Have you bought a new PC or laptop recently? Don’t be too impressed by so-called value-added pre-installed software, as these take up storage space and use up processing power. More than this, a new report shows that free trial versions of browser toolbars, video games, and antivirus programs can make you vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. To mitigate those risks, here are a few things you ought to know about bloatware.
In the middle of 2014, Lenovo users noticed something awry with their web browsers: banner ads were breaking webpage layouts and pop-ups made surfing unpleasant. A deep dive into the problem led to the discovery of a pre-installed software called Superfish — adware that jumps in the middle of your internet connection to stuff web pages with ads. Not only was this bloatware irritating, but it also made connections unsecure, leaving users vulnerable to hackers.
Software behemoth Microsoft has developed and deployed its fair share bloatware as well. The Windows 10 operating system, in particular, has plenty of them, such as:
- 3D Viewer (previously called Mixed Reality Viewer)
- Candy Crush Soda Saga
- Disney Magic Kingdoms
- Groove Music
- Movies & TV
- Paint 3D
- Snip & Sketch
- Sticky Notes
- Voice Recorder
These programs are called bloatware because users don’t necessarily want them, yet they’re already installed on computers and take up storage space. Some of these even run in the background and slow down computers without users knowing it.
While many of these programs are pleasant add-ons for those who find value in them, many users prefer to start with a leaner operating system due to storage space and processing power concerns. If they want a particular software, they prefer to download it themselves. This gives them greater control over their machines and how they experience their hardware and software.
Like Superfish, other Windows 10 bloatware can also cause critical vulnerabilities. The most ironic example of this was a pre-installed version of Keeper Password Manager. Instead of keeping passwords safe, it allowed malicious people behind any website to steal passwords. While Windows 10 users needed to enable Keeper to store their passwords for them to become vulnerable, it makes you wonder why such a flawed password manager app is there in the first place.
How to rid yourself of bloatware
Removing inclusions you did not ask for is a hassle in and of itself, but thankfully, the process is not too tedious:
- Click the Start menu, then the gear icon.
- In the Settings window, select Update & Security.
- On the left-hand side, click Recovery.
- Select Learn how to start fresh with a clean installation of Windows and follow the instructions.
Bloatware not only clutters your laptops and PCs, but it can render your business vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches as well. Save yourself from tons of headaches down the line; learn more about protecting your computers from bloatware. Call our team of IT experts today!