Windows

Five apps for crapware cleanup

You don't have to put up with the aggravation of crapware. Here are several effective tools for removing it from your Windows PC.
It's that time of year again. Odds are good you or someone you know will be getting a new computer or computing device as a gift for the holidays. Unfortunately, that often means crapware will have to be eliminated. With that in mind, we revisit this Five Apps Blog post from January 2012.

If you buy new PCs from OEMs, you are probably all too familiar with the plague known as "crapware": the useless applications that come installed with Windows. Crapware wastes space, often ties up your RAM and CPU power, and can be a major hassle to get rid up. Luckily, there's a solution. These five applications will help you deal with the crapware quickly and safely.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: The PC Decrapifier

Well, it should be pretty clear from the name what The PC Decrapifier does. This zero-install application, shown in Figure A, easily removes the most common pieces of junk that clutter up a new Windows PC. You can run it from a USB drive (great for desktop support technicians), and it has two low-priced purchase plans, one for commercial use and one for individuals.

Figure A

The PC Decrapifier

2: SlimComputer

SlimComputer (Figure B) doesn't just remove crapware. It also performs basic performance tuning, such as disabling services and reordering startup items. It can remove some of the less intrusive items, too, like links to trial offers. SlimComputer is interesting in that users can give feedback on what applications should be included in the scans, and it uses a cloud-based system to get this crowdsourced data when you run a scan.

Figure B

SlimComputer

3: WinPatrol

WinPatrol (Figure C) is not nearly as automated as some of the other tools on this list, but what it lacks in automation, it makes up for with control. WinPatrol provides extensive lists of the applications on your system and gives you the choice to disable or remove them. There is a feature-limited free edition as well as a paid version. Read TechRepublic's interview with WinPatrol's author.

Figure C

WinPatrol

4: Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller (Figure D) is an app in the tradition of the uninstallers that were popular in the Windows 9X era. It can show the installed applications on your system and remove them, of course. But more important, it can look at applications that are already gone, find the traces of them that were left over, and give them the heave-ho as well. In addition, it can monitor what occurs during an installation and use that data to completely uninstall an application. Revo Uninstaller has free and paid versions.

Figure D

Revo Uninstaller

5: CCleaner

After you have uninstalled the crapware, use CCleaner (Figure E) to make sure that no traces of it are left behind. CCleaner can also perform the basic tasks of uninstalling software and detecting what runs on startup. It comes in a free edition, a "home" edition, and a commercial user edition. There is also a portable version for running from a USB drive that does not require an installation of its own.

Figure E

CCleaner

More on the war against crapware

Other choices?

Do you have a favorite crapware removal tool that didn't make this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

82 comments
dominique berry
dominique berry

Crapware is not a major problem as you taking it so heavy.just get your solution with some steps and getting rid of it.find your solution with free assistance @1-800-935-0537

nv1z
nv1z

One of my gripes about smartphones is the amount of crapware that comes pre-installed on most smartphones. Further, the consensus among geek-friends [I used to be a geek on what would be called 'legacy' systems] is that this manureware is not removable. I already noticed that for apps I select voluntarily, I always have the option to 'update', 'remove' or 'uninstall', 'disable', etc. With the I-dont-care-ware, the remove/uninstall option is not available. Moreover, the larger carriers have set up the means to 'push' this bovine fecal matter to our phones should they find it gone. Any ideas?

peterlonz
peterlonz

I could have figured this much & perhaps more in a 5 min Google search. What I expect from reviewers is an experienced based perspective of the SW. I also expect to be advised right away is the SW free & if not the price. And is it too much to ask for the recommended products to be rated: best (no 1) worst (no XX); or by the traditional 5 star rating? Poor effort overall directed at the novice user.

mark.caldwell
mark.caldwell

Luckily my organization is fairly small (100 users ). With only two in I.T. bloatware is a real problem with OEM's. Unfortunately many of our PC's are different models as we buy them in chunks or we'd just wipe and install one models with the proper software and none of the bloat and image that box. We've tried solutions like CCleaner and it has caused other problems for us (HIPPA, NISH certifications) so we do it the old fashioned way, manually!

andygreyrider
andygreyrider

I have noticed that many, if not all of these so-called 'cleaners' have other annoying software bundled with them. It is this bundled software that, then slows down your computer whilst, you are sitting there feeling smug for using a cleaner, as it is whirring away in the background taking up resources willy-nilly. There is hardly ever a 'custom' option to install like there is with, professionally developed, paid-for-software and never an uninstaller. There are tools already installed within your operating system, to remove unwanted software and these are free also! Using of these 'cleaners' will bugger up your operating system. They will encourage you to 'clean' deeper into the workings of your computer, for false dawns, whilst you render it beyond repair and losing valuable data and treasured photographic memories. I am fortunate enough to have more than one computer, often made from throwaway items, that nobody wants anymore, except me! I have backed up data that unshackles me to test these claims. What you then save via using junk, can be put to better use elsewhere like employing a computer engineer to build you another. A fragmented reply, from a fragmented life, that is fragmented into computer data. Your computer is a mirror image, an extension of you, as one gets older and slow (like overladen vehicles), protesting 'til they die.

pappanoodles
pappanoodles

Geek Uninstaller is currently a favourite of mine. For the whole of this year I have run it alongside Revo. To cut a long story short - not a lot between them. Geek however has a much smaller footprint and kicks in more quickly.

heb9999
heb9999

The easiest way to solve the crapware problem is avoidance. I have not bought a pc from a vendor since the late 90's. After a bit of research based on what you want the machine to do, you can order the components on line and build your own, then install the OS of choice. Owning setup discs also allows for easier cleanup for the abandoned stuff left on disc from upgrades/uninstalls and occasional malware that slips past protective software. You can wipe the OS partition and reinstall to pristine condition.

dw4comp
dw4comp

None of the first 4 programs (didn't try Ccleaner) even recognized the dozen games preinstalled on my HP computer. WinPatrol doesn't even seem to have a tab for finding and removing regular applications. SlimComputer has a "Remove" button for Startup Items that does not make it clear that you are disabling them as startups rather than uninstalling them. The default setting on SlimComputer didn't even find any applications when I scanned for those. I had to adjust the settings to the next level. The Info features of these programs, ostensibly there to help you determine the purpose and value of the items you are considering removal of, was only marginally useful. Overall this is a disappointing batch of programs, and that makes this a marginally useful article.

lhomicz
lhomicz

I have tried to copy this article without success. The print and copy function does not work for this blog. I would like to obtain a copy of this blog. Thank You

thebalancepro
thebalancepro

I installed Slimware on the strength of this article only to have it install and configure AVG SecureSearch, without asking, and override my preference for Google Search, without asking. Slimware's an American company. I read somewhere that Americans sometimes have a little trouble with irony. Not Slimware: here's an anti-crapware package that installs its own crapware! Ironic to the point of genius. Nick

butkus
butkus

I can't tell you how many people buy these "all in one" scanners/printers and just install everything. They load up the PC with 15 additional startup items (including a fax program) that kills the machine. Who uses faxes anymore ? First of all many people don't have copper phone lines. I just dumped my line after 32 years. $34 a month and I couldn't call 3 miles away without being charged. Verizon's home line cost $20 a month and I can call anywhere, but they warn you that alarms and faxes won't work. Comcast and other "internet" phone connections loose fax and other alarm abilities. Yet the software doesn't ask you if you want a fax line.. just installs the startup program and update startups. It should check the modem and question why there is no dial tone. Yes, the first thing should be format and install. But many computers don't offer CDs but a boot partition that only restores Windows to the same bloated state.

russcoulter1
russcoulter1

I have always used msconfig as the way to disable annoying services and apps that start when you don't want them to (and I have to say I find google and quicktime to be pretty persistent), but for removing detritus in your registry, CCleaner is hard to beat in my experience.

btracy713
btracy713

Skip all the headaches, and buy a Mac! :)

griff.computerservices@ve
griff.computerservices@ve

Hey Sean Byrne: I agree with you completely. As a computer tech for almost 25 years, I've installed, uninstalled, tweaked, prodded and cursed at hundreds and hundreds of new Windows-based computers brought to me that contained a boat-load of pre-installed crapware. And, those damn demo games and voluminous 60-day "trial" garbage software has boiled my blood over the years. Computer manufacturers could NOT care less about cramming junk on pristine OS'. Remember the days when the advertised specs of new Windows computers included a long list of useless "free" software that nobody wanted? However, for the uninitiated, it certainly was a great selling point. What a scam that was! Nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to find any software, save for the OS, in any advertised specs. As a computer builder, my customers only get the software they request and nothing more.

axma55
axma55

Thanks for recommending SlimComputer (sarcasm). It tried to install its own crapware and tried to change my homepage.

IT Support23
IT Support23

Great apps list! In my case I used PC Decrapifier.

george
george

Removing crapware from new desk/laptops used to be quite a chore; it's much less of an issue these days and the tools mentioned above can help. What the world needs is a way to remove crapware from Android smartphones (I'm looking at YOU, Verizon Wireless). Delete-protecting that stuff and threatening to void warranty for removing it: not nice.

GSCOTTJ
GSCOTTJ

Thanks for writing up an article with all the apps on one page rather than making everyone step through one of those darn picture galleries to read it piecemeal. Rarely did I ever get past the second or third page of those gallery articles before ditching. So much easier to just have all the info right in front of me at one time.

J-R-Doe
J-R-Doe

Good article, but some of the products in the discussion thread might be additional fodder for the article. Anyway very appropriate... Thanks

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

1. Get tools to save hard drive images and do partitioning. 2. Save the OEM hard drive image. 3. Clean the system using the tools you list and more like registry cleaners etc. etc. 4. Once you have ripped out the junk, install what you want and make your customized changes (add partitions, Linux, dev tools etc.) 5. Re-image the system so that you can backstep to this image when your system fails, it always fails at the worst times. 6. Repeat as needed.

calliecree
calliecree

Have any of you used Glary Utilities? If so, what has been your experience?

scs400
scs400

What about CLEANUP452.exe

Dyalect
Dyalect

Not just slap down a fresh o/s image. Most new computers have serial key right on box. Just get a copy of Windows 7 from a buddy, reinstall and input new key. De-crapping is nice, but the bloatware is so overwhelming sometimes, you most likely waste hours trying to find it all and still leave things behind.

raymond.langley
raymond.langley

Wise Disk Cleaner works great is fast and has an option for slimming the system down by uninstalling windows addons

tommy
tommy

One thing (among many) that I like about Win7 is it's good on-board back-up and recovery routines. I tend to buy PC's from Dell in bulk, and while one batch will differ from the next, I can safely spend a day decrapifying a PC and getting it up to full running order with everything I need on it, and all the rubbish I don't need off it. Having done this I can take a native system image of the, now perfectly configured machine, and spend no more then a couple of hours re-imaging all the other machines in the batch. Barring machine name changes prior to plugging in to the network, they're ready to go and bloat-ware free. It also means I've got a nice clean install image if, in the future, I need to start again from scratch because of systems problems. Anything software related that I spend more then 1/2 an hour trying to fix without success, I just format the disk and reload the image. Saves me LOADS of time.

techrepublic
techrepublic

I have been using WinPatrol for probably 7 years and it is the one program I will never go without. The free version works great and the Plus version (which I own) would be a bargain at 3x (if not more) the price at which it's offered. It has kept more crap off of my systems than I can count.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If the OEM put it on the phone, it's there to stay...unless you can root the phone.

JCitizen
JCitizen

as you can simply deselect the crapware(if you call Google chrome crapware), and install without any of that junk. Most of the time Secunia PSI auto-updates many things without worry along that line - what it doesn't cover - File Hippo generally updates without adding that stuff too. When it does, I simply de-select those irritants. Major Geeks is trying to do something similar along the same lines as File-Hippo Update Checker, but it didn't make much sense to me on first look. Maybe I'll figure it out later.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

CCleaner and Glary Utilities have uninstallers. Glary Utilities tries to get you to install a toolbar. CCleaner tries to get you to install something if you are using XP (I haven't noticed anything being offered to me in W7). I've used both of these programs for years and the only problem I've encountered was related to MS Project. Both of these programs offer to create backups (CCleaner) or automatically create them (Glary Utilities).

Justin James
Justin James

Sorry to hear about that, I've let the editor of the article know, hopefully she can help you out. This is also the second time in a few days that I have heard a similar complaint, and I am letting the higher level management know about these issues. J.Ja

btljooz
btljooz

I simply made a PDF of this whole page using a Firefox add-on called pdfit. If you can install Firefox or one of its branches/clones like Cometbird or Pale Moon, just to name two you can install pdfit and even another add-on called Web2PDF. The differences between the two are: 1. pdfit operates locally from your own computer but does NOT make the links in the page clickable links. 2. Web2PDF is a web based app where a third party turns the selected web page into a PDF _WITH_ its clickable links in tact. Of course if the author of this article offered it already converted like the author of "Five tips for getting rid of crapware" did all of this would be unnecessary. ;) I hope this helps. :D

Jody Gilbert
Jody Gilbert

Sorry for the inconvenience -- if you'll email me (jody.gilbert@cbsi.com), I'll be happy to send you a PDF copy of the article. j

SKDTech
SKDTech

I don't even install quicktime or any other video/audio programs. Google is persistent though, even when I don't have any of their products installed.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Mac also comes with loads of rubbish no-one uses - the difference is you can't get rid of them and there aren't any clean-up utilities that take them off!

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

I clicked to it (slideshow!), and was delighted to actually see a link to this format. Would've skipped the article otherwise. Very thoughtful to provide a version to us slideshow-averse members, JJ; thank you!!

bart001fr
bart001fr

Go to the gallery version, and copy/paste the text and pictures into a word processor called Jarte (free; Google it). You can copy pictures into a Jarte text as easily as text. Once that's done, clean it up and save the file. Then save the file again, but as a .pdf. Nitro will usually take over at this point (Just print and in the requester print as a .pdf. Make Nitro your main PDF app) and make a very proper .pdf file. And if you don't like the output, fix the Jarte .rtf file, save it again and make the .pdf file again, just overwriting the first, or second or third, one. Easy as cake and easier than pi.

JGSecurity
JGSecurity

theres a bunch of addons that will take any webpage, convert to pdf and email you the result in a zip file, i dont remember the exact names offhand but you can find them easily on mozilla addons page

digharris
digharris

I keep a portable version on a flash drive for troubleshooting pc's. It's simple to use and works very well. I've used it for a couple of years now and no issues yet.

JCitizen
JCitizen

as it can actually stop the worst violators from running. Of course you have to pay for either the Anti-malware or Mamutu product to get that feature. I am not a shill and only work for I and my clients. I actually use both WinPATROL and Mamutu. (edited)Actually Comodo's Defense+ that comes with the free firewall is probably just as good, except it is a kernel level solution, and can conflict with other similarly coded security solutions. Winpatrol and Defense+ are the poor man's Zeus defense!

lhomicz
lhomicz

Thank you for the reply. I tried all the ways to copy a web page without success. Everytime I tried to copy the article the page would return to the initial site of the article, and copying would not happen.

jpdemers
jpdemers

... you'd know different.

bart001fr
bart001fr

You're thinking about Nitro. An excellent PDF utility and way better than Adobe's PDF reader! They have the paid version, (-30% right now) which can let you edit .pdf files directly, the free version, where you can't edit a .pdf but can easily roll your own, and the Firefox add-on available through the Firefox add-ons page.

dstn321
dstn321

I've used Glary for years on my laptop and on a flash drive for others and it's been great. It's also easy to train users to run the 1-click maintenance on a regular basis.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I'm not sure why, if he wants to print it, he should need to copy it first.

btljooz
btljooz

lhomicz said in his original post that he couldn't copy the article so he could print it. I'm trying to offer him a workaround so that he can print the article. While PDF Creator is a great program (I use it, myself) it is not designed to copy web pages.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Install PDF Creator or other pdf conversion software (CutePDF, doPDF, etc.) and simply print the page, selecting the pdf converter as the desired printer. Although my preferred converter is PDF Creator, I've never, ever had a problem with any of these three...

btljooz
btljooz

OOOOK, if you can't get your own computer to do this for you, the next step is to try an on-line web to PDF converting site. Since I can't get an actual link to post here you will have to do a search and find "Convert Web Page to PDF - #1 Web to PDF Converter" to convert the desired page ...in this case this article... to a PDF. This particular service does not require an e-mail. From there you can either print that off once you download/save the PDF or you can do some research into "PDF to Word freeware" so you can convert PDFs into Word documents in order to work with them to your liking. Again, I hope this helps. :D

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

I don't, but I've had to support them for years and can do more on them than many of their owners can. And I say again: Macs come with lots of preinstalled crapware that no-one uses. The only difference is most of it isn't 3rd party crapware, it's published by Apple as part of the OS. Still crap.