punkbuster is an anti-cheat program installed by some pc games. includes two processes, pnkbstra.exe and pnkbstrb.exe, that run in the background of your computer. punkbuster monitors your system for evidence of cheating in online games.
what is punkbuster?
punkbuster, developed by even balance, inc., has a long history. It was created in 2000 and was first integrated in the 2001 return to Castle Wolfenstein. It’s currently available for Mac and Linux, as well as Windows, so even Mac or Linux gamers may notice Punkbuster running in the background. punkbuster installs automatically when you install a game that uses it.
This software runs in the background of your PC. If you are playing an online multiplayer game that uses punkbuster and you are connected to a punkbuster-protected server, it scans your computer’s memory for evidence of known “cheating” or “hacking” programs. punkbuster has an auto-update feature that downloads a database of new “definitions” of known cheat programs.
In other words, it works much like an antivirus program, except it scans your computer for rogue programs instead of malware. specifically, punkbuster is looking for utilities like “aimbots” that target you in shooters, “map cheats” that show you the full map in online games, tools that let you see through walls, and anything else that gives you an unfair advantage. breaking the rules of a multiplayer game. he doesn’t care if you cheat in single player games.
punkbuster not only analyzes the processes running on your pc, but it can also check if you have modified the game files. is designed to catch those cheating “punks”. After all, it’s no fun getting trampled in an online game by someone who’s cheating.
when is punkbuster active?
anti-cheat features are only activated while playing a punkbuster-enabled game on a punkbuster-enabled server. games must be specifically designed to support punkbuster, and it is up to the operator of each game server to choose whether or not punkbuster is required. but, as long as you’re connected to a server that requires punkbuster, it will monitor your computer in the background to make sure you’re not cheating.
While you’re connected to the server, the server administrator has a variety of tools you can use to check your system, including taking screenshots of your game and viewing information about your key bindings.
If punkbuster notices something suspicious, punkbuster-enabled servers can ban you. Sometimes you will get a warning, but you could also be permanently banned depending on the cd key of the game you are playing or the hardware details of the pc you are playing it on. these permanent bans could prevent you from playing any punkbuster-enabled game on any punkbuster-enabled server on that computer.
Is punkbuster spying on me?
if punkbuster is installed, it always runs in the background on your pc. that’s why you will see the pnkbstra.exe process in the task manager and the pnkbstra service in the services application.
However, punkbuster isn’t actually doing anything most of the time. it is only activated when you are playing an online game that integrates with punkbuster and you are playing on a punkbuster enabled server. if not, punkbuster will do nothing but download definition updates.
what games use it?
punkbuster is not as common as it used to be. Modern gaming has largely moved on to other anti-cheat tools, such as Steam’s built-in Valve Anti-Cheat (Vac) system. Blizzard games like Overwatch also have an anti-cheat feature built in. however, if you have installed some games on your pc, there is a good chance you have punkbuster running in the background anyway.
The last big game to integrate punkbuster was battlefield hardline, released in 2015, but it’s also integrated into many older battlefield games. Punkbuster is also part of older call of duty games like call of duty 4: modern warfare, as well as games like far cry 3 and assassin’s creed 4: black flag.
However, punkbuster hasn’t been integrated into a new online game since 2015. If you’re playing an online multiplayer game released in the last few years, punkbuster is not required.
can i uninstall punkbuster?
You’re probably not actively playing a multiplayer game that requires punkbuster’s anti-cheat software, so feel free to uninstall it if you want.
to do this, go to control panel > uninstall a program. select “punkbuster services” from the list of installed software and then click the “uninstall/change” button.
If you need punkbuster for some reason, you will see a punkbuster related error message when trying to connect to an online multiplayer server in a game. You can always head over to the official punkbuster download page to download and install it on your system in the future.
You will be able to connect to punkbuster enabled servers once you have installed it.