Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

PUPs - Potentially Unwanted Programs - Basics

What is a PUP?

PUP stands for Potentially Unwanted Program. As the name indicates these programs cause nuisance and prevent users from working normally on PC as well as the Internet. While using PC you may see a notification on the System tray stating that Scan required/Errors found/Virus found most of which are fake notices.

Should PUP necessarily be an Application?

No PUPs often downloaded to the System as a Browser Add-on/toolbars which in turn makes the user to download a windows application (.exe) that appears to be legit. Once Installed user might face several inconveniences as the app might interfere with regular work.

Where will I get these PUPs?

Internet is considered to be the ultimate source of all these PUPs. These crap-wares are downloaded instantly by visiting unsafe websites and a single mouse-click can trigger install of these PUPs. For instance if a user needs to watch a video, the webpage will say he needs to install a plugin to view the Video. Once user clicks the download button he installs the necessary plugin plus a toolbar/add-on of a PUP unknowingly.

Does legit websites sell/induce download of PUPs?

No not all Websites are vulnerable to download/Installation of PUPs. The fact is that Ads/Pop-ups are boosted by the junk Add-on / Toolbar which is already present in the web browser.  Most cases website does not have any connection with the PUPs. For example if a user has IE with no add-ons installed and navigates to he/she will not see any Ads/Pop-ups however if the user has installed/enabled a junk toolbar he might see various Ads displayed on visiting

Does McAfee detects this PUPs?

Yes McAfee is designed to detect and quarantine these PUPs as a threat and will notify user to keep or delete the application. However PUPs add-ons / toolbars in web browsers will not be detected as they are integrated within the Browser itself. Also these detection are directly controlled by McAfee's threat Database which is constantly updated with latest definitions for removing/detecting these PUPs. This brings in the necessity of updating McAfee Software on a regular basis.

How do I check for these PUPs?

You can check for these PUPs in list of installed Programs. If you see a program name that appears to be suspicious and new. Go ahead and uninstall it. For Browser add-ons and toolbars they will be listed within the Web-browsers where you can disable or remove them completely from browsers. After uninstall of these nuisance applications you can surf freely without any Ads/Pop-ups.

What if McAfee couldn't Remove these PUPs?

McAfee will show a red alert notification on the System tray that it has detected a PUP with the location of the application. A user who is familiar with PCs can navigate to the said location and delete or uninstall (by running uninstaller) the application. Others can directly seek help from McAfee's Technical Support. The reason for McAfee unable to remove these PUPs is that the Product is not up to date with the latest definitions. There are rare instances where few PUPs get embedded into the deep of an Operating System masking itself as a legit Operating System file/app. In this case McAfee will not be able to modify system files.

How are these PUPs classified?

McAfee has its own naming convention when it comes to PUPs. It directly depends on the severity of PUPs functionality. Few PUPs are named as PUPFOG, PUPFNK, Generic PUP y,etc. based on the type of nuisance these applications cause. These names does not necessarily be similar to the name of Installed PUP. For instance the ClearThink Browser Adapter.exe is categorized as PUPFNK in McAfee's naming conventions.

How to safeguard from getting infected by these PUPs?

McAfee WebAdvisor (free and can be downloaded from McAfee WebAdvisor ) actively monitors websites with known vulnerabilities and gives out a Warning message when you try to visit a dangerous webpage. Also whenever an installer of PUP is downloaded to your PC's Hard-drive McAfee's Real Time Scanning detects and Quarantines it. You can open McAfee's Quarantined folder to view the detection and decide to delete/restore the Application.

Is there chances of getting infected by PUPs apart from the Internet?

Yes, but the possibility is almost negiligible. One best example is by installing cracked games from CD/DVD/USB Flash drive where the PUPs are loaded in discs as a Suplement to the original Games. Few Software developers sell PUPs as part of their software package. Owing to the scarce use of these Media PUP infection is very much limited to OFF Internet users.

For More Information with Screen shots check out

Version history
Revision #:
1 of 1
Last update:
‎09-27-2014 07:43 PM
Updated by:

Community Help Hub

    New to the forums or need help finding your way around the forums? There's a whole hub of community resources to help you.

  • Find Forum FAQs
  • Learn How to Earn Badges
  • Ask for Help
Go to Community Help

Join the Community

    Thousands of customers use the McAfee Community for peer-to-peer and expert product support. Enjoy these benefits with a free membership:

  • Get helpful solutions from McAfee experts.
  • Stay connected to product conversations that matter to you.
  • Participate in product groups led by McAfee employees.
Join the Community
Join the Community