Should you ever allow a bad program to make changes to your PC?

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Do you think there’s a time when a bad program requests permission to make changes to your computer, and you should allow it?

bad software permission


This question came in from Jerry, in Minnesota –

Hi Scott, I’m a long time subscriber.  We’ve “talked” in the past about your laptops and a couple other things.  Here’s a Computer Tutor topic for the future…I hope.  I have the Slimware cookie or whatever that keeps its window popping up.  The solution appears to be to uninstall it.  However, one of the first steps in the uninstall asks me if I want to allow this thing to make changes to my computer.  That just sounds like a very bad idea.  What do you say to that?   Thanks, and I hope you find this worthy of a Monday post.  Sooner rather than later I hope!

Thank you,

Loretto, Minnesota (near Minneapolis)

Great question, Jerry!

Logically, it makes complete sense to have concerns about this. Why would you let a known bad or malicious program make changes to your computer. Seems like that would be similar to letting a car thief borrow your car, or giving a scammer your credit card number. It just seems unwise, from a security standpoint.

But there is an exception!

When you realize a program is unwanted, the next step of course is to remove it from your computer. In most cases, this means you go to Control Panel, where you can look in the “Programs and Features” category to see a list of the programs installed on your computer. Then you can do a right click on the one you want to remove, and choose the option to “Uninstall”.

But then, you’ll likely get this pop-up alert:

permission alert


And though it may go against your safety concerns and your intuition, the correct answer is “Yes”.

That’s because the change for which it’s requesting permission it to uninstall itself. And of course since that’s the whole goal of this operation, you want it to be able to do that. If you say “No”, then the operation will stop and the program will still be installed and able to run.

So, when you’re trying to uninstall a program and it asks you for permission to make changes, the correct thing is to allow that to happen. Once that “change” has been made, the program should be gone. At least, in theory. Some malicious programs make it seem like they’re going away, but they’re really sticking around. If you have a program that won’t uninstall, contact me. We’ll force it out!

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Norma Rudametkin
February 1st, 2021

So, I am understanding this from your Podcast, but I never did that every time, unless I knew the program I was using. Once I agree, this will uninstall and then I need to go back and make sure it was truly uninstalled?

Your correct, ‘counter intuitive’ to me! That’s because I am a ‘true Senior layman’ when it comes to many technology issues!

Scott Johnson
February 1st, 2021

In most cases you’ll still be in Control Panel in the list of programs, and you’ll see that program still listed there. You could do a restart and go back and see if it’s still there after that.