What is a potentially unwanted application?

KB Solution ID: SOLN2629|Last Revised: September 30, 2014

A potentially unwanted application is a program that contains adware, installs toolbars or has other unclear objectives. There are some situations where a user may feel that the benefits of a potentially unwanted application outweigh the risks.

For this reason, ESET assigns such applications a lower-risk category compared to other types of malicious software, such as trojan horses or worms. While installing your ESET product, you can decide whether to enable detection of potentially unwanted applications, as shown below (Figure 1-1):

Figure 1-1
Click the image to view larger in new window

These settings can be modified in your program settings at any time. Click your ESET version below for more instructions on switching detection modes:

Warning–Potential threat found

When a potentially unwanted application is detected, you will be able to decide which action to take. See Figure 1-2 for an example:

  • Disconnect: This option ends the action and prevents the potential threat from entering your system.
  • No action: This option allows a potential threat to enter your system.
  • To allow the application to run on your computer in the future without interruption, click Show Advanced Options and select the check box next to Exclude from detection.


Potentially unwanted applications may install adware, toolbars, or contain other unwanted and unsafe program features.

Figure 1-2 

Potentially unwanted applications–software wrappers

A software wrapper is a special type of application modification that is used by some file-hosting websites. It is a third-party tool that installs the program you intended to download but adds additional software, such as toolbars or adware. The additional software may also make changes to your web browser’s home page and search settings. Also, file-hosting websites often do not notify the software vendor or download recipient that modifications have been made and do not easily allow opting out of modification. For these reasons, ESET classifies software wrappers as a type of potentially unwanted application to allow users to accept the download or not.

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