How to remove Punkbuster anti-cheating software

Cheating in competitive online gaming against other humans is a bad thing, I think we can all agree on that. It distorts the gameplay balance, causes strife within the player community and eventually leads to an extremely unfair risk/reward calculation which can put people off playing altogether. So attempting to combat cheating with a technological fix is pretty okay in my book (as long as you don’t attempt to apply it to non-competitive or offline gaming as well).

But you know what else is bad? Nasty little services that take up residence inside your OS, diverting processor and memory resources away from the tasks that you want your computer to be doing, often long after the original software that installed them has been deleted in disgust. Take for instance PunkBuster, or as you may know it from your Task Manager display, PnkBstrA.exe:

PunkBuster process

The villian itself

Getting rid is a pretty easy process, most of the time. Just open your Start menu, and type msconfig into the search box, then hit Enter. A little dialog box called System Configuration will pop up, just select the tab called Services, find PnkBstrA and un-check the box beside it’s name. This will disable the chunk of code on next startup.

If you want to be really sure that sucker won’t get started again, just open Windows Explorer to C:\Windows\System32\ and locate the file PnkBstrA.exe, then delete or rename it.


Many online game servers require a functional copy of Punkbuster running on your system, so if you mess with it you may find that your favourite Call of War Manshoot Ops refuses to connect properly. Check your game manual or online documentation for more details.


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