Wadware: What it is and How to Avoid Unwanted Software

Have you ever downloaded a program that seemed useful, only to find your computer cluttered with unwanted software afterward? This is likely due to wadware. In this article, we’ll break down wadware, how it works, and how to protect yourself from it.

What is Wadware?

Wadware is a type of unwanted software bundled together with a program you choose to download. It’s often hidden during the installation process, making it easy to install unintentionally. Wadware can range from annoying toolbars to potentially harmful malware.

Here are some characteristics of wadware:

  • Bundled with free software: Wadware is commonly found bundled with free software, games, or video converters.
  • Deceptive installation process: The installation process might trick you into installing additional software by using pre-checked boxes or unclear language.
  • Resource-draining: Wadware can slow down your computer by consuming system resources.
  • Privacy concerns: Some wadware may track your browsing habits or display targeted advertisements.

How Does Wadware Work?

Wadware works by piggybacking on legitimate software downloads. Here’s a typical scenario:

  1. You download a free program from an unreliable source.
  2. During installation, the program presents you with an option to install “additional software” or “recommended tools.”
  3. The language might be misleading, or the boxes for additional software might be pre-checked by default.
  4. If you don’t carefully review the installation options, you might unknowingly install wadware alongside the desired program.

How to Protect Yourself from Wadware

Here are some steps you can take to avoid installing wadware:

  • Download from reputable sources: Stick to downloading software from official websites or trusted vendors.
  • Read reviews: Before downloading, check online reviews for the program to see if users have reported encountering wadware during installation.
  • Pay attention during installation: Carefully review each installation screen. Uncheck any boxes for additional software you don’t want.
  • Use custom install options: When possible, choose the “custom” installation option instead of “express” or “recommended.” This gives you more control over what gets installed.
  • Use anti-malware software: A good anti-malware program can help detect and remove wadware, along with other threats.

Comparison: Wadware vs. Malware

Wadware and malware are both unwanted software, but there are some key differences between them:

Primary purposeDisplay advertisements or promote other softwareDamage your computer or steal your information
SeverityLess severe, but can be annoyingMore severe, can cause serious harm
Deceptive tacticsUses misleading language during installationOften uses more sophisticated techniques to trick users

FAQs about Wadware

Q: How can I remove wadware from my computer?

A: You can usually remove wadware through the “Add or Remove Programs” section in your computer’s settings. Many anti-malware programs can detect and remove wadware.

Q: Is wadware illegal?

A: While not technically illegal, wadware employs deceptive tactics to trick users into installing unwanted software.

Q: What are some signs that I have wadware?

A: Here are some signs that your computer might be infected with wadware:

  • New toolbars or browser extensions appear that you didn’t install.
  • Your web browser homepage changes without your permission.
  • You see an increase in pop-up ads.
  • Your computer runs slower than usual.


Wadware can be a nuisance and can potentially slow down your computer or compromise your privacy. By following the tips in this article, you can learn how to identify and avoid wadware, keeping your computer safe and free of unwanted software.

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