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Windows 10 will automatically block apps it assumes you don't want — how to turn it off

Windows 10
Windows 10 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10 may have let a few potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) slide in the past, but this time around, the operating system is putting its foot down. Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will now block superfluous software that causes more harm than good.

PUAs, also known as PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), typically refer to a bundle of junk apps that are downloaded alongside main programs. They can be spyware, adware or just needless apps that are packaged with free software, and they often hamper your PC's performance.

Unwanted Windows apps will be blocked by default

Windows 10 will begin blocking PUAs by default "starting in early August 2021," Microsoft said, so the new feature should be rolling out to everyone soon.

The Redmond-based tech giant noted that PUAs are not malware programs, but they can be cumbersome and add undue stress to your PC, leading to performance issues. "Potentially unwanted applications are a category of software that can cause your device to run slowly, display unexpected ads, or at worst, install other software which may be more harmful or annoying," Microsoft added.

Microsoft said that it added the PUA blocking feature to the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, but customers who wanted to employ it had to go out of their way to turn it on. Now, Windows 10 will block PUAs by default.

If you don't care for the new auto-blocking PUA feature (perhaps you have an affinity for downloading cryptominers, which often gets falsely flagged by Windows), you can turn it off by navigating to Windows Security > App & browser control > Reputation-based protection

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!