share article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Q&A with Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert, NordVPN, who discusses bloatware and how to remove it

Q: What is bloatware?

A: New devices can come with pre-installed bloatware that reduces performance and violates privacy.
When you buy a new device, you expect it to come in a pristine state and work perfectly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Devices can come with pre-installed bloatware that reduces performance and violates your privacy. Bloatware is software you don’t want that burdens and slows down your device. These are programs that are preinstalled on new devices, come bundled with other downloads, or are injected into your system through malicious sites.

Q: Does bloatware always comes pre-installed?

A: There are two main ways for bloatware, or Potentially Unwanted Programs – PUPs, to reach you. It usually comes pre-installed by vendors, manufacturers or carriers. There can be a few reasons for this: software developers pay providers to install their products on your device; manufacturers provide the user with maintenance applications (e.g., Lenovo Solutions Centre) that also collect user data; and software or OS updates can push branded solution centers, trialware, or just random add-ons.
I’d like to stress though that not all bloatware is bad. Some pre-installed media suites or control centers can be useful, and some are very easily removable.
Another type of bloatware comes from the web. It can come from malicious websites or be downloaded together with programs you want from third-party webpages. It can also hide in software bundles. This bloatware is more dangerous as it often contains adware or malware.

Q: Why is bloatware a threat?

A: Firstly, bloatware can significantly slow down your computer. If you have many of these programs loading in your device start-up or performing operations in the background, they can eat up your RAM.
Malware or adware presents more severe issues, however. Apart from showing pop-up ads while using your computer – even when you’re not online, it might also spy on you. Other programs might not be malicious but still accidentally leave you vulnerable. One of the more prominent examples is the Superfish program by Lenovo, which made users more susceptible to hacker attacks and spying.

Q: How can bloatware be removed?

A: Bloatware is often the result of computer manufacturers or vendors wanting to cut costs and get additional revenue from software developers. However, the native programs could be removed either by regular uninstall or bloatware removers. You can also get bloatware-free PC, but be ready to pay more.
Windows PCs are most often affected by bloatware. However, this varies depending on the manufacturer. For example, Acer and Asus devices tend to contain less bloatware than Toshiba or Sony. Apple Macs are less affected by bloatware than Windows PCs. However, you still might want to remove some of the unwanted apps that come pre-installed.
You can as well obtain some useful info from ShouldIRemoveIt. It uses crowdsourced data based on the actions of its users to present an extensive list of frequently removed programs. Be aware, that some of the programs are integral to the system and may cause problems after you remove them.

Q: How can bloatware be avoided?

A: Prevention and avoidance are key, especially when it comes to bloatware that isn’t pre-installed. That’s better than working hard to remove it. Hence:
• Choose devices with less bloatware. Other download sources might include malware or adware. Also, avoid downloading software in bundles as these might contain bloatware.
• Download software from the original source. Do some research on the manufacturer and vendor when shopping for a device.
• Fight bloatware when you notice it. It stack up until your OS becomes impossible to use or continue to gather your data. If you notice unwanted programs, remove them right away to keep your device safe and clean.

To continue reading this article you need to become a member

Please REGISTER as a member to get access to our content
Already a member? Login below

Member Benefits

  • Full online back issue archive
  • Access to online only features

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Featured in our issue

No items found

Related Posts

View Latest Magazine

Subscribe today

Member Login

This content is for members only

Please REGISTER as a member to get access to our content
Already a member? Login below

Member Benefits

  • Full online back issue archive
  • Access to online only features

Member
Only
Content