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Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it

Preston Gralla | Aug. 24, 2015
Is your new Windows system laden with unnecessary -- or even harmful -- software? Here's a rundown of what to look for and how (or if) you can uninstall it.

AdwCleaner

Slim Computer should remove all toolbars and similar browser bloatware, but if you want to make sure it's all gone, give the free AdwCleaner a try. Run it, click Scan, and after it finishes its work, click the listings it generates for each of your browsers to see what kinds of toolbars and bloatware it found. It also looks through your Registry, scheduled tasks and services.

Uncheck the boxes next to the items you don't want cleaned, then tell the software to clean out everything else. Before doing that, make sure to close all your programs, because otherwise AdwCleaner will do it for you and you might lose data. It will also restart after it does its cleaning, and create a text file that contains a summary of everything it found, and everything you had it clean.

Other tools

It's also not a bad idea to install at least one anti-adware tool, which will look for all kinds of adware, not just ones preloaded on PCs.

Examples include Ultra Adware Killer, which is efficient -- but be sure that you carefully check what it identifies as adware before telling it to remove it. For example, it considers the AVG Security Toolbar as adware, which you may or may not want to get rid of.

Two freeware applications that handle both malware and spyware are Spybot and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Buy bloatware-free PCs

The best thing, of course, is to buy a clean Windows computer. That's easier said than done -- you can't just walk into a Best Buy or order a PC online and expect it to be bloatware-free.

However, there are places to turn for bloatware-free PCs. For example, Microsoft has its previously mentioned Signature Edition PCs. However, keep in mind that you may end up paying more -- for example, as I write this, a Samsung ATIV Book 9 laptop with 256GB of storage costs $1,199 as a Signature Edition on the Microsoft site, but sells for $1,100 online from Newegg.

Lenovo has pledged that its Windows 10-loaded PCs will be free from bloatware.

You can also buy machines from high-end PC makers that either don't include bloatware on their PCs, or will leave it off at your request -- for details, see Michael Horowitz's excellent rundown. But be prepared to open your wallet wide.

Maingear sells bloatware-free PCs, but again, the machines don't come cheap -- for example, its least expensive desktop was priced (at the time of this writing) at $799 and its specs won't knock your socks off (8GB RAM; 500 GB hard drive; Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258 processor).

 

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