Are machines running slower than you think they should? Is memory disappearing at an alarming rate, baffling the poor IT help desk manager who’s trying to keep a cap on the budget? Are users complaining about stuff on their computers and devices that they don’t know what is or how to get it to go away? If so, it sounds like your systems are the victim of bloatware. Forget the holiday meals and laying on the couch all winter — this is probably the reason your swimsuit doesn’t fit this season. Here’s your handy guide for identifying (and more importantly, eliminating) all that bloatware.
What is Bloatware?
Bloatware can be defined in one of two ways. It can either be software that you don’t want and don’t need that sneakily installed itself or it can be software that’s written by someone with no knowledge of how to write lightweight, lean code. (Unfortunately, the latter is a pandemic among inexperienced programmers.) A good way to view bloatware is like how you think about weeds in the yard. Anything that’s growing that you don’t want there is a weed. Likewise, any software you don’t want or need on your systems can be called bloatware.
How Do You Get Bloatware?
Bloatware is a sneaky creature. It comes on new devices and computers you purchase, or it tacks itself on uninvited when you download or install other software. It can also hop onto your systems when you install device drivers (printer and scanner drivers are notorious for this!). Some bloatware you actually install deliberately, not realizing that it’s poorly coded, takes up far more memory and processing power than it should, and isn’t nearly as useful as other products that do the same thing.
What Can You Do About Bloatware?
The good news is, it is possible to remove the bloatware filling out your help desk’s swim trunks, and you can take steps to make sure you don’t pack on pounds of more bloatware in the future.
First, identify the bloatware that’s already on your systems. Likely, your help desk is already aware of much of this, either because users complained about it or because it’s been identified when you cranked up the software asset management feature of your help desk software. Make a list of the bloatware you need to remove.
The next part isn’t fun. It’s boring and time-consuming, but it can free up tons of memory on your systems and give the added advantage of speeding those systems up. Can you say “happy users”? You (and they) will feel like you got brand new computers and devices without purchasing a thing. You have to go through and remove each piece of bloatware individually and manually. Yes, you can sigh now.
Unfortunately, “Uninstall” doesn’t always work, especially if the bloatware came piggybacking on the computer itself or with another piece of software you did mean to install. Just find the name of each piece of bloatware, and do a quick Web search for “How to uninstall (or remove) [name of bloatware]”. This has to be done for each one you wish to remove.
Since this process is even more unpleasant than hitting the gym in January (gee thanks, fruitcake), it will serve as great incentive to prevent bloatware infestations in the future. Always set up systems and devices yourself, in-house. This way you can prevent installing anything not necessary on the machine. Choose custom installation for all software and de-select any you don’t want or need. Be careful during this process, because they are sneaky! Usually, the boxes are already checked to install, so you have to manually un-check each one during setup.
Finally, research new software you plan to download or purchase. See if any other users have complained about bloatware or if they mentioned that the software is way too resource-consuming for what it offers. Choose lightweight software packages that don’t hog memory and gobble CPU power.
Your new bloat-free systems will have enough freed memory to swim around in, and all the systems will run faster and more efficiently. Now put on that swimsuit and hit the beach!