PuP’s or potentially unwanted programs are the #1 cause of slow and misbehaving computers we see here at Plumas PC. It seems that in rural communities, PuPs far exceed even the infection rates of cities (probably due to the lack of technology education and the older generation of people far outnumbering the younger generation).
A PuP is any program that promises one thing, but delivers something opposite; a program which promises good but delivers either poorly or not at all; a program that promises one thing but cripples your computer. While most PuPs are not trying to steal your identity, they can still be an incredible hindrance when trying to use your computer.
So why do PuP’s exist? PuPs usually rely on advertising, they place ads all over your computer to try and get you to click on them. Every time you click, the company who made the program gets paid, anywhere from a few pennies to a few quarters. That may not sound like much, but over time and with enough clicks, there is a treasure trove of money hidden away.
So how do we avoid potentially unwanted programs? To avoid PuP’s you need to understand how you get them. As a note, PuPs are also programs that you must choose to install on your computer, so if you get them, they are your own fault.
Let me explain how advertising works, advertising companies, like Google Adsense, look at the cookies in your browser for recent searches them post ads relevant to you. Other companies show only ads that the website chooses.
The ads that you have to look out for are ones that tell you things along the lines of ‘your registry is corrupted’ ‘fix registry errors now’ ‘speed up your pc’ ‘your drivers are out of date’ ‘fix missing and corrupted drivers now.’ Anything promising to fix your computer or speed it up, will most likely (99.99%) harm your computer. Advertisements/programs do not know if your computer is broken, they do not know how many problems your registry has and they do not know if your drivers are out of date, they don’t even know if your computer is running slow.
How many people take the time to read the installation software for a program? Very few! PuP companies have noticed this too, so they have been sneaking their software into installers for good programs (not really sneaking, they pay to be in them) in hopes that as you repeatedly click next, you agree to install their programs too.
Take the time to at least glance over each page of an installer as you go through it, it’s better to read the entire thing, but at least look it over. One thing that people assume is that you must agree to every page that appears, but that is not true. Only agree to the pages that apply to the main program that you are installing, if it applies to something else, click decline. If it is for additional software, you will still be able to click next. Note: even if the decline button is grayed out, you can still try and click it, sometimes that grey it out on purpose, even if you can click it.