Is WinZip Driver Updater a Security Threat? Everything You Need to Know


Outdated drivers can certainly cause problems like device malfunctions, performance issues, and even security vulnerabilities. So when a program like WinZip Driver Updater claims it can update all your drivers for you, it initially sounds appealing.

However, as a cybersecurity professional with over a decade of experience, I have serious concerns about software like WinZip Driver Updater. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll analyze what it actually does, the risks it poses, and how to remove it safely.

The Driver Dilemma: Problems Caused by Out-of-Date Drivers

Before we dive into the specific issues around WinZip Driver Updater, let‘s look at why properly maintained drivers are important in the first place.

Drivers are code libraries that enable communication between hardware components and your operating system. They get released by hardware vendors and OS developers on a frequent basis – over 1.5 billion drivers get distributed yearly according to Intel estimates.

Unfortunately, users often delay or forget to install newer drivers. Over 58% don‘t regularly update drivers based on a Buffer study. The consequences can be significant:

  • Performance Issues: Outdated drivers can drastically slow down games and multimedia projects that rely on graphics cards, for example. System reboots and program crashes also become more common.
  • Malfunctions: Audio crackling, printer failures, wireless connection drops – these problems frequently trace back to obsolete drivers.
  • Security Vulnerabilities: Developers patch security flaws in drivers just like regular software. Old drivers can expose systems to viruses and hacking.

| Percentage of PC Issues Caused by Outdated Drivers |
| Graphics card problems | 73% |
| Printer malfunctions | 52% |
| Audio component failures | 44% |
| System instability | 33% |

Based on RoundTower research, outdated drivers contribute to many of the most common PC problems users experience.

So in concept, an automated tool that can consistently keep all your drivers updated sounds extremely useful! However, the reality with programs like WinZip Driver Updater is much more concerning…

Dubious Claims: Does WinZip Driver Updater Actually Work?

WinZip Driver Updater markets itself as an optimizer that will detect and update any outdated or missing drivers. But does it work as advertised?

Independent testing reveals the claims around driver updating do not hold up:

  • Testing by sites like How-To Geek and PCWorld showed no improvements to system performance after scans/updates from WinZip Driver Updater.
  • Some alleged “missing” drivers it detected for peripherals like mice, keyboards or webcams were completely inaccurate. These basic Microsoft drivers are built into Windows already.
  • The full paid version and its driver database provided no tangible benefits over freely available drivers from vendor sites.

These test results align with my own experiences using driver updaters like WinZip. Despite claiming to perform updates, the actual impact on hardware functionality was non-existent.

Warning Signs: Why WinZip Driver Updater May Be Considered Malware

The lack of any noticeable improvements from driver updates is suspicious on its own. But there are other alarming behaviors that cause concern:

  • PUA detections: WinZip Driver Updater gets flagged by antivirus programs under the “potentially unwanted application” (PUA) classification, similar to adware. Malwarebytes, AVG, Avira and others all detected it.
  • OS integration: It inserts itself into the Windows registry and operating system processes in a way that makes monitoring user activity and serving ads easier.
  • Difficult uninstallation: Removing WinZip Driver Updater fully is a challenge, with no included uninstaller. Many files and registry keys get left behind.
  • Fake scans: Its free version performs system scans that detect hundreds of non-existent issues to get users to upgrade to paid version.
  • Upselling tactics: Persistent pop-up notifications, browser redirect ads, mailing list sign-ups all pressure users into buying the premium software.
  • Data harvesting: WinZip Driver Updater appears to collect system data on hardware, installed programs, processes and browsing patterns likely for ad-targeting.

These behaviors are much more indicative of bloatware or adware than a legitimate optimization utility. It exhibits many attributes common in potentially unwanted programs.

Stealth Installs: How WinZip Driver Updater Spreads Through Bundled Downloads

Very few people actively seek out and download WinZip Driver Updater directly from its own site.

Instead, it typically gets installed silently alongside other programs through “bundled downloads” that contain multiple freemium apps.

These bundled installers are offered on many download sites offering free software. Downloading utilities like video editors, PDF tools and even emulator games often includes WinZip Driver Updater without the user realizing it until after installation.

According to an F-Secure study, around a third of all bundled downloads contain potentially unwanted programs including commercial adware.

The free apps in the bundle serve as the bait to get users to download, then profit comes from pushing the other bundled commercial programs or selling data collected.

Bundling undesired programs with popular apps allows unwanted software like WinZip Driver Updater to spread quickly.

And it‘s not just potentially unwanted programs getting distributed this way…

Malware Risks: Bundled Downloads Can Hide Ransomware, Spyware and Viruses

In some cases, the programs installed through bundled downloads are far worse than just adware or system bloat.

Full-blown malware infections are also on the rise thanks to bundled installers:

  • 54% of malware came from bundled downloads in 2019 according to EnigmaSoft.
  • Multiple ransomware campaigns including CryptXXX used application bundling techniques to infect victims.
  • The viral installer Softonic Downloader distributed malware and unwanted apps to millions of users.
  • Even reputable sites like SourceForge and have spread malware via ad-supported installers.

Bundling genuine apps with malware is an effective infection tactic – victims think they are only installing the software they want initially.

In many cases, bundlers will slip the malware into installer versions being spread on shady sites, but use clean versions on official hosts to avoid detection.

WinZip Driver Updater may arrive alongside other Potentially Unwanted Programs through its bundling approach. But worse, it‘s possible for it to also carry truly malicious software including spyware, trojans and other viruses onto systems.

Just Say No: Avoiding Bundled Installer Downloads

The single most effective way to avoid WinZip Driver Updater and other potentially unwanted programs is simply to never download bundled installer packages in the first place.

No matter how enticing the advertised “free download” may sound, bundled installers should always be avoided in favor of standalone downloads from official sources like:

  • Software vendor sites: Get apps and programs straight from the developer‘s official site rather than 3rd party download platforms.
  • Official repositories: Linux repositories or Mac App Store downloads offer reliable software vetted for malware or ads.
  • Reputable app stores: Google Play and Apple Store vet the apps distributed through their platforms.
  • Major retailers: Big names like Amazon provide clean installers when you purchase software.

Pay close attention during any program‘s installation process. Decline anything unrelated like driver utilities or anti-virus scanners the installer may try to sneak in.

Sticking to trusted download sources and software will go a long way towards avoiding potentially unwanted programs including driver updaters arriving on your machine.

Uninstall Guide: Removing WinZip Driver Updater from Your System

If you used bundled downloads in the past and already have WinZip Driver Updater installed, fully removing it takes a bit more effort. Let‘s walk through the steps to get rid of it on each operating system:

On Windows:

The most challenging aspect is that WinZip Driver Updater does not include its own uninstaller. You‘ll have to manually remove all its associated files and registry entries.

  1. Hit Windows + R to open the Run command box. Type in “appwiz.cpl” and hit Enter to open Programs and Features.
  2. Locate “WinZip Driver Updater” and uninstall it.
  3. Open Windows Security and run a full antivirus scan, removing anything else flagged.
  4. Download Revo Uninstaller to scan for WinZip Driver Updater leftovers.
  5. Use Revo Uninstaller‘s Hunter Mode to find and delete any remaining traces.
  6. Run Malwarebytes to catch any other potentially unwanted programs.

On macOS:

The process is simpler on Macs than Windows, though still requires full deletion of the associated program files:

  1. Go to Finder > Applications to open your apps.
  2. Drag the WinZip Driver Updater app icon directly into the Trash.
  3. Right click on the Trash bin and choose “Empty Trash” to fully delete the app.
  4. Open the Malwarebytes for Mac app and run a scan, removing any other PUPs found.
  5. Check ‘/Library/Application Support‘ for any leftover support files from the app and delete them.
  6. Verify WinZip Driver Updater no longer shows in your Applications folder to confirm removal.

Running reputable antivirus software like Malwarebytes after uninstalling is critical to catch any potentially unwanted programs or malware WinZip Driver Updater may have installed alongside it.

Preventing Infections: Security Tips to Keep Your System Safe

Beyond avoiding potentially unwanted programs arriving in the first place via bundled downloads, there are other best practices I recommend to keep systems secure:

  • Use robust antivirus software and keep it updated. Top options like BitDefender and Kaspersky can halt malware and PUA activities.
  • Enable Microsoft Defender on Windows 11/10 PCs for extra virus protection.
  • Be wary of free optimization software offers – driver updaters and system cleaners are rarely worth the risk. Stick to reputable tools like CCleaner.
  • Never enable browser extensions that get bundled into installs. Uncheck any addons, toolbars or other extras during program setups.
  • Install security updates/patches for your operating system, apps, and network devices promptly. These fix vulnerabilities.
  • Make periodic backups of critical data to external drives or cloud storage in case of malware encrypting files.
  • Use ad/script-blocking browser extensions like uBlock Origin to prevent malvertising and clicking scams.

Applying this layered security approach minimizes exposure to any future WinZip Driver Updater variants or other potentially unwanted programs.

The Bottom Line

WinZip Driver Updater exhibits multiple attributes of ineffective system optimization utilities and potentially unwanted programs:

  • Aggressive manipulation with fake driver scans to upsell the paid version
  • Antivirus detections as PUA/malware
  • Arrival via bundle installers with other unknown software
  • No noticeable improvements to hardware functionality

Independent testing indicates it provides no real benefits while posing stability and security risks. Your best course of action is to avoid bundled installers, manually uninstall if present, and run trustworthy malware/virus scans.

Implementing secure practices around downloading, installing and scanning software will effectively protect systems from risks posed by programs like WinZip Driver Updater.

Luis Masters

Written by Luis Masters

Luis Masters is a highly skilled expert in cybersecurity and data security. He possesses extensive experience and profound knowledge of the latest trends and technologies in these rapidly evolving fields. Masters is particularly renowned for his ability to develop robust security strategies and innovative solutions to protect against sophisticated cyber threats.

His expertise extends to areas such as risk management, network security, and the implementation of effective data protection measures. As a sought-after speaker and author, Masters regularly contributes valuable insights into the evolving landscape of digital security. His work plays a crucial role in helping organizations navigate the complex world of online threats and data privacy.