How to block OpenCandy crapware on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 [Guide]

In today’s world, many software for Windows come bundled with bloatware. Bloatware, or crapware as I like to call it, are third-party programs that are bundled with software during installation — third-party programs that you don’t need to install but developers try to get you to install them because developers earn money every time someone installed bundled bloatware. Essentially, bundled bloatware are advertisements inside the installer of programs.

OpenCandy is a company that can be considered the Google of bundled bloatware; they run a network that allows developers to easily include third-party bundled bloatware in their software, as a way to earn money. Personally, I have no issue with OpenCandy because OpenCandy (typically) behaves better than other bloatware networks: OpenCandy is strictly opt-in, meaning you have to explicitly accept to install bundled bloatware as opposed to other networks which are opt-out (meaning you have to explicitly decline to install bundled bloatware). And free/freeware developers have to make money somehow, after all. However, someone people have an issue with OpenCandy and it is even considered as adware by Microsoft. (Which I personally feel is a bit harsh — are Bing ads considered to be adware? I don’t think so.)

If you are one of those people that don’t like OpenCandy and want to block it, you have come to the right place because this article shows you how to block OpenCandy and avoid installing bundled bloatware.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

The trick we will use to block OpenCandy is to modify your HOSTS file to block OpenCandy domains. Because software that come with OpenCandy make an outbound connection to OpenCandy before offering you the bundled bloatware, blocking OpenCandy domains blocks the connection to OpenCandy and thus you don’t see OpenCandy offers.

You can use any program or method to edit your HOSTS file but for the purposes of this guide, we will be using HostsMan, a freeware HOSTS editor for Windows.

Please take note this trick works on all versions of Windows and will continue to work until OpenCandy starts using alternative domains, which they may or may not do in the future. If they ever do start using alternative domains, you will need to update your HOSTS file to block those new domains too.

HOW TO BLOCK OPENCANDY ON WINDOWS XP, VISTA, WINDOWS 7, AND WINDOWS 8

To block OpenCandy on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, do the following:

  • Download HostsMan and unzip it (0/46 VirusTotal scan results). The download link I just provided you is of the portable version of HostsMan, so you don’t need to install it — just unzip it and run the included EXE file.
  • Navigate to where you unzipped the HostsMan file you just downloaded and open HostsMan by double-clicking on ‘hm.exe’. If you are on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, you will need to right-click on hm.exe and right as administrator.
  • Once HostsMan is running, look in the bottom-left corner of HostsMan’s main program window and click on the ‘Editor’ button. You should now see something like this:

2013-08-25_063937

  • Next click the green + button you see in the HostsMan Editor window.
  • Now, in the ‘Hostsnames’ text box that opens, paste in the following (make sure each URL is on a line of its own):

tracking.opencandy.com.s3.amazonaws.com
media.opencandy.com
cdn.opencandy.com
tracking.opencandy.com
api.opencandy.com

2013-08-25_064406

  • Now, make use ‘Add another entry preceeded by ‘www” is checked and click ‘Add’.
  • Finally, hit the ‘Save’ button (floppy disk icon) in the top-left corner:

2013-08-25_064548

  • Done! You should see a message ‘Saved in XXX seconds’ in the bottom-left corner and the red rectangles should now be green:

2013-08-25_064737

  • Click on the ‘X’ button in the top-right corner to close HostsMan Editor and then click the ‘X’ button again in the top-right corner to close HostsMan.

CONCLUSION

After you do this HOSTS trick, all OpenCandy crapware will automatically be blocked whenever you download and install a program that comes with OpenCandy. Do take note, however, if you ever refresh or delete your HOSTS file, you will need to make these changes again. Enjoy!

[Thanks WildCat!]

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18 comments

  1. ned

    why not just open the hosts file in notepad as *.* all files, and then after pasting in the new entries save as all files *.* again?

    INSTALLATION FREE OF OPENCANDY-
    Paste the exe file to C:
    Using your text editor of choice, create a path as follows: C:\[name of your software file without these brackets].exe /NOCANDY. For example, I used the following path: C:\freemakevideoconverter_4.1.4.3.exe /NOCANDY to install the Video Converter without Opencandy. Select and copy the path to the clipboard.
    Go to ->Start ->Run [NOT the command prompt], paste the path and run it.

  2. WildCat

    Update… Just had a reminder pop up to update Foxit Reader. I got into the habit of copying the EULA and pasting it into Notepad. After that I’d hit Ctrl+F and search for “Candy”. Newest update for Foxit Reader has Open Candy in it. I do not remember seeing/finding it in the past. I hope this info helps.

  3. WildCat

    Just thought I’d share a little info here…

    Applications known to use OpenCandy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCandy

    I don’t know how accurate this list is. Especially after reading the article, “OpenCandy brings the bucks to desktop software” : http://ces.cnet.com/8301-34448_1-57563177/opencandy-brings-the-bucks-to-desktop-software/ … this list seems a bit “short”. The article states “OpenCandy has hit more than 1 billion installs of Windows freeware, and month-over-month volume increased by 63 percent in 2012.” This is verified by OpenCandy’s press release: http://www.opencandy.com/press/opencandy-surpasses-1-billion-pc-app-installs-and-makes-record-payments-to-developers-as-major-market-changes-take-effect/

    The article “OpenCandy: A New Kind of Adware/Spyware” http://cranialsoup.blogspot.com/2009/05/opencandy-new-kind-of-adwarespyware.html … though a bit old, has some good info/insight in it. One part of the article stated ” Do you remember what you parents told you about not taking candy from strangers and why? Well, these guys are not really strangers, they are known predators. The founders of OpenCandy are the same guys responsible for the inclusion of the spyware/adware in DivX.” … How many of you remember the fall out on that one?

  4. WildCat

    [@Peter] Guess my commands are a bit rusty. Care to explain that a bit more please? When I tried how you explained, didn’t work (invalid switch or PEBKAC on my part?) I got the error “A is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file” …

    I can understand going to C:\Users\JohnDoe\AppData\Roaming & AppData\Local … then entering ATTRIB +R +S +H OPENCANDY … to set read only, system, and hidden. Think in old DOS days could use “-W” to set no write(?). If you could fill me in a bit more and ‘learn me something’ would be appreciated. Thanks!

  5. WildCat

    @Ashraf Glad to be able to contribute in some small way back to dotTech for all the info and articles it has shared with me.

    As MarkQ said, you can run the OpenCandy powered installer from the command-line with the /NOCANDY switch. ( The following might be “old hat” to any power users here on dotTech, but I thought I would include it “just in case”. For the following examples I will use the precedent of my having a folder on my C drive called DOWNLOADS that I have downloaded/saved Any Video Converters install program “avc-free.exe” in. Also, CLICK is Left Click and there is a space BEFORE the “/” forward slash mark when using switches. )

    To install “Freeware” programs using the /NOCANDY switch using start>run>file path>setup.exe /NOCANDY

    Example 1) Using Start > Run
    A) CLICK Start> CLICK Run> then type in> “C:\DOWNLOADS\AVC-FREE.EXE /NOCANDY”
    (Without the “quotes” ) and press ENTER to start installing.

    B) AutoComplete works with the Run command on the Start menu. So if you have an “idea” of where the file is, you can start typing, autocomplete will kick in, and you can scroll through the box that pops up to find the folder that has the setup.exe in it you want. Once you find it CLICK on it and the address will appear in the field next to OPEN: When the address pops up it will be “highlighted”. CLICK at the end of the address to un-highlight it. Now you will see the file address with a flashing cursor at the end. If you now hit the “\” (BACKSLASH) key on your keyboard, a NEW scroll box will pop up. Using this method you can continue using BACKSLASH, after UNHIGHLIGHTING each time, to get to the folder and the setup.exe you want.

    C) Alternately you can open up MY COMPUTER, click through your file path till you get to the folder that has the setup.exe in it. Now click in the address bar, then RIGHT CLICK and select COPY ADDRESS AS TEXT. Now CLICK Start> CLICK Run> then in the field next to OPEN: PASTE( Right Click & Paste or Ctrl+V ) From here you can either type in> “AVC-FREE.EXE /NOCANDY”(Without the “quotes” ) and hit ENTER to start installing. Or using the Autocomplete method, hit “\” (BACKSLASH) key, a NEW scroll box will pop up, then CLICK on the file path that shows the setup.exe in it you wish to install. In this example, in the scroll box I would CLICK on C:\Downloads\avc-free.exe. This address will now appear in the field next to OPEN: CLICK at the end of the address to un-highlight it, add the /NOCANDY switch( Press the SPACEBAR once, and then type “/NOCANDY”-without the “quotes”), and press ENTER to start installing.

    Example 2) Using cmd/command prompt:
    In all versions of Windows, XP – 8, Command Prompt can be opened using the cmd run command, which you execute from the Run dialog box. CLICK Start> CLICK Run> type CMD then hit ENTER.
    When using command prompt the cursor will start as C:\Users\YOURNAME>
    (Remember, there is a space BEFORE the “/” forward slash mark when using switches.)

    At the cursor type CD /D X:\ …where “X” is the letter of the drive that has the setup.exe on it you want
    At new cursor X:\ type “DIR” to see directory of files.
    (If you don’t remember exact name. You can scroll up and down after typing DIR to see the list it generated.)
    At cursor type CD “NAME OF DIRECTORY” that has the setup.exe in it.
    At new cursor X:\DirectoryName\ type the NAME of setup.exe followed by /NOCANDY
    Press ENTER to install

    So using the precedent I stated above, I would type the following after the cursor WITHOUT the “quotes”.
    At the cursor type in “CD /D C:\” and press ENTER to change to C drive.
    At the cursor I would then type in “CD DOWNLOADS” and press ENTER to change to the Downloads folder.
    To see the exact name of the setup.exe I was wanting to install I would then type “DIR” and press ENTER, to see a list of everything in the Downloads folder.
    To start the installation of the program I would then type “AVC-FREE.EXE /NOCANDY” then press ENTER to start the installation.

    The above would look like this in the Command Prompt Window:

    C:\USERS\YourName>
    C:\USERS\YourName>CD /D C:\
    C:\CD DOWNLOADS
    C:\DOWNLOADS>DIR
    Volume in drive C is Windows ( Whatever version of Windows you are running)
    Volume serial number is XXXX-XXXX
    Directory of C:\Downloads

    Month/Day/Year Ti:me .
    Month/Day/YEar Ti:me ..
    Month/Day/Year Ti:me 35,623,488 avc-free.exe
    Month/Day/Year Ti:me x,xxx,xxx setup1.exe (X’s are file size in bytes )
    Month/Day/Year Ti:me x,xxx,xxx setup2.exe
    Month/Day/Year Ti:me x,xxx,xxx Zip.zip
    4 File(s) x,xxx,xxx bytes
    2 Dir(s) xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx bytes free

    C:\DOWNLOADS>AVC-FREE.EXE /NOCANDY

    … and then press ENTER to start installation.

    You can also Add a domain block in your firewall or router for *.opencandy.com

    This article “might” help with windows firewall: http://www.howtogeek.com/112564/how-to-create-advanced-firewall-rules-in-the-windows-firewall/ (maybe, maybe not?)
    Seems this is easier to do in other firewalls. ( You hear that Microsoft!!!)

    To add to your routers block sites list check out it’s website or directions.
    Example: http://screenshots.portforward.com/routers/Netgear/WNDR3700/Block_Sites.htm
    http://www.manualowl.com/m/Netgear/WNDR3700/Manual/3949?page=49

  6. Peter

    Another possibility to block OpenCandy (on Win7) is to create empty files named OpenCandy in the directories %AppData% and %AppData%\..\Local. Then set attributes readonly, hidden and system. The OpenCandy installer will not be able to create its directories any more.

    C:\>cd %appdata% && attrib opencandy
    A SHR I C:\Users\John Doe\AppData\Roaming\OpenCandy

    C:\Users\John Doe\AppData\Roaming>attrib ..\Local\opencandy
    A SHR I C:\Users\John Doe\AppData\Local\OpenCandy

  7. JohnnyG

    I found the article interesting, so I downloaded Hostsman and followed the instructions. Then I thought “Why would I want to only block OpenCandy when there are dozens of other offenders out there?” This led me to start reading about the hosts file and eventually led me to the MVPS website which VirtualGuy mentions above.

    I’ve now got the MVPS hosts file installed and working and now lots of bad guys can’t get in. My Internet connection hasn’t slowed down at all. One word of caution to those new to this (like I was yesterday): I ended up turning off the Windows DNS caching service. You should read up on this if you decide to use a large pre-formed hosts file like the one MVPS offers.

  8. Virtualguy

    Is it not better to use 0.0.0.0 as the black hole, as opposed to 127.0.0.1, which is an actual address in the computer?

    I’ve seen debate on this subject, but I forget what the reasoning is for using 0.0.0.0.

  9. MarkQ

    Or you can run an OpenCandy-bundled installer from a command prompt with a /nocandy switch to not be bothered with their suggestions at all (+1 to OpenCandy). Of course, it’ll need to be done every time unlike the method described in the article, but is worth the trouble if you don’t want to or can’t edit the HOSTS file, e.g., if it’s locked by a security software.

  10. JonE

    How to block OpenCandy crapware on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8? Don’t install it in the first place? Sorry Ashraf; this is one of the programs I just got done uninstalling, on my wife’s computer, along with, I’m sure, the crapware that was installed because of it. Every time I ask her what a certain program is, what it does, and why she installed it, she say’s, “I don’t know, I didn’t do it!” She does however do a a lot of installing, on her own, without giving it a second thought; she is a woman after all. Where computers are concerned she’s just like one of those people you read about on here all the time. She knows how to, press the power on, click a mouse, and press the keys on a keyboard; that’s about it.

    I just don’t know why I want a program on my computer that’s going to cause me all that much work. But, I’m am glad to learn new things like this all the time that can help me in the future.

    Thanks for the article and the software recommendation; I did download it.

  11. heavy

    I followed the directions but when I click the disk up in the corner to save it, it doesn’t do anything. The only way I can save it is using the “Save as” and I am not sure what to save it as. If anyone can help with this, I would appreciate it.

  12. Alfred E Neuman

    Google Chrome is very insidious, bundled with Flash Player, Ccleaner and many more programs.

    Why da h3ll would I want to install Chrome when I only want to update Flash Player?????????????

  13. Darcy

    I can agree that OpenCandy is about as harmless as bloatware gets, but it’s still bloatware. I usually use PCDecrapifier and then Revo Uninstaller to get rid of crapware, and will probably keep doing that for OpenCandy. As you say, the developer gets something when it’s downloaded and they are providing a good service basically free.

    This trick will come in very handy for other crapware that never leaves you an opt-in option. Google Chrome comes to mind there, and I do consider it crapware when they give you know option on whether you want to install it or not. No matter how good a program may be, the decision to install should be mine not theirs.