Bloatware: What is it, why is it there, and how to can you get rid of it?

By Marie Stewart

You’ve just purchased a brand new computer.  It should be safe, right?  Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.  Lenovo just got into a lot trouble over its practice of installing a piece of adware onto its brand new laptops.  In fact, the bloatware problem has become so commonplace that Microsoft added Superfish detection-and-removal to its March 10th Malicious Software Removal Tool Release.  In this article, we are going to discuss what bloatware is, why computers come with bloatware, and how you can check for these programs and remove them.

Bloatware is defined as “applications pre-installed on a PC by the vendor.” (PC Magazine, 2015)  Not all of these are applications you want or even need.  They take up precious memory and provide potential conflicts with other applications.  These applications include short-lived antivirus trials, browser toolbars, or game portals.  Some studies show that removing these pre-installed applications can make your system “sleep 23% faster, start-up 40% faster, and resume 51% faster.” (Chacos, 2015)

So, why would these retailers put software on their brand new PCs?  Software vendors pay the PC manufacturers to pre-install lite versions of their products on all PCs they sell.  Because the price of laptops is plummeting, many manufacturers are no longer focused on giving you the best product.  Their focus is on releasing the cheapest laptop possible and making some additional money by loading it up with bloatware.  The manufacturer doesn’t really believe that the antivirus they installed is the best solution or that the game portal as the best games.  Those programs are installed simply because their vendors offered the manufacturers the best prices for pre-loading these programs onto their PCs.

Getting rid of bloatware can be intimidating.  Opening up the list of applications running your computer when you don’t know what you need and don’t need is daunting, at best.  There are a few applications you can download that will help such as PC Decrapifier or Should I Remove It?but, again, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, these programs can cause you more trouble than they are worth.  Another option is to re-install the operating system.  As an intermediate computer user, I would not feel comfortable with this option, either.

Bloatware isn’t always malicious but it does slow down your brand new computer as most of the pre-loaded junk starts when you turn on the machine.  The initiation of these applications upon startup can also cause conflicts with any software that you install and set to run upon start-up.  So, what can you do if you aren’t comfortable enough to take care of the bloatware on your own?  Stewart and Son Computer Services can help you eliminate these issues.  Let us make sure your new system is clean before you start installing your favorite suite of programs so you can get to work faster and avoid potential software conflicts.  Let us take care of this headache for you!

Marie Stewart is the Business Manager of Stewart and Son Computer Services, LLC in University Place, WA and serves as a trusted partner to many local small and medium sized businesses.

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