What You Need to Know About Bloatware
For the individual, it is exciting when you open the box that your new computer comes in. For a business, however, it can cause a bunch of problems. Sure, a hardware refresh can be an exciting time for a business, especially if it has been necessary for a while. One problem, however, is that some new hardware comes with unwanted software. Let’s take a look at what we mean.
What is Bloatware?
Bloatware is third-party software that is installed on a computer by manufacturers or distributors. These programs can force a PC to run slower than anticipated; and, in some cases, can actually be harmful for the PC, the user, or the computing network the new PC is attached to.
Companies justify the presence of this “bloatware” as added value. Sometimes, it can be, like tools that aren’t natively found in Windows 10; but, far too often it is just a way for the PC manufacturer (or distributor) to make a little extra money.
What Effect Does Bloatware Have?
Bloatware seems pretty benign, right? It can actually have a big effect on the new PC’s performance. Microsoft sells “Signature PCs”, which are stock Windows 10 machines sold directly by Microsoft. According to Microsoft, 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. This tells you that bloatware hinders PC performance.
What Types of Bloatware Are There?
Bloatware can be different from device to device. Today, even smartphone manufacturers and distributors are putting unnecessary programs on their mobile devices. As far as PC-based bloatware goes there are two different kinds you will see. The first kind are apps that are added to promote the “tablet mode” usability in Windows 10. These will be found as Start Menu tiles and are simple to remove. The other kind are desktop mode-oriented apps that don’t come with a tile and are therefore mixed in with all the apps you would typically find on new PCs.
Apart from the two kinds, there are three separate types of bloatware apps. They include:
- Utilities - Many manufacturers install software that has been developed (sometimes by them) to help keep the performance of the machine working optimally. The problem is that many businesses don’t need this software because they already have a solution picked out to handle these tasks. Media players and photo-video editing software are good examples of this.
- Trialware - Trialware gives users the ability to use the app for free for a certain amount of time, or it gives them limited access to the functions that can be unlocked if the full suite is purchased. Antivirus and antimalware programs are notoriously included as bloatware.
- Adware - Adware is the worst. Its 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
Most people would agree that bloatware is more of a nuisance than anything else. This hasn’t always been the case. A few years back, Lenovo’s PCs came with an app called Superfish installed. Superfish was a piece of adware that not only spied on the user, but also left a gaping hole in the PC’s defenses. 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, many bloatware titles can be eliminated quickly and easily. It may be a bit difficult to identify some bloatware. 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 thinking about undertaking a hardware refresh, contact the IT professionals at White Mountain IT Services at 603-889-0800 to help you through the process.
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