How to Remove PUPs, Foistware, Drive-bys, Toolbars, and Other Annoying Things

Ending up with random software on your machine that you never wanted in the first place is annoying as all heck.

Unfortunately, it’s happening more and more. I’d say that PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs, although there’s rarely any “potentially” about it), rogue toolbars, and search-engine hijacks are some of the most common issues I see in my inbox.

I’ll talk a little about prevention, but first, let’s walk through the steps I recommend when you suddenly realize you’ve been saddled with software you didn’t know you’d agreed to and certainly never wanted.

Read moreHow to Remove PUPs, Foistware, Drive-bys, Toolbars, and Other Annoying Things

Do I Need this Add-on Recommended by this Software Installation?

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When installing some software programs I purchased on the web, it says while installing to click on, say, Ask Jeeves for a search engine. This is “recommended” and also is the Ask Jeeves toolbar again recommended. To be quite blunt about this, Leo, I did not click those even though they were recommended. In the past, I recall that some of this stuff is quite aggressive and soon after the install, my PC wasn’t running right. Can the seller that I purchased my software from cause the software to not run correctly because I didn’t install the search engine or toolbar that was recommended with the software?

You did the right thing. If the software is truly optional, then saying “no” should have no impact on your ability to use the software you actually want.

Software installations have become more and more aggressive in attempting to get you to install add-ons that are unrelated to the software you’ve actually purchased.

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How do I keep my browser from being hijacked?

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Hi, Leo. I was leading our computer club’s “Internet & More” special interest group last night. One of our attendees wanted to share how to record audio to the hard drive from YouTube content. He used Audacity’s free program in the past and proceeded to show us how to find and download it. We were using Windows 7 and Firefox. We downloaded the program and started to try out some of the sound editing features. We wanted to search for a YouTube example and open up a new tab to Google. Google wasn’t there.  Trovi.com search engine was there and we couldn’t get back to Google.

We tried IE10 on the same computer – no luck. When we downloaded the Audacity free program, there was no option to do a custom install and unselect the extras. The only reason we had any idea what Trovi was that another of our attendees recounted his recent experience of this happening after he installed an Adobe update. He had to take his laptop to the Microsoft store. They finally got it off his computer but it took them a couple of hours.

Many people in our club are older and likely would have to ask for assistance in getting rid of this monster. I prefer to educate them on prevention. They all have real-time anti-virus software and have learned to do malwarebytes scans. We teach our users to do image backups (thank you for hounding me until I did my first one). Other than restoring my computer to an earlier time, how can we protect ourselves?

What you’ve experienced is something that’s happening more and more these days. It’s actually kind of frightening, and it’s frustrating because a large part of it comes from what I would call otherwise reputable companies just trying to make an extra buck or two.

Read moreHow do I keep my browser from being hijacked?