Beware of such Unwanted Software that give out false claims, says Microsoft

There are many software programs being offered these days, that identify themselves as Malware removers and PC Optimizers, and promise to effectively identify errors, clean up the disk and make the computer perform generally faster. However, they don’t really always do what they claim and could instead make your Windows PC actually slow. Besides, many a times such software follow a practice of providing a free version of their software that scans your system, show you a number of errors and then ask you to purchase the full version to remove these errors. Microsoft asks users to be aware of such unwanted software and even block them if needed. Such programs often bait users into buying this software, when these are Unwanted Software in reality.

Windows Defender

These unwanted software make false or exaggerated claims and can even inflict damage to the computers. They could be antivirus software throwing up warnings about infection and asking you to buy a license to clean uo the malware or they could be PC Cleaners or Optimizers that show errors on your PC and require you to buy a license to fix the errors.

While there are genuine software which do this – there are others too who may throw up false or exaggerated warnings to scare you. So you have to judge for yourself and take a call.

Two of the most common behaviors show by such unwanted software are:

1] Creating suspicion in PC user’s mind

Software which make false promises inflict hazards on the PC that the user may not even recognize. One of such hazard is when the free version of the program calls out errors and warnings in your PC without providing enough clarity on the actual errors or what exactly is wrong! Eventually they ask the users to purchase the premium version of the application to clean the errors, leaving you rather confused what exact benefits you will get if you buy.  Even if you decide against buying the premium version you are always left thinking that you have unresolved niggling issues on your PC.

2] Removing Prefetch files unnecessarily

Prefetch files help Windows keep a track of the way your computer starts and which programs you commonly open. By default, this information is stored as a number of small files in the Prefetch folder. The next time you turn on your computer, Windows refers to these Prefetch files to help speed up the start process. The prefetch folder is a subfolder of the Windows system folder. The prefetch folder is self-maintaining, and there’s no need to delete it or empty its contents. Windows cleans the Prefetcher at 128 entries down to the 32 most used application’s Prefetch files.

But some software actually show Prefetch files as errors which need to be fixed. Remember, if the contents of the Prefetch folder are deleted, Windows and your programs will take longer to open the next time you turn on your computer. Hence, these unwanted programs actually make your system slower.

Read: Potentially Unwanted Programs and how to avoid installing PUPs.

Windows Defender will block Unwanted Software based on these criteria

Microsoft has laid down some objective evaluation criteria that programs must follow, if they want to be, not classified by Windows Defender as an Unwanted Program.

  1. Unwanted behavior: The software runs unwanted processes or programs on your PC. It does not let you easily uninstall itself. changes computer settings without your permission, does not display adequate disclosures about its behavior, prevents you from controlling its actions, hijacks or prevents you from modifying browser settings, makes misleading, false, exaggerated or inaccurate claims about the state of your PC, or circumvents user consent dialogs from the browser or operating system.
  2. Advertisements: The advertisement should not mislead you into visiting another site or downloading files.
  3. Privacy: The software collects and uses your information without your explicit consent.
  4. Advertising: The software delivers out-of-context advertising that interferes with the quality of your computing experience
  5. Consumer feedback: Microsoft considers input from individual users as a key factor in helping to identify new unwanted behaviors and programs. Microsoft has created a web page, where you can submit unwanted software for analysis.

An update on new unwanted and unnecessary programs happens through a Microsoft-created worldwide network, where you can submit unwanted software for analysis. Participants in the network play a key role in helping identify new suspicious programs quickly. After analysis, Microsoft creates definitions for programs that meet the criteria, and makes them available to all users.

Protect your PC from Unwanted Software with Windows Defender

The best way to protect your PC from such unwanted programs is to identify them. Microsoft has brought several security products for the protection of your PC; Windows Defender is one of them.

Windows Defender has recently made quite a good progress itself. It will now also help you identify unwanted software which make false claims, as Unwanted and block or delete them from your Windows PC.

Now Read: Make Windows Defender protect you against Potentially Unwanted Programs.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, an end-user Windows enthusiast, & a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows for the period 2006-16. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.