Our Approach to Dealing with Bloatware
Our Approach to Dealing with Bloatware

Bloatware Headaches

If there is one singular thing all of us here at VanTech can’t stand it’s slow computers. Slow computers lead to support calls and support calls mean that someone is not able to get their job done. Over time, if computer users are not careful, thier computers can get filled up with various virus scanners, update programs, toolbars, malwares and viruses. Something as simple as installing a simple PDF reader can result in a number of unwanted programs launching every time you start up your computer. Even worse, some bloatware becomes so deeply embedded in the client operating system that it can change the fundamental experience of using the computer. Why has my homepage changed, you might ask yourself. More likely then not, you inadvertently installed a toolbar that hijacked your homepage and changed it without your consent.  Except you did give consent, you just didn’t realize it.

Even worse are those applications that are really just fancy malwares in disguise. Perhaps you installed a torrent program to download the latest episode of your favorite show? Most likely you didn’t realize that it was bundled with software that you don’t want or need. For example, uTorrent, which is a popular torrent downloading application, was once bundled with a program called EpicScale. It was installed silently and there was no opt-out of any kind.  EpicScale is used to mine bitcoins.  If you don’t know what that sentence means, you obviously don’t need EpicScale. In this case, EpicScale did not monitor http connections or collect other data, but it did utilize a tremendous amount of system resources resulting in slow computers. To further complicate matters, EpicScale did not uninstall gracefully and required manual registry edits to completely remove. Most PC users would not know how to do this.

The most annoying forms of bloatware, in our opinion, are those that computer manufacturers pre-install on desktop and laptop computers by default. HP laptops in particular are filled with this type of bloat. We often hear, ‘why is my new computer so slow?” The answer is almost always because bloatware is hogging system resources for no good reason at all. This leads to frustration among our users and computer users at large.  Frustration left unchecked leads to this…

The VanTech Approach to Bloat

The best way to deal with bloat is to never have it in the first place, and the best way to do that is to have a plan. At VanTech Computer Services we have a plan..

  1. Reimage Early – Any new computer purchased by VanTech on behalf of our clients gets reimaged before it is delivered. In other words, the operating system is reinstalled from the manufacturers installation media. This removes any unnecessary software that was pre-installed by the manufacturer. We reinstall only those applications and drivers that are needed to ensure the proper functionality of the computer. A reimage before deployment will free up disk space, lessen the amount of running applications and reduce RAM and CPU usage.
  2. Reimage Often – At VanTech we advise our clients to reimage their computers at least yearly. A yearly reimage can have significant impact on the functionality of your computer by removing bloat, misconfigurations, old user profiles and other disk and resource hogging villains on your machine. As with the initial reimage, the yearly reimage returns computers to its ‘out-of-the-box’ state, at which point all the applications and user files are copied back onto the fresh operating systems. We have seen with our own eyes computers that were slow and almost useless regain all of their functionality and speed with a simple reimage.
  3. Control Access for Installing Applications – This is where things get more difficult. VanTech can advise a client to lock down the ability to install applications requiring an administrator password to add new software, but we cannot force them into this paradigm. Some clients want to be able to install things on the fly without making a service call, but in a perfect world, all installations would be executed by an experienced desktop administrator trained to recognize and avoid bloatware.
  4. Periodic Computer Optimizations – VanTech advises our clients to enroll in our periodic computer optimization service which can have a tremendous positive effect on computer functionality without the downtime and cost associated with reimages or other labor intensive practices. Computer optimization includes deleting temporary files, removing unwanted software, controlling what applications launch on startup and fixing all registry errors.
  5. Vigilance – If you are the type of user that requires the ability to make changes without consulting VanTech, the most important thing to keep in mind is vigalance. Pay attention to what you are doing. Don’t install bundled applcaitons. And when in doubt, call the professionals.

In Conclusion

Bottom line, it’s an ongoing battle. As time goes on software developers are finding more subtle and tricky ways of getting their software on your computer without you knowing it. The best course of action is one of vigalance and education. At VanTech, we aim to inform and educate our clients and anyone that happens to come across our website. If you have questions please reach out to us. We would love to speak with you regarding bloatware or any other technical situation you might find yourself in.  Until then, have a happy and safe workday.

To set up a free consultation to discuss bloatware or any other technical concern, please click here: http://www.vantechnj.com/contact/