Bloatware computerOne of the most common complaints about computer performance is sluggishness in running.  After a few years or sometimes even a few months, the machine that was speedy and slick when new is now taking far too long to load.  Various factors contribute to this, but users may be unaware that even brand new computers contain something that slows them down.  It’s called bloatware.

Bloatware is essentially extra stuff—extra programs, applications, and add-ons that fill your computer and use an excessive amount of system resources, such as disk space and memory.  Often they run in the background without you realizing it.  At first, this isn’t problematic, but over time, as you save more and more information to your hard drive and utilize the system for games, videos, or photos, this bloatware  is taking away resources that would be better spent on the computing you want to do.  Once installed, bloatware itself can grow over time as newer versions become available, requiring updates and plug-ins that make them even less efficient.

Bloatware often comes from major software companies, such as E-bay, which has online links enabled, or antivirus providers like McAfee and Norton, which prompt you with messages about free trials or upgraded versions of the software.  These notices can be insistent and annoying, and if you accidentally click to install features of their software, it could lead to problems down the road.  If you unknowingly install Norton and later download AVG, rather than having double virus protection, you have two programs that cancel each other out and leave you without reliable security.  Even if you have a particular program, messages about additional services that you may or may not want, such as Norton’s online backup, appear repeatedly and can be easily installed, further taxing the system.

Bloatware’s one positive aspect is that it helps keep the prices down on new computers.  Manufacturers ask software companies if they want to pay to have elements of their programs pre-installed on the computers, which ultimately makes the cost lower for the consumer.  So instead of starting a campaign to eliminate bloatware, you can take steps to uninstall any unnecessary or unwanted software to get your computer running as efficiently as possible.

(As discussed on a WEEU radio broadcast 8/8/13.)

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