How to remove pre-installed software from your new PC

17th Sep 2012 | 08:00

How to remove pre-installed software from your new PC

Rejecting pre-installed software could save you hours of wasted time

Many business laptops and desktops come with huge amounts of pre-installed software that often slows the systems to a crawl and possibly could include malware and keyboard scanners that could compromise your businesses security. So it is worth taking the time to have a look through these programs and uninstall the ones you don't need and will never use.

The term for free software that comes with a new computer is Bloatware, because it often takes up storage, makes the machine run more slowly, and you never really use it. But whilst the existence of Bloatware might help to lower the cost of the computer from the manufacturer's perspective, it's often nobody's friend.

The software can increase start-up and shutdown times, as well as background disk activity, which creates system lag, and greatly reduces battery life for notebooks, if the system can never reach an idle state. Consequently, it's worth using the removal tools provided in Windows to get rid of bloatware.

Antivirus trial software

The main bloatware culprit is antivirus trial software, which gives you security for a limited period of time before you have to buy the full package. However, trial antivirus software can take up a lot of memory and system resources, because it constantly monitors the computer and external connections to the Internet, or external storage drives. Trial versions continually nag the computer user to buy the full version, which can be irritating.

To remove these applications and files, navigate through your system to the 'programs and features' control panel, and find the 'uninstall a program' tool. Find the name of the program, which maybe Norton or Symantec, and follow the instructions for uninstalling the software.

Search engine toolbars

Yahoo and Google toolbars are also included in many new computers, but can also be considered bloatware, particularly if they are never used. Toolbars can be useful for people who want to be able to search using any dialogue box on their computer. But, considering that Windows comes with its own search, and there are a dozen Internet search engines associated with the browser, these toolbars may well be redundant for you.

By looking for items with 'toolbar' in the name, under the 'programs and features' control panel, these can be uninstalled easily.

Updating and patching your software

There is a huge range of other bloatware programs that can come with the system, for example trials of multimedia players, graphics and video tools from the likes of Apple and Adobe, and PC manufacturer-specific software. But don't be too hasty in getting rid of all of these. The latter can be useful for diagnosing problems with the laptop or PC, automatically finding the latest drivers and keeping the machine patched and up-to-date.

Individual peripherals tend to request their own drivers, and Windows Update, a feature of the Windows operating system, is adequate for requesting and downloading the latest security patches, updates to Office, and drivers for third-party software and peripherals. As a result, manufacturer-specific tools can often take up system resources as they scan and monitor the machine, and like the antivirus free trial, they can also pop up an annoying number of alerts.

Again, if you are unlikely to use these applications, then they constitute bloatware, taking up space and slowing down the machine. Again, it is worth hunting them down and removing them, in order to get better performance from the laptop or desktop computer.

Bloatware removal tools

Free tools are available to remove bloatware, and they are able to remove unnecessary toolbars, unused desktop icons, pre-installed trial versions of antivirus packages, and many other common bloatware applications. These tools tend to be available for free, or for a donation, and the benefits for end-users are immense, leaving them with a faster running and cleaner computer at the end of it.

Bloatware removal tools tend to warn you before they remove anything, and give you the ability to keep or throw out certain applications. Examples of freeware removal tools include Revo Uninstaller, SlimComputer, ZSoft Uninstaller, and well named PC Decrapifier.

Although removing unwanted software works in most instances, there are situations where new computer users might prefer to opt for a clean install, wiping the hard drive and carrying out a fresh install of Windows. This will enable you to reclaim drive space, and computing resources, but it is an extreme measure, so use it with caution.

If you're worried that your new PC may contain malware and other nasties then read our tutorial on How to discover hidden rootkits.

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