I’m sure many have heard about programs that promise to eliminate all the bloat that comes pre-installed with our computers. Tools like PC Decrapifier and SlimComputer have been recommended by many blogs and experts. But... do they really work? Are they really effective in removing all the bloatware and crapware from your computer? Learn from this analysis.
Bloatware, Crapware, Software You Don’t Need
This problem has received many names. No matter what you call it, it is a sad and common practice. Each time you buy a new computer (desktop or laptop), its maker will sell it with some pre-installed software, most of which you won’t need.
At least in theory, these programs will scan your computer for promotional programs, toolbars, links to advertising or trial offers. Then, it will help you remove them in a more or less automated manner.
PC Decrapifier - How it Works
PC Decrapifier is free tool you can download and run directly, without any installation required. Prior to scanning your computer, you can have it check for a newer version and create a system restore point. This is really good practice and I recommend you follow these recommendations.
Then, it scans your computer against a predefined list of crapware and displays the items it detected. If known items are detected, they are displayed and you can have then uninstalled automatically.
Then, you are shown a list with all the programs installed on your computer and you can choose to manually remove those you don’t need.
SlimComputer - How it Works?
SlimComputer, at least in concept, is very similar to PC Decrapifier. You download its setup program and run it. Unfortunately SlimComputer starts by installing crapware onto your computer. Unless you do a custom installation, you will end up having the AVG Security Toolbar and AVG Secure Search products installed on your computer.
Once installed, you can use it for quite a few tasks. The main one (and the only one I tested) is to scan your computer for applications, browser add-ons and toolbars, shortcuts and startup items you don’t need.
Even though I cannot confirm with official documentation, SlimComputer also scans your computer against a list of known bloatware. If known items are identified, you can remove them automatically.
If not, you can go to the Uninstaller section and manually remove the programs you don’t need.
The Bloatware, Crapware I Used for Testing
In order to test the effectiveness of these two programs, I installed the following software that is bundled with certain models of computers: CyberLink PowerDVD, Adobe Reader, Magic Desktop, DVD Menu Pack for HP MediaSmart Video, HP Advisor, Asus FancyStart, Picasa 3, Norton Security Scan, AVG Security Toolbar, Ask Toolbar and Ask Toolbar Updater.
While some of these programs (e.g. Adobe Reader) can be useful to some users, others will consider it unnecessary bloat.
After installing the software mentioned above, I ran each tool to learn what items they identify as bloatware and if they remove them.
Do PC Decrapifier & SlimComputer Work?
The simple and very surprising answer is: “No! They don’t work!". They are as useful as most of the bloatware installed on your newly purchased computer.
I learned that PC Decrapifier identified only one item - the Ask Toolbar. SlimComputer identified no items as being crapware and also tried to install crapware on my computer.
The only way I could use these tools was to manually launch the setup of the programs I did not want and uninstall them myself. And I can do that from Windows, without installing any additional applications, using the steps in this tutorial: Where Can You Find Add or Remove Programs?.
You might say that I used a short list of bloatware/crapware programs. But that’s not the issue.
The real issue is that these programs use a predefined list of items that are considered bloatware. For example, PC Decrapifier includes only 50 applications on its list with Top Applications Removed. I could not find a similar list for SlimComputer, but I’m sure it uses one.
If such lists are not updated regularly and they don’t include bloatware installed by all the big PC makers, then they won’t work very well. Looking at the list provided by PC Decrapifier, it is clear to me that they ignore some of the bloatware found on Sony or Samsung computers, for example. Also, some software which is on their list was not identified. Most probably due to my bloatware version being very new and their list having dated information.
So... How Do You Remove Crapware?
After this experience, I do not recommend using tools that promise to remove the crap installed on your computer. They just won’t work, unless a lot of effort is invested into maintaining these products and keeping very up-to-date lists with crapware.
The only way to remove software you don’t need is to do it manually from Windows, or to use more advanced software uninstallers, to eliminate also the things that they leave behind. You can find suggestions for good tools, in this article: Roundup of Software Uninstallers - Reviewing IObit vs Ashampoo vs Revo.