Maintenance Tip: Keeping Unwanted Bloatware Off Your System

Images of unwanted programs attached to common program downloads

What do all the images in the photo have in common? They all contain junk you don't want. The old adage is that 'nothing in life is ever free' and that is doubly true for 'free' software that you download from the internet. So how do you keep from 'paying' for it in the form of a computer loaded with bloatware and garbage?

Simply "Uncheck the box!". Those three little words will keep your computer from filling up with bloatware and programs you didn't ask for.

In the image above we see three common downloads (Adobe Reader, Java, & RealPlayer) and two popular downloads from CNET's top 50 (Free YouTube Downloader & VirtualDJ Home FREE). Each program has at least one additional program, toolbar, or browser settings change attached and checked by default; some are legitimate, some are questionable, but all are unrequested.

Adobe Reader currently comes with Chrome, arguably one of the best web browsers available, so it is not as worrisome as the rest.

Java & VirtualDJ both include the Ask toolbar and set Ask as your default search provider. Ask currently accounts for about 2.7% of all searches and personally believe the vast majority of people who have Ask set as their default search did not do so intentionally.

RealPlayer currently includes The Weather Channel Desktop program, a program commonly associated with Adware.DomaIQ (by MalwareBytes) and Win32/DomaIQ.C (by Eset Antivirus). While neither classify this program as a virus per se, they do view it as a potentially unwanted program due to spyware characteristics.

The Free YouTube Downloader includes the AVG Toolbar, and while AVG is considered one of the very best free antivirus software providers; however, I, as a general rule, consider all toolbars to be unnecessary bloatware that slow down the loading time on browsers.

*Note* I do have one exception to the 'no toolbars' rule and that is the Google Toolbar, and then only when the person using it is a web developer using it to quickly see Google's Page Rank for web pages they are managing.

So, if you were to do what most people do and just hit Next>Next>Next>Finish as fast as you can click on each of the five programs shown; you would also get: 2 additional programs, 3 toolbars, 1 homepage hijacker, and 2 search page hijackers. That's 8 unrequested changes made to your computer in addition to the 5 programs you actually wanted.

In all cases those additional programs are selected (approved) for installation by default and here is where you will want to get familiar with the three magic words for keeping your downloads from filling your computer with unwanted programs and changes, and those are "Uncheck the box!".

Uncheck the box! Nearly every piece of software you download will have a pre-checked box somewhere in the installation process. Make a habit of finding it and unchecking it so you can maintain relative control over what gets installed on your PC.

Now for the biggest surprise of this entire article... while you might think that they shouldn't be allowed to include these unrequested additions with your 'free' download; however, the reality is if you like using those programs, you have to accept...appreciate even, that they are there. Almost always, those unwanted programs are paying the program that you actually wanted to include their program with the download.

The money that they generate allows them continue working on the product, developing updates, and even new projects. The best part is, if you just remember to "Uncheck the box!" the people who don't will be paying for those updates for you.