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Bloatware: Why computer makers fill your PC with junk, and how to get rid of it

Brad Chacos | Feb. 27, 2015
Bloatware, crapware, shovelware: No matter what you call it, the junk that PC makers dump onto new PCs is nothing short of a mess. The situation was thrust into the spotlight last week when it was revealed that several Lenovo PCs were preloaded with "Superfish" adware that actively left users vulnerable to attack. The software compromised secure HTTPS web connections in a quest to inject ads on the sites you visit... and make Lenovo a few nickels.

Remember to reactivate Windows Defender or install some security software if you remove trialware antivirus from your PC. You don't want to head into the wilds of the Web unprotected.

If manual labor isn't your thing, a clean installation of Windows can give you the proper like-new experience that Microsoft intended, though novice PC users probably shouldn't muck around with reinstalling their operating system.

But wait! You don't want to rely on Windows 8's Refresh and Reset feature or your PC maker's recovery images (if your PC maker even includes those). Sly system manufacturers have begun sneaking bloatware into their system images, meaning that if you reinstall Windows with the provided tools, you'll also be reinstalling the preloaded crapware — pretty much the opposite of a fresh install, really.

To perform a truly clean install you'll need fresh Windows installation media and the product key for your PC's Windows license. PCWorld's guide to reinstalling Windows like a pro can walk you through the entire process, step-by-step. You may need to download some hardware drivers again when you're done.

Phew! That was a lot of work, but now you should be staring at the pinnacle of computing: A new PC with a cleanly installed operating system. What now? It's time to start filling it with more useful software, of course. We've got your back here, too. Check out our guides to the 22 free programs your new PC needs and 20 obscure, yet powerful free programs that ease your daily tasks for a slew of suggestions.

Just be sure to mind those options while you're installing new software — you don't want to leave a rogue checkbox filled in and stuff your fresh PC with all-new bloatware!


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