For example, the reputable Malwarebytes Anti-Malware program will detect adware in a scan as PUP.Optional.GoPhoto.A and will give the user an option to remove the PUP or ignore the item.

Sometimes it seems that items that are considered malware are also identified as PUPs or potentially unwanted programs in order to avoid legal issues or threats from the developers and distributors of the items. This means, some potentially unwanted programs may indeed be very dangerous.

A PUP is not a computer virus, though many third-parties and public users may detail a potentially unwanted program as a virus (ie: PUP virus).

How do potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) get onto a computer?

Potentially unwanted programs are very common. Most of the time potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) are accidentally installed by the computer user during the installation of freeware and shareware.

Software distribution websites such as are notorious for bundling PUPs with their downloadable content. If you chose to download and install software from CNET’s website you will be prompted to accept or decline offers to install additional software such as adware, browser add-ons and extensions (that cause browser redirects), scareware, and spyware.

Websites like and others are paid each time they successfully get a user to install a PUP to their computers and will earn commission if the user is to purchase a full version of any free trial software such as scareware or general trial software.

Since this is the case you will often notice the interface of the and other Download Managers change; making it more confusing and harder for users to avoid installing PUPs. An example of this is the constantly changing Download Manager/Installer interface that as of a few months ago removed the “cancel” option of their software that was visible during the additional offer process.’s Installer interface also changes the “Next” button to “Accept” immediately after the “Next” button is clicked when users agree to install the software in order to possibly get users to accidentally install more potentially unwanted programs (which ultimately equals more money for the distributor). The Download Manager/Installer was not always designed this way; However, as times change the website has analyzed their free services and user interaction to optimize their revenue.

Many freeware and shareware distribution websites often take after, like, although Softonic utilizes a much more aggressive marketing approach.

Many PUPs are also contracted via advertisements, suspicious links, and even torrents on websites like thepiratebay.

   Green Arrow Bullet   How to remove PUPs (Removal Guide)

  1. Automatically remove PUPs – Scan for and automatically remove PUPs and third-party malware
  2. Manually remove PUPs – Remove/Uninstall PUPs and third-party malware (if necessary)
  3. For Tech Support – Call 1-888-879-0084 and they will kindly assist you with removing this infection

1. Automatic PUP virus removal

Use the instructions below to automatically remove PUPs and third-party malware, as well as automatically remove unwanted search engines from your installed internet browsers.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

1. We highly recommend writing down the toll free number below in case you run into any issues or problems while following the instructions. Our techs will kindly assist you with any problems.

if you need help give us a call

2. Install the free or paid version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Purchase   Download

3. Once Malwarebytes is installed, run the program. If you are using the free version of Malwarebytes you will be prompted to update the database, make sure to do so.

Malwarebytes Perform Full Scan

4. On the first tab labeled “Scanner” select the Perform full scan option and click the Scan button to perform a full system scan. Malwarebytes will automatically detect PUPs and malware infecting the computer system.

how to remove PUPs

5. Once the malware scan is complete, Malwarebytes may prompt a notice stating malicious objects were detected. Select the malicious objects and click the Remove Selected button to completely remove the malicious files from your computer. To remove multiple PUPs at once, left click the list of PUPs and select “Check all items.”


CCleaner can be used to automatically repair internet browser settings startup up settings, and uninstall potentially unwanted software.

1. Install the free or paid version of CCleaner by Piriform.

Purchase CCleaner for $24.95*   Free Download

CCleaner Analyze Cleaner

2. Once installed, open the program and navigate to Cleaner > Windows/Applications and click the Analyze button. Afterwards, click the Run Cleaner button on the bottom right of the program interface.

CCleaner Startup

3. Next, navigate to Tools > Startup and search through each tab starting from windows, internet explorer, etc., all the way to Content Menu, for additional suspicious entries and click Disable and Delete once anything is found.

4. To automatically uninstall PUPs navigate to the Uninstall tab and search for the PUP in the list of installed programs. Uninstall the unwanted software as selected by clicking the Run Uninstaller button.

2. Manual PUP virus removal

Use the instructions below to manually uninstall PUPs and third-party software using Microsoft Windows removal procedures. 

How to uninstall PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs)

1. Access Windows Start Menu and navigate to the Control Panel.

Uninstall a program

2. Click Uninstall a program or Add and remove a program.

3. In the list of installed programs search for potentially unwanted software. Once the PUP is located, double click the unwanted program(s) or highlight them in the list and click the Uninstall button.

How to remove PUP add-ons and extensions

Use the instructions to remove PUP add-ons, extensions, plug-ins, and toolbars. Please note, it may be necessary to remove multiple third-party items.

Google Chrome

1. Click on the Customize icon (wrench or 3 bar icon) next to the address bar and navigate to Tools > Extensions.

2. Search for the PUP extension and remove it by clicking the trashcan icon next to them.

Mozilla Firefox

1. Type Ctrl+Shift+A.

2. On the Extensions and Plugin search for the PUP add-on and remove it.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

1. Click Tools and select Manage add-ons.

2. On the Toolbars and Extensions tab search for the PUP add-on and remove it if located.

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Sean Doyle

Sean Doyle is an engineer from Los Angeles, California. Sean's primary focuses include Internet Security, Web Spam, and Online Marketing.