Security | Vulnerability Scans and Assessment Windows

How to protect your Windows PC from potentially unwanted applications

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Windows Security

Protecting your Windows PC from potentially unwanted applications (PUA) is essential to ensure smooth and secure operation. These applications can disrupt your system, slow down performance, display intrusive ads, and even install harmful software. Fortunately, Windows 10 and Windows 11 provides built-in features that can help safeguard your PC from PUAs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of configuring and utilizing these protection settings to keep your system secure. By implementing these measures, you can ensure the security and smooth operation of your computer, giving you peace of mind while using it for both personal and professional purposes.

Learn more about Windows Security in these related posts: How to restore quarantined files in Microsoft Defender AntivirusHow to find and remove Malware with Microsoft Defender Offlinehow to remove Microsoft Defender update on Windows 10 and Windows Server imagehow to view Microsoft Defender Antivirus update details on Windows 10 image (install.wim), and new Windows 11 encryption features and security enhancements will help protect hybrid work.

Configuring Potentially Unwanted App Blocking in Windows Security

Access Windows Security Settings: To begin, press the Windows key + I key to open “Settings.” From there, navigate to “Privacy & Security” and then click on “Windows Security.”

Protect against potentially unwanted applications: 1_Privacy and Security Settings
Privacy and Security Settings

Open App & Browser Control: Within Windows Security, locate and click on the “App & browser control” option. This section contains various security settings that you can customize.

Protect against potentially unwanted applications: 2_App and Browser Control
App and Browser Control

Access Reputation-based Protection Settings: In the App & browser control section, you’ll find the “Reputation-based protection settings” option. Click on it to configure the potentially unwanted app blocking feature.

Protect against potentially unwanted applications: 3_Reputation Based Protection Settings
Reputation Based Protection Settings

Customize Blocking Options: Within the Reputation-based protection settings, you’ll see a control panel that allows you to enable or disable “Potentially unwanted app blocking“. We recommend keeping this feature turned on for maximum protection. You can also choose to block apps, downloads, or both, depending on your preferences.

Understanding the Blocking Options in Windows Security

Block Apps: This option detects and blocks PUAs that are already downloaded or installed on your system. Even if you use a different browser, Windows Security can still identify and block PUAs after they have been downloaded.

4_Potentially unwanted app blocking
Potentially unwanted app blocking

Block Downloads: This feature specifically targets PUAs during the downloading process. However, it only works with the Microsoft Edge browser.

Detecting and Taking Action against PUAs in Windows Security

When Windows Security detects a potentially unwanted app, it will notify you through a notification prompt. Click on the notification to access the Virus & threat protection area of Windows Security.

6_PUAs notifications
Potentially unwanted app notification

Access Virus & Threat Protection: After clicking on the notification, you’ll be redirected to the Virus & threat protection section of Windows Security. Here, you can take further action against the detected PUA.

5_Virus & Threat Protection
Virus and Threat Control

Select the Desired Action: In the Virus & threat protection area, you’ll see the name of the PUA that has been detected. Click on the PUA’s name to reveal a list of available actions. Depending on the severity of the PUA, you may have various options to choose from, such as Quarantine, Remove, or Allow.

Note: It’s crucial to take action against the PUA promptly. Until you select and execute an action, the PUA will remain blocked on your system but not removed. Subsequent scans may continue to detect the PUA until you take appropriate action.

7_Current Threat

Initiate Actions: Once you’ve selected the desired action, click on “Start actions” to implement the chosen course of action against the PUA. Windows Security will execute the selected action, effectively blocking or removing the PUA from your system.


By following these steps and configuring the potentially unwanted app blocking feature, you can effectively protect your Windows PC from harmful and intrusive applications. Regularly review the notifications and take appropriate actions to ensure the ongoing security and stability of your system. With Windows 10 and 11 robust built-in security features, you can enjoy a safer computing experience free from potentially unwanted applications.

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