Potentially Unwanted Program

What Does Potentially Unwanted Program Mean?

A potentially unwanted program (PUP) is a piece of software that is also downloaded when a user downloads a specific program or application. PUP is similar to malware in that it will cause problems when it is downloaded and installed.

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This term was coined by Internet security company McAfee to avoid labeling downloadable programs as malware. What makes a PUP different from malware is that the user gives consent to download it. 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.

Techopedia Explains Potentially Unwanted Program

Generally, PUPs have undesirable effects on a user’s computer. Once downloaded, a PUP may run various background processes that slow the computer down, or it may display numerous annoying advertisements. The sole purpose of these applications is not discovered until they have been installed and run. Most often, PUPs are downloaded and installed with legitimate applications, and users are unaware of these additional installations because they do not read agreements thoroughly.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.