In the article below you will have the opportunity to learn more about a program from the category of the so-called PUPs named PUP.Optional.Ask . Sometimes among its irritating classical characteristics we can differentiate the broadcast of various online ads like banners, boxes or pop-ups; the display of often unfamiliar search engines and homepages; and the potential redirecting to various locations on the web. When we start talking about this software group, we should for sure point out that all programs belonging there might only have effects on some exact part of your system – all the browser apps you have installed, from Chrome to Explorer, Opera and Firefox. If you are interested, you can read in details about this specific PUP and its whole software family in general below.

The typical features of pups in general and PUP.Optional.Ask specifically

What we can surely say about this kind of software is that the programs which belong to it are specialists at advertising different things by producing online advertisements; and making your browsers behave in a different way than usual. There is normally a specific aim when a PUP is created – to show ads to the users and in this way give them the inspiration to buy/order the products or services being promoted. Actually, there is nothing new, questionable or incorrect about this type of behavior. It’s only that the producers and programmers have the same intention: to achieve the best possible way of promoting whatever they offer. When we talk about the process of advertising, both sides have success – the ones who are selling something and the ones who ensure the success of the advertising campaigns. Everything is absolutely legal.

Why may PUP.Optional.Ask sometimes be mistaken for a version of malware?

Actually, there isn’t really anything really disturbing or illegitimate about PUP.Optional.Ask in particular or its sibling programs. You maybe won’t believe that a huge number of users around the world may still mistake it for a virus. There is a big chance of this happening because of its quite questionable reputation – the broadcast pop-ups could really make somebody annoyed or confused, and they might report this problem as more or less bothering. This is maybe the only reason why hijackers are considered to be potentially unwanted. Just to be clear, though, browser hijackers and malware (Ransomware, Trojans) have nothing in common. In fact, there is a really big difference between these software types and we can’t make a connection between them in any way. Ransomware and Trojans, for example, may destroy everything in your system such as programs and data, while PUP.Optional.Ask cannot access anything different from your browser apps and their history records.

Possible ways of getting infected with a PUP

When we are discussing the methods of potential distribution of ad-generating products, they might really  be various in number and in nature. PUP.Optional.Ask could be hiding everywhere (from spam and shareware to program bundles). Although, the most famous source looks to be any software bundle. These mixes of free programs such as new apps and recently developed games may seem to be absolutely attractive to you; and you may want to download or try some right at the moment. There is one problem with them, though, and it is that they could involve ad-producing programs (e.g. browser hijackers and Adware), and perhaps you are NOT going to be informed about that. From another point of view, you might intend to install the entire bundle you’ve downloaded. Generally, that’s how the ad nightmare will begin. In order to stay away from all forms of annoyance such as PUP.Optional.Ask , you ought to install any bundle, program, game or app properly.

And when we say “properly”, we mean by using the proper method of installation, which allows you to be free to do everything manually. The only wizard characteristics that could make this kind of installation process secure are: the Custom (or often have seen as Customized); and the Advanced ones. When you select one of them, you will have to make a choice what to incorporate into your system and what not to.

The way to avoid any PUP

The prevention process, if you want to avoid PUPs, begins with the already mentioned types of installing any bundle or software on your machine. What is more, you ought to teach yourself to avoid places where Internet irritations like these could be hiding like torrents, video-streaming web pages or fake online ads. For sure you do want to remove this program. For this reason you should read the instructions in our Removal Guide below.


Name PUP.Optional.Ask
Type PUP
Danger Level Medium (nowhere near threats like Ransomware, but still a security risk)
Symptoms Some changes in the looks and behaviour pattern of your browser apps.
Distribution Method Via spam, torrents, infected websites, but mainly ads and software bundles.
Detection Tool

Keep in mind, SpyHunter’s malware detection tool is free. To remove the infection, you’ll need to purchase the full version. More information about SpyHunter and steps to uninstall.

PUP.Optional.Ask Removal

If you are a Windows user, continue with the guide below.

If you are a Mac user, please use our How to remove Ads on Mac guide.

If you are an Android user, please use our Android Malware Removal guide.


Some of the steps will likely require you to exit the page. Bookmark it for later reference.

Reboot in Safe Mode (use this guide if you don’t know how to do it).



Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time and go to the Processes Tab (the “Details” Tab on Win 8 and 10). Try to determine which processes are dangerous. 


Right click on each of them and select Open File Location. Then scan the files with our free online virus scanner:

Each file will be scanned with up to 64 antivirus programs to ensure maximum accuracy
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    After you open their folder, end the processes that are infected, then delete their folders. 

    Note: If you are sure something is part of the infection – delete it, even if the scanner doesn’t flag it. No anti-virus program can detect all infections. 


    Hold together the Start Key and R. Type appwiz.cpl –> OK.


    You are now in the Control Panel. Look for suspicious entries. Uninstall it/them.

    Type msconfig in the search field and hit enter. A window will pop-up:


    Startup —> Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer or otherwise look suspicious.


    Hold the Start Key and R –  copy + paste the following and click OK:

    notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts

    A new file will open. If you are hacked, there will be a bunch of other IPs connected to you at the bottom. Look at the image below:


    If there are suspicious IPs below “Localhost” – write to us in the comments.

    Open the start menu and search for Network Connections (On Windows 10 you just write it after clicking the Windows button), press enter.

    1. Right-click on the Network Adapter you are using —> Properties —> Internet Protocol Version 4 (ICP/IP), click  Properties.
    2. The DNS line should be set to Obtain DNS server automaticallyIf it is not, set it yourself.
    3. Click on Advanced —> the DNS tab. Remove everything here (if there is something) —> OK.



    • After you complete this step, the threat will be gone from your browsers. Finish the next step as well or it may reappear on a system reboot.

    Right click on the browser’s shortcut —> Properties.

    NOTE: We are showing Google Chrome, but you can do this for Firefox and IE (or Edge).


    Properties —–> Shortcut. In Targetremove everything after .exe.


    PUP.Optional.Ask  Remove PUP.Optional.Ask  from Internet Explorer:

    Open IE, click  PUP.Optional.Ask —–> Manage Add-ons.


    Find the threat —> Disable. Go to PUP.Optional.Ask —–> Internet Options —> change the URL to whatever you use (if hijacked) —> Apply.

    PUP.Optional.Ask Remove PUP.Optional.Ask  from Firefox:

    Open Firefoxclick  PUP.Optional.Ask  ——-> Add-ons —-> Extensions.


    Find the adware/malware —> Remove.
    PUP.Optional.AskRemove PUP.Optional.Ask  from Chrome:

    Close Chrome. Navigate to:

     C:/Users/!!!!USER NAME!!!!/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/User Data. There is a Folder called “Default” inside:


    Rename it to Backup Default. Restart Chrome.


    Type Regedit in the windows search field and press Enter.

    Inside, press CTRL and F together and type the threat’s Name. Right click and delete any entries you find with a similar name. If they don’t show up this way, go manually to these directories and delete/uninstall them:

    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—–Random Directory. It could be any one of them – ask us if you can’t discern which ones are malicious.
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—-Windows—CurrentVersion—Run– Random
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—Internet Explorer—-Main—- Random

    If the guide doesn’t help, download the anti-virus program we recommended or try our free online virus scanner. Also, you can always ask us in the comments for help!


    About the author


    Maria K.

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