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

Removing a Redirect Virus

My neighbor called me the other day and asked if I could look at his computer. (Something you might well experience yourself 🙂 ).

He’d lost connectivity to his ISP, but more interestingly, his backup machine – a laptop – was acting … odd.

The ISP problem turned out to be the ISP’s problem, and resolved itself the next day.

The laptop, however, turned out to be a different story. When I was done with it, my neighbor asked, “Well, is that an Ask Leo! story?”

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Read moreRemoving a Redirect Virus

Is It Safe to Download from Download Sites?

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Hi, Leo. I seem to remember reading some time ago that it was not safe to download anything from CNet plus I suffered a malware infection, which might have been caused by a download from that site. I’ve been reading your article about Macrium Reflect and considered downloading the free version from the CNet website. What’s your opinion on CNet? Do you think it’s safe to download from this site? I’m presently using Windows XP.

I actually now recommend that you avoid all download sites if at all possible. There are simply too many stories exactly like yours: downloads that come with much more than is expected.

Read moreIs It Safe to Download from Download Sites?

Why Can’t I Delete these Temp Files?

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I found four files and twelve folders in my Temp folder that I can’t delete because they say “Access denied” with no programs open. Most are random numbered IDs, but two of the files have weird names: My Babylon TB and Bundle Suite IM setup. Each of these are around 1 Kilobyte. Both are noted as .exe applications. Two other files are basically just temp files. I’ve tried everything, but they persist. It may not be a big threat, but I hate to clutter the Temp folder on a permanent basis. How can I remove them? I use Windows XP.

Deleting files from your Temp folder is a good thing to do periodically. An “Access denied” error usually means that the file that you’re trying to delete is currently open and in use by some other program.

Sometimes, it happens, but based on the information that you’ve given me, I’m a little concerned that something else might be going on here.

Read moreWhy Can’t I Delete these Temp Files?

What is wssetup.exe?

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What is wssetup.exe? A search on the internet tells me that it could cause problems, but I can’t find where the program is or how to get rid of it?

Wssetup.exe sounds like the setup program for an application with the initials W.S. Have you installed anything with these initials lately?

My guess is that wssetup.exe is benign, but of course we can’t know for sure. While you googled the file name, there’s actually no guarantee that this file is the same as the one whose information you found online. Software companies aren’t required to give program files unique names, and neither are malware developers, for that matter. Anyone can name a file how they like.

So, it sounds like you need to do a little research.

Read moreWhat is wssetup.exe?

Malwarebytes Anti-malware Removes Malware that Others Don’t

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Was it an oversight that you left Malwarebytes out of your list software in What software do you use?

Nope.

That article was about software that I use frequently and have installed on most or all of my Windows-based PCs.

I do recommend Malwarebytes Anti-malware often – almost daily, in fact. But I don’t run it that often myself.

To understand why I might actually recommend something that I don’t use frequently, we need to understand Malwarebyte’s role and how it fits into my view of the war against malware.

Read moreMalwarebytes Anti-malware Removes Malware that Others Don’t