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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.

If you've got bloatware on your system that can't be easily uninstalled -- or if you suspect there is bloatware on your system that isn't immediately obvious -- there are a number of tools that might be able to remove it for you. The following are the ones I've found to be most useful.

(Note: If you're trying to scan your system for bloatware -- rather than simply trying to eliminate a specific program -- it's a good idea to use more than one of these applications, because any individual one may not find every single piece of bloatware.)

The PC Decrapifier

This free application is designed to find common bloatware installed on systems. It runs as a single executable file, so you can run it from a USB drive if you'd like.

The software first takes several minutes to analyze your system. After that, it categorizes what it finds into three categories: Recommended, Questionable and Everything Else. Recommended lists software that it recommends you uninstall; Questionable lists software you might want to uninstall; Everything Else lists software about which it has little or no information.

pc decrapifier
The PC Decrapifier reports its results using three categories: Recommended, Questionable and Everything Else.

Each lists the name of the file, the type (Application or Startup) and the percentage of PC Decrapifier users who end up uninstalling it. So in essence, The PC Decrapifier relies on the wisdom of its users to determine what is bloatware and what isn't. You then check the box next to each application you want to uninstall and the application does the rest.

Unfortunately, the program doesn't really provide you enough information to decide on your own whether to uninstall a piece of software. For example, when I ran it on my four-year-old Dell PC, it recommended uninstalling startup software it only identified as ehTray.exe and NvCplDaemon. Clicking the small question mark next to each launched a new browser instance, but with no useful information. I had to do a Web search to identify and decide about any pieces of software I didn't immediately recognize.

The upshot? PC Decrapifier is a useful tool, but be prepared to do a bit of research on your own if you want to be safe.

Should I Remove It?

Like PC Decrapifier, the free program Should I Remove It? uses crowdsourcing to determine which software should be removed and which shouldn't. For each program it finds, it shows not only the percentage of other users who removed it, but also the rating they gave to the program itself, which is more helpful than the simpler data that The PC Decrapifier offers.


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