Have you ever bought a new device and excitedly turned it on, only to see it’s already filled with preinstalled apps?
Apps that you’ll likely never use and can’t seem to delete?
That, dear Ghosties, is bloatware. Let me tell you all about it.
Bloatware – the modern-day hoarder
We buy new gadgets all the time—a laptop here, a phone there, a Smart TV, and so on.
And the expectation is that they’ll be clean slates, ready for our customizations and apps.
But surprise-surprise! Preinstalled apps already take a good chunk of that precious storage space.
The definition of bloatware started as software whose usefulness is reduced because of the excessive disk space and memory it requires.
But as manufacturers started bundling in their proprietary software in their devices, the term’s meaning evolved.
How bloatware became a thing
There was a time when new gadgets came with close to nothing installed. You needed to spend time to:
- Install all the apps you use
- Install all plug-ins you need
- Install essential services, like email and browsers
- Log in to all your accounts
- Manually import all phone numbers, photos, etc.
- Change settings to your preferred ones
It was quite a hassle.
So, to make things more user-friendly and efficient, manufacturers decided to preinstall some apps.
Common examples include Google services (like Chrome, Gmail, Maps, and YouTube), cloud services, social media apps, and sometimes even streaming services.
This made it easier to transfer accounts and files between devices.
But companies quickly realized they could push their proprietary software too.
Manufacturer bloatware – the new normal
PC manufacturers started preinstalling trial versions of commercial software on new computers, hoping that people will upgrade to paid editions.
Toshiba laptops come with preinstalled Toshiba utilities, but they’re not the only ones. Sony has been criticized for loading its VAIO laptops with ineffective and unrequested software. Supposedly, it allows the new owner to fire up multimedia files immediately.
But the problem goes beyond PCs.
In 2019, Samsung came under fire for shipping the Galaxy S10 phone series with the McAfee antivirus on, as part of their recent partnership. You could find it preinstalled even on Samsung Smart TVs, and people were not happy about this.
Apple has also been criticized for making its proprietary software uninstallable and burying competitor apps in a tactic similar to bloatware.
Software plagued with security concerns
Manufacturers go to great lengths to make bloatware hard to uninstall. Or to trick you into not wanting to get rid of them.
For example, a common tactic is to name preinstalled apps as if they’re essential.
Case in point, new Dell laptops that come with these preinstalled:
- Dell Driver Download Manager
- Dell System Detect
- Roxio Update Manager
- Modem Diagnostic Tool
- Dell Support Center
The first three seem like they’d belong in system settings, and the last three seem important in case you ever need to contact support.
So, you might just leave them on your computer.
The truth is you can run your PC without any of them. Or you can replace them with third-party solutions if you so choose.
But there are three main issues with bloatware:
- Security concerns. If you don’t use these apps regularly, you’re unlikely to update them. This leaves you with potential vulnerabilities.
- Performance concerns. Bloatware unnecessarily takes up space. In the long run, it can make your device sluggish.
How to remove bloatware
Now, this fun part is also tricky.
Manufacturers don’t benefit from uninstalls. So, they make bloatware hard to remove. They either downright disable the uninstall button or bundle the bloatware with essential system software.
But if you’re good to go, here’s what you need to do.
How to remove bloatware on Windows
You can remove some of the Windows bloatware through a normal uninstall process.
This works for several apps included in the Windows 10 installation package, like Money, News, Sports, and a few others.
For the programs that can’t be uninstalled, use PowerShell.
- Type PowerShell into your Start menu search bar.
- Select Windows PowerShell.
- Right-click and select Run as Administrator.
- Type in ‘Get-AppxPackage -name “bloatware*” | Remove-AppxPackage.’
* Instead of bloatware, enter the file name itself, like Microsoft.WindowsMaps or Microsoft.BingWeather.
How to remove bloatware on macOS
Apple makes it harder to uninstall their software, so it’s tricky to do this manually.
What you need is a cleaner, like CleanMyMac X, to help you uninstall bloatware.
How to remove bloatware on Android
First, try the normal uninstall process:
- Go to the ‘Applications’ tab.
- Tap ‘Settings’.
- Tap ‘Apps and Notifications.’
- Select the app you want and tap on ‘Uninstall.’
If you can’t uninstall the app, you can at least disable it. It’s a decent compromise to minimize the impact of bloatware.
Of course, some apps just can’t be deleted. If you’re really keen on removing them, take your phone to a professional.
How to remove bloatware on iOS
Usually, iPhones have less bloatware than Android phones, but they’re harder to customize. This includes preinstalled apps.
You can still try the conventional uninstall:
- Go to ‘Settings.’
- Go to ‘General.’
- Tap on ‘iPhone Storage.’
- Choose ‘Delete App.’
If you can’t uninstall the app, you’ll instead have the ‘Offload App’ option. This won’t remove the app, but it will make a little bit of space on your device.
Have you ever dealt with bloatware? How did you get rid of it? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, stay safe and secure!