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Windows Defender will now delete misleading disk cleanup programs

On Windows, there’s an ever-growing number of utilities designed for cleaning up your directories and thereby maximizing hard drive space. Some even intend on optimizing memory and processing speeds along the way.

While Microsoft doesn’t typically acknowledge these types of cleanup software, it is starting to call out some of the more deceptive tools disguised as cleaner/system-tuner resources. While being advertised as enhancements to your PC’s performance, the reality is that some of these programs are more likely to eat away at your computer speeds. Alternatively, some of these apps even charge money after revealing an extensive list of hindrances on your PC’s efficiency.

Related: Ads pop up on Windows 10 lock screen, and it’s not malware: Microsoft put them there

Now Microsoft is saying that any programs guilty of these crimes will be marked as “unwanted software,” meaning that — assuming you’re on Windows 10 — the company’s built-in Windows Defender will automatically remove them from your downloads. This is according to a post published on the Malware Protection Center blog, on which Microsoft clarifies that the aforementioned subset of these programs leaves its customers with “arbitrary and fear-based” purchasing decisions.

More specifically, it’s widely known that some of these programs detect a Windows system file variant, prefetch (.pf) files, as malware. In reality, though, these files are conceived by the operating system itself to reduce the load times of certain apps. Rather than improving on performance as advertised, these programs can actually be quite detrimental to your computer’s health.

The way this works for Windows Defender is remarkably straightforward. By developing an objective criteria for how malware programs “back up their claims, so that you have the ability to assess what the program found and deems to be errors,” users can determined if they would “like to take the program’s recommended actions.”

Essentially, this means that if the programs meddle with your system files, absent a necessary explanation for doing so, Defender will strike back with an equally terminal blow.