This is an update of a post I wrote a couple years ago. Definitely worth revisiting now that most folks have unwrapped their holiday presents.
New PC? The last thing you want is a bunch of preloaded, unwanted software slowing it down.
This stuff goes by many names: junkware, shovelware, and the ever-popular crapware.
Why the mean-spirited moniker? Simple: The proprietary and/or third-party software that many vendors preload on their PCs is mostly junk. It consumes space on your hard drive, causes your system to boot slower than it should, and just generally gets in the way.
Yes, I'm looking at you, McAfee Internet Security. And disc-burning utilities. And Microsoft Office Trial. You're not bad products, but I didn't ask for you, and I don't want you unless I want you. Get it?
There are two ways to go about shoveling out the shovelware. First, you can install one of my longtime favorite utilities, Revo Uninstaller, then manually remove unwanted apps one by one.
Second, you can take advantage of the aptly named PC Decrapifier, which was created for the sole purpose of removing crapware. The latest version (2.2.8) can kick nearly 100 crap apps to the curb, everything from AOL to Yahoo! Toolbar. Of course, it's not an all-or-nothing proposition: You can choose exactly which programs it uninstalls.
Yes, I recognize the irony of installing software to remove software. But Revo Uninstaller is worth having anyway, and you can dump PC Decrapifier when you're done with it.
As to the question of what programs you should keep and what you should pitch, tread carefully. For example, if your system came with a Blu-ray drive and you remove a bundled program like Arcsoft TotalMedia Theater, you may lose the ability to watch Blu-ray movies. When in doubt, keep the crap.
In most cases, however, if there's a program you don't recognize or don't think you want (a little Googling can answer most questions), get rid of it.
Contributing Editor Rick Broidawrites about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.Sign up to have theHassle-Free PC newslettere-mailed to you each week.