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(also Potentially Unwanted Programs)

Bloatware definition

Software you don’t want that slows down your device. These are programs that are pre-installed on new devices, come bundled with other downloads, or are injected into your system through malicious websites.

How bloatware ends up on your devices

  • Software developers make a deal with device manufacturers so that their apps are pre-installed on phones, TVs, or computers.
  • Device manufacturers want you to use their software, not third-party apps, so you can’t uninstall or disable it.
  • You download bloatware yourself, unknowingly, when installing other legitimate software.

How to identify bloatware

  • The app is difficult or impossible to uninstall. You try disabling it, and it pops right back up; you go to the Control Panel, and it’s not there. Some bloatware is very difficult to get rid of and may require additional software or a complete system wipedown.
  • If you don’t remember downloading and installing a piece of software on your device, it probably piggybacked with some other app.
  • It’s intrusive, repeatedly asking you to buy a subscription or additional features, redirecting your traffic, or changing your homepage.

How to avoid bloatware

  • Don’t buy devices that are known to come with a lot of pre-installed apps.
  • Only download software from official app stores or directly from the developers.
  • Whenever you install software, check to see if anything else was installed with it.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security

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