An Introduction to Bloatware
Getting a new computer or smartphone is always exciting for the individual. For the growing business, however, getting new computers can be a giant pain in the neck. That’s not to say that a hardware refresh isn’t an exciting time for a business, it’s just that to get the new hardware to a point where it can be usable takes some doing. Today, we’ll talk a little bit about bloatware, why manufacturers install it, and how to get rid of it quickly.
When We Say Bloatware What Does That Mean?
When you buy a new PC or Smartphone, you’d expect that it would function flawlessly out of the box. Problem is that devices often start out slower than they should be because manufacturers (and to a lesser extent, distributors) install third-party software on the device before it is sold.
Sure, PC vendors can put this additional software on new machines to offer tools that aren’t native to the Windows 10 OS, but normally they do it because they have an agreement with the developer, and make some extra money by including the software on the machine.
What Effect Does Bloatware Have?
You’d actually be pretty surprised to find out that it can have a massive effect. Microsoft sells what they refer to as “Signature PCs”. These are computers that are free of third-party software (bloatware). According to their own marketing, these devices start up 104 percent faster, shut down 35 percent faster, and have 28 more minutes of battery life than laptops that come with alternate software installed.
What Types of Bloatware Are There?
On Windows 10 machines you’ll generally only see a couple kinds of programs. The first kind will be apps that are designed to run in Windows 10 touch-oriented tablet mode. They typically show up as tiles on the start menu and are easy to find and remove from the OS. The other kind are desktop mode-oriented programs that don’t come with a tile and thus are included with all the other apps that are natively installed on the machine.
Most bloatware is made up of three different types of applications:
- Utilities - Manufacturers like to include their own software on PCs they sell. HP, Lenovo, and many other manufacturers install software that has been developed to help keep the performance of the machine working optimally. Problem is that many businesses don’t need this software because they already have IT-approved apps that handle these tasks. It’s also common practice for companies to install complete versions of third-party software. Media players and photo and video editors are popular third-party apps.
- Trialware - This is the type of software that either gives you the ability to use it for free for a certain amount of time, or it gives you limited access to the functions which you can unlock if you pay the (often reduced) price. Antivirus and antimalware programs are notoriously included as bloatware.
- Adware - The nastiest of the bloatware. Adware’s only job is to launch ads, either from websites or via popups. Adware can also spy on your use of your PC, and has been known to cause major vulnerabilities.
Bloatware Is a Security Threat
A couple of years ago, Lenovo’s PCs came with an app called Superfish. Superfish was an adware that opened a major hole in the security of people’s systems. Not only was Superfish delivering annoying ads to PC users, it made those systems susceptible to a hacking attack called a “man-in-the-middle'' attack. Hackers could spy on actions between the computer on--what should have been--secure websites.
Getting Rid of Bloatware
Fortunately, most bloatware titles can be removed simply. Sometimes identifying them can be the biggest problem. A good practice is to check every new system for software before you go ahead and start downloading new apps. Uninstall apps you won’t want, or even those you know you probably won’t use.
If your business is going through a periodic hardware refresh, this bloatware can be a real problem. If you would like help identifying or dealing with annoying software problems, or if you simply need help with your IT, call the experts at First Column IT today at 703-880-6683.