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Remove Pup.optional.ask (Removal Instructions) - updated Aug 2019

removal by Linas Kiguolis - - | Type: Browser Plugins

Pup.optional.ask is a potentially unwanted application that is involuntary installed as an optional component

Pup.optional.ask virus

Pup.optional.ask is a term that is used by multiple security vendors to mark all the potentially unwanted programs[1] that were developed by Ask Media Group ([2] Browser hijacker usually enters machines after the installation of free software from third-party sources as an optional component that is cleverly hidden within the main program installer. For that reason, users rarely notice how Pup.optional.ask hijack occurs.

After the installation, Pup.optional.ask sets the new tab URL, the homepage and the search engine of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or another browser to Besides the apparent modification to the start page, Pup.optional.ask also shows numerous sponsored links at the top of the search results, redirects to affiliated sites, tracks users' web browser activities and sometimes even hides its presence to stay on the system as long as possible.

While at first, it may seem like PUP.Optional.ASK.A is just a nuisance, you should not ignore its presence as the unwanted program will greatly influence the sites that you visit and might even lead you to hacked or malicious websites filled with malware.

Name Pup.optional.ask
Type Browser-hijacking tool
Homepage and new tab set to
Developer Ask Media Group or IAC Publishing, LLC in Europe
Related Search App by Ask v2
Aim To hijack web browsers and use them for revenue-gaining purposes
Activities Modifying browsers, producing advertising content, causing redirects to odd pages, tracking non-personal information
Promotion You might accidentally encounter the browser hijacker and its products provided in bundles of software or on unprotected web sources
Manual termination Check for instructing lines at the end of this article
Automatic removal Scan the system with a tool such as Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego and continue with the elimination by using automatical software also

Users have been complaining of Malwarebytes finding several entries belonging to Pup.optional.ask in their Internet Explorer[3] and other browser apps. According to information provided by Malwarebytes Labs, this suspicious component most commonly comes in bundles with Oracle's Java downloads.[4]

Pup.optional.ask, released by Ask Media Group can bring lost of unwanted changes together with the modified search engine. Some of these activities relate to redirecting to third-party websites which might appear to be infected with other PUPs and malware. This can cause indirect damage to the computer system and software.

  Pup.optional.ask distributionWhile some users might stumble upon the app on questionable websites, Pup.optional.ask is usually installed together with Java updates or free software from third-party sources

Additionally, once Pup.optional.ask virus places the new search engine on your web browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, or Safari, the third-party application will supposedly plant cookies in your browser application for browsing-data tracking purposes:

We use performance/analytics cookies to analyze how the Sites are accessed, used, or is performing in order to provide you with a better user experience and to maintain, operate and continually improve the Sites.

Even though the browser hijacker claims that data is tracked only for important improvements, this appears to be false. Mostly, information that is collected by Pup.optional.ask and similar programs is passed on to other parties or used for generating beneficial-looking offers and provoking users to provide a bigger number of clicks on particular ads.

Note that Pup.optional.ask will not bring you anything satisfying even though it might try to trick you by providing fast access to popular networks such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. However, keep in mind that the other part of unwanted activities is usually kept in secret and appears only after the installation of the browser hijacker.

Pup.optional.ask removal is a necessary task to complete if you want to refresh, optimize, and regain proper operating with your web browser. This process can be completed by scanning the computer system with Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego or similar software. Once bogus entries are found, you will be able to properly clean the entire machine and get rid of the PUP entirely.

However, if you are thinking that you will be capable to remove Pup.optional.ask on your own, there is such possibility. We have provided some step-by-step guidelines at the end of this article that should help you to clean infected browser applications and get rid of dubious content from your Windows or Mac operating system.

Pup.optional.ask toolPup.optional.ask is a suspicious tool that can inject a hijacker into browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, etc.

Browser hijacker prevention measures

According to computer experts from,[5] if a browser-hijacking application has been bothering you lately, you supposedly have taken some careless actions that related to the installation of this PUP. Users usually use unsecured downloading sources from which bogus software has big chances of reaching the targeted computer system.

However, this is not the only way how browser hijackers and similar tools enter the targeted computer system. These third-party products can also be promoted on secondary websites that are filled with bogus links an ads. The best ways to avoid secret infiltration of browser-hijacking apps and other PUPs are these ones:

  1. Installation of reputable antimalware software. If you buy a reliable security product for protecting your machine or device, it will throw you alerts when something suspicious is going on and prevent threats from infiltrating the PC.
  2. Keeping a fair distance from unprotected sources. You should be aware of networks such as piracy, gambling, gaming, and porn-watching ones. These pages lack required security, so they should not be visited at all.
  3. Opting for the right downloading/installing option. If you have chosen the Quick/Recommended installation mode, no wonder that you have been receiving PUPs secretly. Deselect this configuration and opt for the Custom/Advanced one.

The elimination steps for Pup.optional.ask on browsers and OS

Pup.optional.ask virus is a term given to this component that changes the default search engine to You might find this type of activity very unpleasant and unexpected. If this tool starts causing you trouble such as redirecting, advertising, providing misleading search results, you should get rid of it automatically or manually.

Pup.optional.ask browser hijackerPup.optional.ask is a browser hijacker that might provide misleading search query results

The easiest and safest way to remove Pup.optional.ask is by using reliable antivirus security software. You can pick a tool from our suggested list or download any program from your own likings. Once installed, the tool will perform a full system scan, detect the infection source, and help you to terminate the potentially unwanted program.

However, if you are likely to, you can perform the Pup.optional.ask removal process by using manual guiding steps. There are some instructions placed at the end of this article. You will find guidelines for Windows, Mac OS X, and web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

You may remove virus damage with a help of Reimage Reimage Cleaner Intego. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes are recommended to detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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Compatible with Microsoft Windows Supported versions Compatible with OS X Supported versions
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If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

To remove Pup.optional.ask, follow these steps:

Remove Pup.optional.ask from Windows systems

If some browser-hijacking signs have appeared on your Windows computer, there might be rogue components lurking on the system. Find these objects and terminate them with the help of the following instructions:

  1. Click Start Control Panel Programs and Features (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs). Click 'Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features' (if you are 'Windows XP' user, click on 'Add/Remove Programs').
  2. If you are Windows 10 / Windows 8 user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once Quick Access Menu shows up, select Control Panel and Uninstall a Program. If you are 'Windows 10 / Windows 8' user, then right-click in the lower left corner of the screen. Once 'Quick Access Menu' shows up, select 'Control Panel' and 'Uninstall a Program'.
  3. Uninstall Pup.optional.ask and related programs
    Here, look for Pup.optional.ask or any other recently installed suspicious programs.
  4. Uninstall them and click OK to save these changes. Right click on each of suspicious entries and select 'Uninstall'
  5. Remove Pup.optional.ask from Windows shortcuts
    Right click on the shortcut of Mozilla Firefox and select Properties. Right click on browsers' icon and select 'Properties'
  6. Go to Shortcut tab and look at the Target field. Delete malicious URL that is related to your virus. Select 'Shortcut' tab and delete '' or other suspicious URL

Repeat steps that are given above with all browsers' shortcuts, including Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Make sure you check all locations of these shortcuts, including Desktop, Start Menu and taskbar.

Erase Pup.optional.ask from Mac OS X system

You can clean your Mac OS X machine from questionable-looking content manually if you are likely to. This process can be easily accomplished by taking a look at the following guiding steps:

  1. If you are using OS X, click Go button at the top left of the screen and select Applications. Cick 'Go' and select 'Applications'
  2. Wait until you see Applications folder and look for Pup.optional.ask or any other suspicious programs on it. Now right click on every of such entries and select Move to Trash. Click on every malicious entry and select 'Move to Trash'

Delete Pup.optional.ask from Internet Explorer (IE)

Erase all bogus extensions, plug-ins, and add-ons from Internet Explorer if you want to get rid of the browser-hijacking activity for good. You can carry out such task with the help of these guidelines:

Remove dangerous add-ons:

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click on the Gear icon (IE menu) on the top-right corner of the browser
  2. Pick Manage Add-ons.
  3. You will see a Manage Add-ons window. Here, look for Pup.optional.ask and other suspicious plugins. Click on these entries and select Disable.Remove add-ons from Internet Explorer

Change your homepage if it was altered:

  1. Open IE and click on the Gear icon.
  2. Select Internet Options.
  3. In the General tab, delete the Home page address and replace it by your preferred one (for example,
  4. Click Apply and then select OK.Reset IE homepage

Delete temporary files:

  1. Press on the Gear icon and select Internet Options.
  2. Under Browsing history, click Delete…
  3. Select relevant fields and press Delete.Clear temporary files from Internet Explorer

Reset Internet Explorer:

  1. Click on Gear icon > Internet options and select Advanced tab.
  2. Select Reset.
  3. In the new window, check Delete personal settings and select Reset again to complete Pup.optional.ask removal.Reset Internet Explorer

Get rid of Pup.optional.ask from Microsoft Edge

Delete unwanted extensions from MS Edge:

  1. Select Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and pick Extensions.
  2. From the list, pick the Pup.optional.ask-related extension and click on the Gear icon.
  3. Click on Uninstall at the bottom.Remove extensions from Edge

Clear cookies and other browser data:

  1. Click on the Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and select Privacy & security.
  2. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  3. Select everything (apart from passwords, although you might want to include Media licenses as well, if applicable) and click on Clear.Clear Edge browsing data

Reset MS Edge if that above steps did not work:

  1. Press on Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Click on More details arrow at the bottom of the window.
  3. Select Details tab.
  4. Now scroll down and locate every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right-click on each of them and select End Task to stop MS Edge from running.Reset MS Edge

If this solution failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method. Note that you need to backup your data before proceeding.

  1. Find the following folder on your computer: C:\\Users\\%username%\\AppData\\Local\\Packages\\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  2. Press Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all folders.
  3. Right-click on them and pick DeleteAdvanced MS Edge reset 1
  4. Now right-click on the Start button and pick Windows PowerShell (Admin).
  5. When the new window opens, copy and paste the following command, and then press Enter:

    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\\AppXManifest.xml” -VerboseAdvanced MS Edge reset 2

Instructions for Chromium-based Edge

Delete extensions from MS Edge (Chromium):

  1. Open Edge and click select Settings > Extensions.
  2. Delete unwanted extensions by clicking Remove.Remove extensions from Chromium Edge

Clear cache and site data:

  1. Click on Menu and go to Settings.
  2. Select Privacy and services.
  3. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  4. Under Time range, pick All time.
  5. Select Clear now.Clear browser data from Chroum Edge

Reset Chromium-based MS Edge:

  1. Click on Menu and select Settings.
  2. On the left side, pick Reset settings.
  3. Select Restore settings to their default values.
  4. Confirm with Reset.Reset Chromium Edge

Eliminate Pup.optional.ask from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

If Mozilla Firefox has been showing you some signs of browser-hijacking activity lately, it is about time to clean and refresh it. This can easily be done by following the below-provided instructions:

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Mozilla Firefox, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Add-ons Extensions. Click on menu icon and select 'Add-ons'
  2. Here, select Pup.optional.ask and other questionable plugins. Click Remove to delete these entries. Select 'Extensions' and look for malicious entries. Click 'Remove' to get rid of each of them
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Click on the menu (top right corner), choose Options General.
  4. Here, delete malicious URL and enter preferable website or click Restore to default.
  5. Click OK to save these changes. When in 'General' tab, delete malicious URL from 'Home Page' section or click on 'Restore to Default' button. Click 'OK' to save changes
  6. Reset Mozilla Firefox
    Click on the Firefox menu on the top left and click on the question mark. Here, choose Troubleshooting Information. Click on menu icon and then on '?'. Select 'Troubleshooting Information'
  7. Now you will see Reset Firefox to its default state message with Reset Firefox button. Click this button for several times and complete Pup.optional.ask removal. Click on 'Reset Firefox' button for a couple of times

Uninstall Pup.optional.ask from Google Chrome

Google Chrome should also be fully cleaned and optimized if some browser-hijacking symptoms occurred while using this web browser app. Carry out the following tasks to get rid of rogue content:

  1. Delete malicious plugins
    Open Google Chrome, click on the menu icon (top right corner) and select Tools Extensions. Click on menu icon. Select 'Tools' and 'Extensions'
  2. Here, select Pup.optional.ask and other malicious plugins and select trash icon to delete these entries. Look for malicious entries and delete each of them by clicking on the Trash bin icon
  3. Change your homepage and default search engine if it was altered by your virus
    Click on menu icon and choose Settings.
  4. Here, look for the Open a specific page or set of pages under On startup option and click on Set pages. After clicking on menu and 'Settings', select 'Set pages'
  5. Now you should see another window. Here, delete malicious search sites and enter the one that you want to use as your homepage. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  6. Click on menu icon again and choose Settings Manage Search engines under the Search section. When in 'Settings', select 'Manage search engines...'
  7. When in Search Engines..., remove malicious search sites. You should leave only Google or your preferred domain name. Click 'X' to remove malicious URLs
  8. Reset Google Chrome
    Click on menu icon on the top right of your Google Chrome and select Settings.
  9. Scroll down to the end of the page and click on Reset browser settings. When in 'Settings', scroll down to 'Reset browser settings' button and click on it
  10. Click Reset to confirm this action and complete Pup.optional.ask removal. Click on 'Reset' button to complete your removal

Remove Pup.optional.ask from Safari

  1. Remove dangerous extensions
    Open Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu at the top left of the screen. Once you do this, select Preferences. Click on 'Safari' and select 'Preferences'
  2. Here, select Extensions and look for Pup.optional.ask or other suspicious entries. Click on the Uninstall button to get rid each of them. Go to 'Extensions' and uninstall malicious add-ons
  3. Change your homepage if it was altered by virus:
    Open your Safari web browser and click on Safari in menu section. Here, select Preferences as it was displayed previously and select General.
  4. Here, look at the Homepage field. If it was altered by Pup.optional.ask, remove unwanted link and enter the one that you want to use for your searches. Remember to include the "http://" before typing in the address of the page. When in 'General', delete malicious URL and enter your desired domain name
  5. Reset Safari
    Open Safari browser and click on Safari in menu section at the top left of the screen. Here, select Reset Safari.... Click on 'Safari' and select 'Reset Safari...'
  6. Now you will see a detailed dialog window filled with reset options. All of those options are usually checked, but you can specify which of them you want to reset. Click the Reset button to complete Pup.optional.ask removal process. Select all options and click on 'Reset' button

Access your website securely from any location

When you work on the domain, site, blog, or different project that requires constant management, content creation, or coding, you may need to connect to the server and content management service more often. It is a hassle when your website is protected from suspicious connections and unauthorized IP addresses.

The best solution for creating a tighter network could be a dedicated/fixed IP address. If you make your IP address static and set to your device, you can connect to the CMS from any location and do not create any additional issues for server or network manager that need to monitor connections and activities. This is how you bypass some of the authentications factors and can remotely use your banking accounts without triggering suspicious with each login. 

VPN software providers like Private Internet Access can help you with such settings and offer the option to control the online reputation and manage projects easily from any part of the world. It is better to clock the access to your website from different IP addresses. So you can keep the project safe and secure when you have the dedicated IP address VPN and protected access to the content management system.

Backup files for the later use, in case of the malware attack

Computer users can suffer various losses due to cyber infections or their own faulty doings. Software issues created by malware or direct data loss due to encryption can lead to problems with your device or permanent damage. When you have proper up-to-date backups, you can easily recover after such an incident and get back to work.

It is crucial to create updates to your backups after any changes on the device, so you can get back to the point you were working on when malware changes anything or issues with the device causes data or performance corruption. Rely on such behavior and make file backup your daily or weekly habit.

When you have the previous version of every important document or project you can avoid frustration and breakdowns. It comes in handy when malware occurs out of nowhere. Use Data Recovery Pro for the system restoring purpose.

About the author
Linas Kiguolis
Linas Kiguolis - Expert in social media

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