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Short bio

PUP.Optional.Ask is Malwarebytes’ detection name for the Ask toolbar.


The Ask toolbar came with an assortment of different adware, generally installed by default. Aside from adware, Ask is known for switching your default search provider to Ask.com, and will spawn pop-up messages to prevent you from reverting the changes.

Type and source of infection

PUP.Optional.Ask was a browser extension that is frequently (and unintentionally) installed during installation of partner software. The original toolbar was most commonly bundled with Oracle’s Java installations. APN toolbars are usually installed by the users themselves, although sometimes initiated by exaggerated promises of functionality, often claiming to be helpful with your hobbies and interests. There were a plethora of toolbars and Ask.com start pages on offer for those interested, but for a price.


PUP.Optional.Ask is no longer found in the wild under that name. You may see this detection as a byproduct of other PUPs.


Malwarebytes can detect and remove PUP.Optional.Ask without further user interaction.

  1. Please download Malwarebytesto your desktop.
  2. Double-click MBSetup.exeand follow the prompts to install the program.
  3. When your Malwarebytes for Windowsinstallation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen.
  4. Click on the Get started button.
  5. Click Scan to start a Threat Scan.
  6. Click Quarantineto remove the found threats.
  7. Reboot the system if prompted to complete the removal process.


Should users wish to keep this program and exclude it from being detected in future scans, they can add the program to the exclusions list. Here’s how to do it.

  • Open Malwarebytes for Windows.
  • Click the Detection History
  • Click the Allow List
  • To add an item to the Allow List, click Add.
  • Select the exclusion type Allow a file or folderand use the Select a folderbutton to select the main folder for the software that you wish to keep.
  • Repeat this for any secondary files or folder(s) that belong to the software.

If you want to allow the program to connect to the Internet, for example to fetch updates, also add an exclusion of the type Allow an application to connect to the internet and use theBrowse button to select the file you wish to grant access.