How to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs (Virus Removal Guide)

Potentially unwanted programs are programs that are bundled with other legitimate programs and users typically do not want on their computers. This guide teaches you how to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs from Windows 7, Windows …

Potentially unwanted programs are programs that are bundled with other legitimate programs and users typically do not want on their computers. This guide teaches you how to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 by following easy step-by-step instructions.

PUP

PUP 2

What is a Potentially Unwanted Program?

A Potentially Unwanted Program is software that contains adware, installs system optimizers, changes your browser settings, or has other unclear objectives.

The term “Potentially Unwanted Program” was given by McAfee to avoid labeling downloadable programs as malware. What makes PUPs different from malware is that the user gives consent to download them. When the user downloads a program from the Internet and neglects to read the download agreement, he or she may fail to understand what other unwanted programs are being downloaded.

Is my computer infected with Potentially Unwanted Programs?

Potentially Unwanted Programs usually get on your computer with freeware software (video recording/streaming, download-managers, or PDF creators) that had bundled into their installation these types of programs. These unwanted programs are also bundled within the custom installers on many download sites, so if you have downloaded software from these websites, chances are that a Potentially Unwanted Program was installed during the software setup process.

In most cases, these Potentially Unwanted Programs are adware, system optimizers, or browser hijackers. These unwanted programs either hijack your browser homepage and search engine or displays unwanted advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing.

Here are a few typical signs that you have Potentially Unwanted Programs on your computer:

  • Advertisements appear in places they shouldn’t be.
  • Your web browser’s homepage has mysteriously changed without your permission.
  • Web pages that you typically visit are not displaying properly.
  • Website links redirect to sites different from what you expected.
  • Browser popups appear which recommend fake updates or other software.
  • Unwanted programs were installed without your knowledge.

You should always pay attention when installing software because often, a software installer includes optional installs, such as these Potentially Unwanted Programs. Be very careful what you agree to install.

Always opt for the custom installation and deselect anything that is not familiar, especially optional software that you never wanted to download and install in the first place. It goes without saying that you should not install software that you don’t trust.

How to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs (Virus Removal Guide)

The below instructions are for Windows users, however, we also have an Android Guide and a Mac Guide which should help clean up your device.

This malware removal guide may appear overwhelming due to the number of steps and numerous programs that are being used. We have only written it this way to provide clear, detailed, and easy-to-understand instructions that anyone can use to remove malware for free.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubt at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.

To remove Potentially Unwanted Programs, pop-ups and other malware from Windows, follow these steps:


STEP 1: Uninstall the malicious programs from Windows

In this first step, we will check if there are any malicious programs installed on your computer. Sometimes Potentially Unwanted Programs can have usable Uninstall entries that can be used to remove them.

Windows 10Windows 8Windows 7
  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    Click the Start button on the taskbar, then select “Settings” (gear icon).
    Windows 10: Click the Start button then click on Settings

  2. Click on “Apps”, then on “Apps and Features”.

    When the “Windows Settings” window opens, click on “Apps“. By default, it should open “Apps and Features” but if it doesn’t, select it from the list on the left.

    Windows 10: Click on Apps

  3. Find the malicious program and uninstall it.

    The “Apps and Features” screen will be displayed with a list of all the programs installed on your computer. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious program, then click to highlight it, then click the “Uninstall” button.

    Look out for any suspicious program that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program.

    Here are some known malicious programs: PDFPoof, BatBitRst, MessengerNow, SearchAd, MyPrintableCoupons, Reading Cursors, ProMediaConverter, PDFOnline-express, See Scenic Elf, Clickware, Easy Speedtest, or WebDiscover.

    The malicious program may have a different name on your computer. If you cannot find any malicious programs on your computer, you can continue with the second step from this guide.

    Windows 10: Uninstall malicious programs from Windows

  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to uninstall the program.

    In the next message box, confirm the uninstall process by clicking on Uninstall, then follow the prompts to uninstall the program.
    Make sure to read all of the prompts carefully, because some malicious programs try to sneak things in hoping that you won’t read closely.
    Windows 10: Complete the uninstall process

  1. Go to “Program and Features”.

    Right-click on the Start button in the taskbar, then select “Programs and Features”. This will take you directly to your list of installed programs.
    Right click on Start and select Programs and Features

  2. Find the malicious program and uninstall it.

    The “Programs and Features” screen will be displayed with a list of all the programs installed on your computer. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious program, then click to highlight it, then click the “Uninstall” button that appears on the top toolbar.

    Look out for any suspicious program that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program.

    Here are some known malicious programs: PDFPoof, BatBitRst, MessengerNow, SearchAd, MyPrintableCoupons, Reading Cursors, ProMediaConverter, PDFOnline-express, See Scenic Elf, Clickware, Easy Speedtest, or WebDiscover.

    The malicious program may have a different name on your computer. If you cannot find any malicious programs on your computer, you can continue with the next step from this guide.

    Select the malicious program then click on Uninstall

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to uninstall the program.

    In the next message box, confirm the uninstall process by clicking on Yes, then follow the prompts to uninstall the program. Make sure to read all of the prompts carefully, because some malicious programs try to sneak things in hoping that you won’t read closely.

  1. Open the “Control Panel”.

    Click on the “Start” button, then click on “Control Panel“.
    Windows 7 go to Control Panel

  2. Click on “Uninstall a Program”.

    When the “Control Panel” appears, click on “Uninstall a Program” from the Programs category.
    Select Uninstall a program from Control Panel

  3. Find the malicious program and uninstall it.

    The “Programs and Features” screen will be displayed with a list of all the programs installed on your computer. Scroll through the list until you find the malicious program, then click to highlight it, then click the “Uninstall” button that appears on the top toolbar.

    Look out for any suspicious program that could be behind all the drama – anything you don’t remember downloading or that doesn’t sound like a genuine program.

    Here are some known malicious programs: PDFPoof, BatBitRst, MessengerNow, SearchAd, MyPrintableCoupons, Reading Cursors, ProMediaConverter, PDFOnline-express, See Scenic Elf, Clickware, Easy Speedtest, or WebDiscover.

    The malicious program may have a different name on your computer. If you cannot find any malicious programs on your computer, you can continue with the next step from this guide.

    Uninstall malicious programs from Windows 7

  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to uninstall the program.

    In the next message box, confirm the uninstall process by clicking on Yes, then follow the prompts to uninstall the program. Make sure to read all of the prompts carefully, because some malicious programs try to sneak things in hoping that you won’t read closely.


STEP 2: Use Malwarebytes Free to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and pop-ups

In this second step, we will install and run a scan with Malwarebytes to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs, Potentially Unwanted Programs, and potentially unwanted programs from your computer.

Malwarebytes Free is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

  1. Download Malwarebytes Free.

    You can download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes)
  2. Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.

    When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the MBSetup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.

    Double-click on MBSetup installer to install Malwarebytes
    You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the Malwarebytes installation.
    Windows asking for permission to run the Malwarebytes installer

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.

    When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes setup wizard which will guide you through the installation process. The Malwarebytes installer will first ask you on what type of computer are you installing this program, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
    Malwarebytes setup: Click on Personal Computer step 1

    On the next screen, click “Install” to install Malwarebytes on your computer.
    Malwarebytes Setup: Click on Install

    When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen. Click the “Get started” button.

  4. Select “Use Malwarebytes Free”.

    After installing Malwarebytes, you’ll be prompted to select between the Free and the Premium version. The Malwarebytes Premium edition includes preventative tools like real-time scanning and ransomware protection, however, we will use the Free version to clean up the computer.
    Click on “Use Malwarebytes Free“.
    Click on Use Malwarebytes Free to continue with the install

  5. Click on “Scan”.

    To scan your computer with Malwarebytes, click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs.
    Click on Scan button to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs

  6. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will scan your computer for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Malwarebytes scanning for Potentially Unwanted Programs

  7. Click on “Quarantine”.

    When the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.
    Review the malicious programs and click on Quarantine to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs

  8. Restart computer.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs and registry keys that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
    Malwarebytes requesting to restart computer to complete the Potentially Unwanted Programs removal process
    When the malware removal process is complete, you can close Malwarebytes and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 3: Scan and clean Potentially Unwanted Programs infections with HitmanPro

In this third step, we will install HitmanPro to scan the computer for malware and Potentially Unwanted Programs.

HitmanPro is a second opinion scanner that takes a unique cloud-based approach to malware scanning. HitmanPro scans the behavior of active files and also files in locations where malware normally resides for suspicious activity. If it finds a suspicious file that’s not already known, HitmanPro sends it to its clouds to be scanned by two of the best antivirus engines today, which are Bitdefender and Kaspersky.

Although HitmanPro is shareware and costs $24.95 for 1 year on 1 PC, there is actually no limit in scanning. The limitation only kicks in when there is a need to remove or quarantine detected malware by HitmanPro on your system and by then, you can activate the one time 30-days trial to enable the cleanup.

  1. Download HitmanPro.

    You can download HitmanPro by clicking the link below.

    HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download HitmanPro)
  2. Install HitmanPro.

    When HitmanPro has finished downloading, double-click on “hitmanpro.exe” (for 32-bit versions of Windows) or “hitmanpro_x64.exe” (for 64-bit versions of Windows) to install this program on your PC. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    Double-click on the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide
    You may be presented with an User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow HitmanPro to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    Windows asking for permissions to run the HitmanPro setup file - Help Guide

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts.

    When HitmanPro starts you will be presented with the start screen as shown below. Click on the “Next” button to perform a system scan.

    Click Next to install HitmanPro

    HitmanPro final installer screen

  4. Wait for the HitmanPro scan to complete.

    HitmanPro will now begin to scan your computer for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs. This process will take a few minutes.
    HitmanPro while scanning for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs

  5. Click on “Next”.

    When HitmanPro has finished the scan, it will display a list of all the malware that the program has found. Click on the “Next” button to remove the Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs.
    HitmanPro scan summary. Click Next to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and pop-up ads

  6. Click on “Activate free license”.

    Click on the “Activate free license” button to begin the free 30 days trial and remove all the Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs from your computer.
    Activate the free HitmanPro license keyEnter your email to complete the HitmanPro activation - Help Guide
    When the process is complete, you can close HitmanPro and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 4: Use AdwCleaner to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser policies

In this fourth step, we will use AdwCleaner to remove malicious browser policies and Potentially Unwanted Programs from your computer.

AdwCleaner is a free popular on-demand scanner that can detect and remove malware that even the most well-known anti-virus and anti-malware applications fail to find. This on-demand scanner includes a lot of tools that can be used to fix side-effects of Potentially Unwanted Programs.

  1. Download AdwCleaner.

    You can download AdwCleaner by clicking the link below.

    ADWCLEANER DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download AdwCleaner)
  2. Double-click on the setup file.

    Double-click on the file named “adwcleaner_x.x.x.exe” to start AdwCleaner. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.
    AdwCleaner Setup File
    You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    AdwCleaner and Windows User Account Control Pop-up

  3. Enable “Reset Chrome policies”.

    When AdwCleaner starts, on the left side of the window, click on “Settings” and then then enable “Reset Chrome policies“.
    Enable Reset Chrome policies

  4. Click on “Scan Now”.

    On the left side of the window, click on “Dashboard” and then click “Scan Now” to perform a system scan.
    AdwCleaner Scan Now button

  5. Wait for the AdwCleaner scan to complete.

    AdwCleaner will now scan your computer for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes.
    AdwCleaner Scanning for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs

  6. Click on “Clean & Repair”.

    When AdwCleaner has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found. Click on the “Clean & Repair” button to remove the Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs from your computer.
    Click Clean to remove Find.defaultsearch.info

  7. Click on “Clean & Restart Now”

    When the malware removal process is complete, AdwCleaner may need to restart your device. Click on the “Clean & Restart Now” button to finish the removal process.
    Click Clean & Restart Now to remove Find.defaultsearch.info virus
    When the process is complete, you can close Adwcleaner and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 5: Double-check for Potentially Unwanted Programs with Emsisoft Emergency Kit

While the previous scans are more than enough, we’re recommending Emsisoft Emergency Kit to users who still have malware-related issues or just want to make sure their computer is 100% clean.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit is a free and powerful on-demand scanner that can be used to remove viruses, trojans, spyware, Potentially Unwanted Programs, worms, and other malicious programs.

  1. Download Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

    You can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit by clicking the link below.

    Emsisoft logoEMSISOFT EMERGENCY KIT DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new web page from where you can download Emsisoft Emergency Kit)
  2. Install Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

    Double-click on the EmsisoftEmergencyKit setup file to start the installation process, then click on the “Install” button.
    Click on the Install button

  3. Start Emsisoft Emergency Kit.

    On your desktop the “EEK” folder (C:\EEK) should now be open. To start Emsisoft, click on the “Start Emsisoft Emergency Kit” file to open this program.
    Click on Start Emsisoft Emergency Kit

    You may be presented with a User Account Control dialog asking you if you want to run this file. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the installation.
    Allow Emsisoft to run on your PC - UAC

  4. Click on “Malware Scan”.

    Emsisoft Emergency Kit will start and it will ask you for permission to update itself. Once the update process is complete, click on the “Scan” tab, and perform a “Malware Scan“.

    Perform a Malware Scan with Emsisoft Emergency Kit
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit will now scan your PC for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes.
    Emsisoft Emergency Kit Scanning for Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs

  5. Click on “Quarantine selected”.

    When the Emsisoft scan has finished, you will be presented with a screen reporting which malicious files were detected on your computer. To remove the Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs, click on the “Quarantine selected“.
    Click on Quarantine Selected to remove the Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs

    When the malware removal process is complete, the Emsisoft Emergency Kit may need to restart your computer. Click on the “Reebot” button to restart your PC. After you restart your computer, you can close Emsisoft Anti-Malware and continue with the rest of the instructions.


STEP 6: Remove malicious browser extensions

In this final step, we will manually check your browser for malicious extensions that may have been installed without your knowledge.

ChromeFirefoxMicrosoft EdgeInternet Explorer

Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Google Chrome

To remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Google Chrome, we will remove the browser extension and then check the settings.

  1. Remove malicious browser extension.

    In the top right corner, click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three vertical dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “More tools“, then click on “Extensions“.

    Go to Extensions and remove malicious extension

    The “Extensions” screen will be displayed with a list of all the extensions installed on Chrome. Scroll through the list until you find an unknown or suspicious extension, and then click on “Remove” to remove it.

    Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and pop-ups from Chrome

  2. Change the search engine to Google.

    In the top right corner, click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three vertical dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “Settings“.
    Open the Settings menu

    On the left side of the window, click on “Search engine“, then click “Manage search engines…“. In the opened list look for unwanted search engines, when located click the three vertical dots near the URL and select “Remove from list“.

    Find BeastMusic Search and remove it as default search engine

    Next, find Google Search, click the three vertical dots and select “Make default“.

  3. Check the homepage and new tab settings.

    In the top right corner, click on Chrome’s main menu button, represented by three vertical dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “Settings“.
    Open the Settings menu

    In the “On startup” section, disable malicious extension, then select “Open the New Tab page” as your preferred setting.
    Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and pop-ups as startup page

If your browser is still being redirected to malicious sites or are you seeing pop-ups after you’ve performed the above steps, we strongly recommend resetting Google Chrome to its default settings. To do this, type “chrome://settings/resetProfileSettings” in your browser URL bar, then click on “Reset settings“.

Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Firefox

To remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Firefox we will reset the browser settings to its default. The reset feature fixes many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information like bookmarks, passwords, web form auto-fill information, browsing history, and open tabs.

  1. Click the menu icon, then click on “Help”.

    Click on Firefox’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal lines. When the drop-down menu appears, select the option labeled “Help“.
    Click on the Firefox Menu button then select Help button

  2. Click “Troubleshooting Information”.

    From the Help menu, click on “Troubleshooting Information“.
    Click on Troubleshooting Information button

  3. Click on “Refresh Firefox”

    Click the “Refresh Firefox” button in the upper-right corner of the “Troubleshooting Information” page.
    Click on the Refresh Firefox button

  4. Confirm.

    To continue, click on the “Refresh Firefox” button in the new confirmation window that opens.
    Click again on Refresh Firefox

  5. Click “Finish”.

    Firefox will close itself and will revert to its default settings. When it’s done, a window will list the information that was imported. Click on “Finish“.

    Your old Firefox profile will be placed on your desktop in a folder named “Old Firefox Data“. If the reset didn’t fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created. If you don’t need this folder any longer, you should delete it as it contains sensitive information.

Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Microsoft Edge

To remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Microsoft Edge we will reset the browser settings to its default. This will reset your startup page, new tab page, search engine, and pinned tabs. It will also disable all extensions and clear temporary data like cookies. Your favorites, history and saved passwords will not be cleared.

  1. Open the “Settings” menu.

    In the top right corner, click on Microsoft Edge’s main menu button, represented by three horizontal dots. When the drop-down menu appears, click on “Settings“.”.
    Open the Settings menu

  2. Click on “Reset Settings”.

    On the left side of the window, click on “Reset Settings”.
    Click Reset Settings option

  3. Click on “Restore settings to their default values”.

    In the main window, click on “Restore settings to their default values”.
    Click on Restore settings to their default values option

  4. Click “Reset”.

    A confirmation dialog should now be displayed, detailing the components that will be restored to their default state should you continue on with the reset process. To complete the restoration process, click on the “Reset” button.
    Click Reset to reset your browser

Remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Internet Explorer

To remove Potentially Unwanted Programs and malicious browser extensions from Internet Explorer we will reset the browser settings to its default. You can reset Internet Explorer settings to return them to the state they were in when Internet Explorer was first installed on your computer.

  1. Go to “Internet Options”.

    Open Internet Explorer, click on the gear icon in the upper right part of your browser, then select “Internet Options“.

  2. Select the “Advanced” tab, then click “Reset”

    In the “Internet Options” dialog box, select the “Advanced” tab, then click on the “Reset” button.

  3. Click on “Reset”.

    In the “Reset Internet Explorer settings” section, select the “Delete personal settings” checkbox, then click on the “Reset” button.

  4. Click on “Close”.

    When Internet Explorer has completed its task, click on the “Close” button in the confirmation dialogue box.
    Close your browser and then you can open Internet Explorer again.


Your computer should now be free of Potentially Unwanted Programs and other malicious programs. If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove Potentially Unwanted Programs, pop-ups, or other malware from your computer, you can ask for help in our Windows Malware Removal Help & Support forum where trained professionals are ready t