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Avoiding Unintentional Software Installation

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 by | Filed Under: Free Downloads, Security Help
 
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In preparation for PC software reviews, I record each step, and the most relevant (hopefully) is shared with WorldStart readers. The planned review of Advanced Win Utilities Free followed that same procedure but, as is often the case, when a program is installed, other–perhaps undesirable–programs are unknowingly added along the way. That happened with this installation so, what was originally intended to be a software review, instead became an article about additional (and unwanted) software which installed itself.

My documentation usually includes a series of screenshots, along with notes describing material not available in the images. In this case–once the problem was discovered–the screenshots alone provided the information required to address it. If you’d like to learn more about taking and saving screenshots, click here. Screenshots can be saved to your computer (MS Paint can be used for this), or pasted into documents (Word, OpenOffice Writer, etc.).

With my installation of Win Utilities, once the set up was complete, I was alerted to the installation of another program, Conduit Search Protect.

kevin_advanced_win_utilities_free_12

Since the culprit had a name and there was a record, it was just a matter of retracing the recorded steps to see if it was included in the installation of Win Utilities.

It was, and an attempt was also made to install a program called PureLeads. And both attempts were made in a particularly sneaky way. As displayed below, during the Install Conduit Search Protect step, there doesn’t appear to be an opt out option. Also, this looks exactly like a standard installation step, rather than the usual additional software request that is often seen during set up.

kevin_advanced_win_utilities_free_6

In this case, in order to opt out, it was necessary to click the radio button beside Custom installation and uncheck the box which then appeared below.

kevin_advanced_win_utilities_free_13

In the end, I decided that Advanced Win Utilities Free–in spite of several flattering reviews–didn’t present any features that justified keeping it. Also, since only one site I could find offered any reviews, and since none of those reviews mentioned the additional baggage, I suspect the source and validity of those glowing recommendations.

Naturally, many people wouldn’t care to record every step in this process but, when installing software, users should still pay close attention along the way. I always do, and I still missed a significant addition–one that may not have caused any problems–but it was nevertheless an unnecessary and unwanted addition.

~Kevin

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13 Responses to “Avoiding Unintentional Software Installation”

  1. rodzilla says:

    When this type of program is uninstalled, would the add-on programs also be removed, or would they have to be manually removed? I suspect it would not, meaning troubleshooting any possible issues which developed during the install very difficult. Another reason for not including these hidden installations. Deceptive practices like this should be illegal.

    • Kevin says:

      You’re correct, that uninstalling the original program would not uninstall the additional software. So, when I’m asked to try to fix someone’s computer–since this problem has become so prevalent–one of the first things I do now is see which programs have recently been installed and remove anything suspicious.

  2. Bryan Darby says:

    Having found that I had inadvertantly installed Conduit on my PC, I uninstalled it in the usual way. Now, every time I boot up, a message pops up telling me that Conduit is not properly installed.
    I have scoured the PC for the origin of this message but have been unable to find it. How can I get rid of it? It’s driving me up the wall!

    • James says:

      Had same problem, used ADWcleaner after Windows uninstaller. Suggest you be carefull what you delete from ADW dump though.

  3. heneryb says:

    thanks for the post. unfortunately, I encountered the same issue and was not quite so vigilant. I am now stuck with a search engine which calls itself inbox that I cannot seem to find to uninstall. I have looked at every program in the prpgram list in the control panel. I can easily indentify most. there are several which are questionable. but I am afraid I might uninstall I need. aside from the tedious approach of back up, uninstall one by one, I have yet to find a way to rid myself of this annoyance.

  4. Robert Murphy says:

    I have sometimes found it necessary to use “restore” to get rid of additional programs that were installed when I wasn’t being especially attentive during the installation process.

  5. Kevin says:

    I understand the concern about accidentally uninstalling something important, so what I generally do is look for software that was installed when problems arose. The Windows uninstaller should display a column which indicates the installation date. Often, you’ll find several programs installed on the same date. Those are the ones to look at.

    To Bryan’s question about Conduit–and I know this seems counterintuitive–I’ve found that sometimes the only way to thoroughly remove a program is to reinstall it, then remove it completely. For that removal, I use Revo Uninstaller in the Advanced Mode (search WorldStart for the article entitled, Revo Uninstaller for details).

  6. Libby R. says:

    Just as Robert said, System Restore is your best friend!!! Most of the time it can turn back the clock to get rid of that junk, all WITHOUT effecting any documents, pictures, etc. I’ve had to use it many times when people come to me with the “I tried to install this free program I found and now ________ (fill in the blank)”.

    Saved many, many hours of troubleshooting. One snag I have often hit though, sometimes there may be something in those rogue programs that block being able to run the System Restore (it will fail once it goes through the process). If this happens, boot up into Safe Mode and run System restore then.

  7. Becky Hankins says:

    Kim Komando suggested a free program called unchecky and since I have used that one, I haven’t had any problems.

  8. lyn says:

    thanks for info I recently got a notice from “flash” that I needed to install the latest update. It looked like flash’s logo so I clicked install. It seemed to take too long so I stopped the install, but discovered that my homer page had been hy=jacked. I went to the control panel and discovered a number of installation with that date and uninstalled all of them. I learned never, never install from a pop-up and will always go to the source from now on to check for updates.

  9. Barbara Pickett says:

    Thank you for this article…learned from it and the replies…being especially careful now!!

  10. Gary Lee Williams says:

    Before I moved to Win 8.1 I used Spybot – Search & Destroy on my XP. I haven’t installed it yet, but reading about this thing, I think I should. Anybody with thoughts about that?

  11. julie ford says:

    I’ve had to zap Conduit a few times and I found that the easiest way is to go to Control Panel and remove everything installed on that day except what I intended. The most irritating thing is to restore the hijacked start page. My last two Firefox updates included such chicanery and it is very difficult to find where to deal with the problem on their website. I think that I will just get rid of Firefox!

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