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Unpatched Bloatware on new PCs

I recently purchased a netbook, and while I like the highly portable on-the-go computing that it offers very much, booting it up for the first time was frustrating. The box took its sweet time to install a big pile of bloatware, ranging from Acer's own useless tool suite over trial versions of McAfee Internet Security and MS Office 2007 "Home Edition" all the way to the common culprits like Google Desktop & co. Software I didn't want, had never wanted, and knew full well I would have to tediously uninstall again as soon as the device finished booting. And indeed, the first start up not even fully complete, the nag screens began to appear, begging for attention and money.

Undesired pre-installed software would be annoying enough all by itself. But all this software can (will!) also contain vulnerabilities that require patching in future. As stated in my earlier post today, patching of PC applications is an unsolved problem. By forcing unwanted trialware onto customers, the hardware vendors are contributing to making the patching problem worse.

A secure and bloat-free configuration out of the box would be highly appreciated. We already have enough to worry about keeping a PC secure and up to date during its lifespan, without hardware manufacturers stacking the odds against us even further.

What do you do with the undesired software pre-installed on new PCs?  Let us know in the poll on this page.

Daniel

367 Posts
ISC Handler
First, I don't see the poll. Second, what I normally do is immediately uninstall the obvious crapware and disable any services or autoruns from stuff I might need. I wait a month to see if I need it. If I haven't used it by then, I uninstall that too.
Jasey

93 Posts Posts
I just wipe the machine and start with a fresh install. Gives that morning shower feel to the netbook.
Anonymous
Posts
Also, if you buy in any volume at all - many "real" vendors will provide a clean build if you make it a condition of sale. Especially when you make it clear that tech-time to remove such trash costs more than the value of having them as a vendor.
Steven

42 Posts Posts
It is always step number one to remove all "goodies" that are installed on top of the OS.
I have never seen anyone use half the crap that is pre installed on any vendor bought machine.
Anonymous
Posts
I recently bought a Acer Netbook. Yes, I had the same problems. The steps I took were risky but had to be done.
* FIRST: Reboot PC and count how many minutes it takes from login to desktop fully loaded.
* I uninstalled (Add/Remove Programs) anything not needed or had to sign up for.
* I then went into the registry and Taskmanager that had running exez taking up a lot of memory. My Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run.
*FYI* Before I delete I would backup the registry.(Google it) then also lookup what these exez do and what function they served.
* Reboot the PC again and count how many seconds it takes from login to desktop.

I did other things but it would take forever to explain.
Remember to backup FIRST. Seeya
Anonymous
Posts
i work at a store that sells laptops and we take 60% of all the laptops we get in stock and strip them down to a basic OS install. Then we charge 39 dollars for it. I must say, Dell is far and away the best about not putting bloatware on PCs. Usually when stripping those down you only have to uninstall 1-2 items.
Anonymous
Posts
I agree that Dell has the least bloatware- as long as you buy from the small business or higher unit. Consumer division tends to throw more junk on.
tcary_amherst

1 Posts Posts
Isn't it always a safe bet to wipe a new machine? I mean, look at the potential for spyware and malware beyond the bloatware, especially if you buy a refurbished or used machine! One will almost always need a OS disk and drivers eventually, anyway...
hacks4pancakes

48 Posts Posts
Daniel,
I find that Crap Cleaner and Revo Uninstaller are a couple of tools that really work on consumer grade machines. Also, I do a complete disk to disk backup first using an external drive. ERUNT is my registry backup tool of choice. The new version of Secunia's PSI security package (1.5.0.0) and MBSA are also helpful. I use another machine to download and burn MS security ISO's and apply the patches *before* it goes on the network, and also DL and use an external drive or USB stick to move other applications' patches to the new target machine as well. Also use a better firewall and anti-malware package than that provided by MS.
Lastly, I have gotten to the point of *not* buying the consumer level machine with the new funky version of Windoz and all the cram-ware that the OEM can imagine. I have had a great deal of success in my last few acquisitions for my family and clients in buying factory rebuilt COMMERCIAL desktops and laptops. You can generally get them with a decent XP Pro package, without too much crapware. One other advantage is that they often come with the enterprise grade desktop management tools. You may not be able to use all the features of such things without a server running the boss application, but the manageability is there. The factory rebuilds may not be the fastest, and have small memory and hard drives, but that is easily remedied. Unless you are running computationally complex applications and/or high end graphics, the commercial desktop rebuild is usually sufficient in horsepower. If you need more, you should be talking to your professional workstation vendor, or rolling your own. I also run as little M$oft as possible, just the bare minimum. FOSS packages for anything else that I need, web browsers, utilities, suites, servers, you name it you can find it.
Just my $0.02 worth.
/s/ BezantSoft
BezantSoft

14 Posts Posts
I never EVAR leave the bloatware/crapware on the new PC..In fact, I have developed a method to remove it without even booting up first.

I format the drive and install Debian.

Now if I could only figure out how to get my $$ back from Microsoft for the dead license.
James

1 Posts Posts
I've sent back to the supplier several notebooks that came without proper installation media, only "do it yourself" image burning tools (which, more often than not, do not work at all). Someone shoudl write a buyer's guide for laptop describing all the fine prints that consumers MUST look for like: presence of the necessary OS and software installation media in the box, proper warantee and expected tie of availability for the spares. Each and every time I let someone in the company buy a laptop for himself instead of doing it myself, I uend up with a pretty machine laking all the necessary parts and documents.
Anonymous
Posts
Have yet to meet bloatware that fdisk/mkfs can't handle.
Anonymous
Posts
We don't boot OEM-supplied installations; we nuke them from orbit with a clean OS disk and deal with the driver mess afterwords. This route takes far less time than removing 30-40 bloatware apps. (HP like installing each shareware game from their pack as a separate add/remove item to boot.)
amcgregor

11 Posts Posts

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