Detection and removal of bloatware, the resource-draining apps
Bloatware describes many applications, all sharing a specific trait – they’re unnecessary. This term can include pre-installed legitimate apps that are annoying at best and intrusive at worst. The truth is, most devices come preloaded with bloatware that occupies a large amount of disk space. Let’s find out how such apps waste your computing resources and how they reach devices in the first place.
How to tell if a program is bloatware?
Bloatware refers to unwanted apps that slow down machines, drain batteries, and require a lot of space. Most bloatware apps are annoying but not harmful. However, some have more malicious purposes in mind. They can contain intrusive malware that invades your privacy daily. Also, bloatware is versatile: it affects both mobile and computer systems. Hence, it is best to regularly run through the installed apps to get rid of useless tools.
Bloatware can take a few paths to reach your device:
- Pre-installed apps. Manufacturers can incorporate other in-house apps into devices to promote them. While these types of programs are not malicious, they consume a significant amount of resources. Luckily, they are rather easy to delete, but the removal might not be permanent. The manufacturer might push a certain product to the point that it keeps appearing on your device.
- Trialware. Pre-installed programs, referring to try-before-you-buy tools. You can use such third-party apps for a certain period. However, you have to buy the premium version once the trial expires.
- Toolbars. Bundles that sneak in alongside the apps you download intentionally. Software developers design them to target you with ads, urge you to upgrade or buy certain services. Scareware is a common component of such bundles. It falsely warns that your device may be at risk.
- Adware. It is the most invasive type of bloatware. You can unwittingly install it by visiting a malicious website or clicking on an infected link. The goal of adware is to generate annoying advertisements, spread malware, or install spyware that collects your data.
How bloatware impacts your device?
If bloatware arrives in the form of pre-installed apps, toolbars, or trialware, its impact on your device can vary. However, when bloatware continuously runs in the background or automatically opens after every reboot, it can drain your Random-Access Memory (RAM). Hence, this wasteful exploitation of computing power leads to slower execution of other processes.
When compared, adware exposes you to more risks than other types. Besides targeting you with malicious ads and pop-ups, adware opens the door to more viruses, specifically malware or spyware. The latter can spy on your every move, snoop on your traffic, and gather valuable information.
Getting rid of bloatware
The process of dealing with bloatware involves three major steps: preventing, detecting, and removing.
Prevention. One of the most effective, yet the simplest tools are antivirus programs. Antivirus software will detect and alert you about adware, spyware, and other infections.
While antivirus tools can go a long way toward protecting you from accidental downloads, you can also choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that comes with an adware-blocking feature. For instance, Atlas VPN has SafeBrowse. It is a feature that prevents you from visiting malicious services. Adding to this, a VPN protects you from spyware by encrypting web traffic with military-grade encryption protocols.
- Detection. Major signs of bloatware include slow performance, repetitive lag, or other noticeable irregularities. The first and foremost step is to check the CPU usage. Chances are, you’ll discover some resource-draining apps you should delete.
- Removal. The good news is that most pre-installed or trialware apps on your PC will disappear after a traditional removal process. However, some malicious apps can still leave traces, even after deletion.
For Windows, you can uninstall such apps using slightly advanced manual removal methods or a third-party uninstaller. Although macOS tends to be less bloatware-affected, you might still need to force-delete potentially risky apps or files. However, uninstalling manufacturers’ built-in software might be nearly impossible on mobile phones. Luckily, you can simply disable/offload the apps you don’t use via settings and stop them from running in the background.