You might use your camera app every day, but what about that browser that came with your phone? And that weather-checking app that you’re sure you didn’t install?
It’s all bloatware. And if it’s slowing down your device or worse, it might be time to remove some of these unwanted apps.
What is bloatware?
Bloatware is those apps that come preinstalled on your new smartphone, computer, or tablet. Some of these apps can be useful, and they might be apps that you’d want to install anyway.
But the term usually refers to unwanted apps taking up space on your device, cluttering the interface, and possibly affecting loading speeds. And there is a kind of bloatware that is more malicious than preinstalled apps—those that are installed from websites without the user’s permission, often adware or malware.
Why is bloatware a concern and why you should remove it
Bloatware is on your device because of business partnerships between the device maker and the app maker. It can add up and reduce the performance of your devices simply by taking up memory space.
There have also been cases where device makers included software that had very bad effects on the user experience. Take, for example, SuperFish, an adware that Lenovo added to its laptops that would display its own shopping results when users searched on Google, Amazon, or other websites. One side effect of this capability was significant damage to users’ browser security, which allowed attackers to intercept users’ browsers via Wi-Fi.
Even if your device doesn’t have a lot of bloatware, it’s best to declutter your device of unwanted or outdated apps that could contain security vulnerabilities and slow your phone down.
Common types of bloatware
Bloatware is a blanket term used to describe pre-installed software or apps on either computer or other electronic devices. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of bloatware.
Also known as demoware, trialware is software that runs for a limited period of time before expiring. In order to keep the app or software running, users will have to pay a subscription fee. For example, many PCs come with a time-limited version of Office 365 preinstalled.
Utility apps like the Weather, Magnifier, and Measure apps on the iPhone can take up significant memory space on your device. While these apps can be useful at times, consumers don’t have a say about whether the app should be downloaded or not.
Toolbars include programs like Bing Bar, Google Toolbar, Ask Toolbar, and Yahoo! Toolbar, that are either installed as an add-on or extensions of your browsers. They often piggyback on the installation of more popular free software. If you don’t use them regularly, be sure to remove them.
Adware is software that automatically sends online advertisements like pop-ups, banners, and videos in an operating system, browser or application. Once again, they often piggyback on popular free software. In fact, antivirus programs will often flag these as trojans. In addition to taking up your device’s resources, they may record cookie data on users who visit their site and tracks their online behavior. Examples of adware include Fireball, Appearch, and DollarRevenue.
How to remove bloatware from your devices
Bloatware is often more difficult to remove than apps you download from app stores. Here’s a quick look at how you can eliminate bloatware on various devices. Note that these steps work for most but not all bloatware. Try them first, but some might require more advanced solutions:
Remove bloatware from macOS:
Thankfully, removing bloatware from Apple’s macOS is relatively easy. Below, we highlight the best way to do so:
- Go to Applications > Get Info
2. Click on Sharing and Permissions
3. Then, you’ll have to enter your password and press the lock icon
4. Lastly, click on Read and Write and then hit Delete
Remove bloatware from Windows 10/11:
There are two ways to remove bloatware from Windows devices. The first is to uninstall them while the second is to use a tool known as Windows PowerShell.
Option 1: Uninstall
- Head to Apps & Features
- Look forApps Installer
- Then click on Uninstall
Option 2: Use Windows PowerShell
Using the Windows PowerShell technique is a little harder than uninstalling an app but it’s effective in getting rid of bloatware. If you want to use this technique, you’ll need to be careful when typing in these commands below:
- Open PowerShell
- Click on Windows + X
- Then click on Windows PowerShell (Run as Admin)
- Next, type the command Get-AppxPackage *Name of app you want to delete* | Remove-AppxPackage
Remove bloatware from iOS:
- Tap on Settings > General
2. Look for iPhone Storage and click on the available apps you’d like to delete.
Remove bloatware from Android:
If you own an Android device, you have two methods to removing bloatware from your devices. They are:
Option 1: Disable bloatware apps from running
- Navigate to your Applications > Settings
2. Tap on Apps & Notifications
3. Then Select the app you want to delete and tap on Disable
Option 2: Root your phone
Android users can root their devices to remove even the most stubborn bloatware. It might seem a little complex but here’s a quick guide.
Best bloatware removers
There are various bloatware removers available for Windows devices. Here are some we’ve found:
Windows10Debloater is an open-sourced tool that uses Windows PowerShell scripts to remove bloatware for you. The tool has a simple UI that makes it easy to remove various bloatware apps at once.
You can get the script for Windows10Debloater here.
BloatBox is a free app developed by Builtbybel for cleaning up PCs. With BloatBox, users can uninstall built-in or systematic apps by dragging and dropping them from one column to another and then clicking uninstall.
Get BloatBox here.
AVG TuneUp is a premium Windows application. However, the app also comes with a limited free trial. Unlike other bloatware cleanup tools, AVG TuneUp can help clean up the registry in PCs and disable certain apps that slow down the startup process. If you’re looking for software that can optimize your PC better, this one’s for you.
Download AVG TuneUp for your PC here.
SlimCleaner is a bloatware removal tool that relies on user reviews to determine if an app or software should be deleted. There’s also a premium version of the app that has various types of add-ons and optimizations to help clean up your PC.
Download SlimCleaner for your PC here.
WinPatrol is software that removes malicious apps and software from PC. The software works a bit like anti-malware and anti-virus apps and monitors the internal processes of your OS to see if particular applications are dangerous or suspicious.
Download WinPatrol for your PC here.
The PC Decrapifier
As its name suggests, PC Decrapifier is a tool that helps remove unnecessary apps and software that could slow down your PC. The software scans your computer and sends you a suggested list of apps to remove.
Download PC Decrapifier for your PC here.
Revo Uninstaller is a premium software that uninstalls and removes bloatware apps singularly or in batches. Unlike the other apps above, Revo Uninstaller also has free professional technical support.
Download Revo Uninstaller for your PC here.
Simple ways to identify bloatware
An easy way to determine if your device has bloatware is to see if it’s taking a long time to boot up or slowed reaction times. There are also other ways to identify bloatware. Here are some:
- It’s difficult to uninstall the app
If you’re not seeing an easy way to delete the app, it might be bloatware. As bloatware is often pre-installed by the manufacturer or the retailer, they’ll intentionally make it difficult to remove. On Android, you’ll know it’s bloatware when you only have the option to “disable” them rather than uninstall.
- You don’t recognize the app or software
If you see software on your device that you didn’t intentionally install, it may be bloatware. It’s easier to detect and remove unwanted bloatware on a new device since you have fewer apps to look through.
How to prevent bloatware
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent bloatware since it comes preinstalled. However, there are still ways to minimize clutter on your device.
Before downloading an app
Make sure to research an app you’re planning to download to ensure that it doesn’t come with unnecessary bloatware. If you’ve downloaded an app that has bloatware, avoid clicking any links or ads unnecessary. Often, bloatware will present itself as a part of the installation process for more useful software, so be sure to read what’s on screen before clicking “yes” or “continue”. If you’re concerned about a particular app, try looking it up and seeing if other people have experience with the app. If you’re in doubt, it’s better to delete the app.
Choose devices with less bloatware
Before you purchase a smartphone, laptop or tablet, do your research and look for devices that come with less bloatware. There are also several subreddits that discuss bloatware found in different devices.
Download software from the original source
Always download apps or software from its original source or from a reliable source like the App Store, Google Play Store, and Microsoft Store. These platforms generally verify their apps to be free of piggybacked malware before allowing them on their stores.
Fight bloatware when you see it
Once you’ve identified bloatware on your device, make it a point to delete it immediately. Being cautious about the software and apps on your device will help you effectively fight bloatware and keep your devices running smoothly.
Can you buy a device without bloatware?
You sure can! Sites like KnowYourMobile offer guides to Android phones with the least amount of bloatware. Windows has also released a Signature Edition PC that’s supposedly free of bloatware.
FAQ: About bloatware
Is there bloatware on Samsung devices?
Yes. Most Samsung devices come with preinstalled software and apps like Samsung’s AR Emoji, recreational apps like Flipboard and Live Message, as well as Samsung Gear VR’s apps.
What is Samsung bloatware?
Samsung bloatware are apps and software that were created for and catered to users in the Samsung eco-system. Most of them are safe to remove.
Is bloatware a virus or spyware?
In short, no. However, bloatware can expose users to great cybersecurity risks by slowing down your devices and clogging up space on your operating system. The only exception is adware or malware that gets piggybacked on free software, antivirus programs will often flag those as trojans.
What causes bloatware?
Often, bloatware is added in by device and software companies to incorporate new features and convince them to purchase their products. They are often the result of a commercial agreement between the bloatware maker and hardware vendor. These commercial agreements are also what makes this software difficult to remove.
Another cause of bloatware is that device makers want you to participate in their software ecosystem, helping them move up the value chain. You can recognize this type of bloatware because manufacturers will often include their names on their programs, making it easier to spot and remove.
Is bloatware a security risk?
Yes, bloatware is a security risk. Bloatware is often poorly maintained, leading to vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Also, some bloatware such as Superfish actively compromises security by intercepting web traffic. That’s why it’s important to remove bloatware whenever you see it.
Why is it called bloatware?
Bloatware is a portmanteau of “bloat” and “software”, which describes software that can overfill a device.
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