I'm sure many have heard about programs that promise to eliminate all the bloat that comes preinstalled on our computers. Tools like PC Decrapifier, SlimComputer or Decrap 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 the answer from this analysis:
Bloatware, Crapware, Software You Don't Need
This problem has been given 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, they will help you remove them in a more or less automated manner.
PC Decrapifier - How Does It Work?
PC Decrapifier is a free tool that you can download and run directly, without any installation required. It starts by analyzing your computer against a predefined list of known crapware. Then, it displays all the software it thinks is crapware and classifies into three different lists:
- Recommended: the programs displayed in this list are removed by many users.
- Questionable: these programs are removed by some PC Decrapifier users. They might not be all crapware.
- Everything Else: are programs and applications about which PC Decrapifier doesn't have enough information. The tool doesn't know if these are crapware or not.
You can browse these lists and select the crapware you want automatically uninstalled. When you've made your selection, press the Remove Selected button on the bottom of the PC Decrapifier window.
On the next screen, you'll see the complete list of everything that will be removed from your computer. On the bottom of the window, you can also choose whether PC Decrapifier will automatically create a system restore point before proceeding with the uninstall process. This is a good practice and we recommend that you do so.
SlimComputer – How Does It Work?
SlimComputer, at least in concept, is very similar to PC Decrapifier. SlimComputer is a tool that you must download and install in order to be able to use it.
Decrap – How Does It Work?
Decrap is another program that advertises itself as a crapware removal tool.
Similarly to PC Decrapifier and SlimComputer, it starts by analyzing your computer for known bloatware.
Once done, Decrap displays all the so called crapware into separate lists: Automatically Starting Software, Desktop Items, Drivers and other probably important software, Start Menu Items, Third Party Software and Windows Related Software. With two exceptions, Drivers and other probably important software and Windows Related Software, all the other lists are automatically selected for removal.
However, beware of pressing Next. We found a very unfortunate problem with Decrap: it automatically selects for removal almost everything installed on your computer. By that we really mean everything: even Internet Explorer is uninstalled if you don't pay attention and deselect it.
If you want to use Decrap, we highly recommend that you to manually choose which programs will be removed from your computer.
The Bloatware / Crapware We Used For Testing
In order to test the effectiveness of these three programs, we installed the following software that is bundled with certain models of computers: CyberLink PowerDVD, Adobe Reader, Magic Desktop, WeatherBug, DVD Menu Pack for HP MediaSmart Video, HP Advisor, Asus FancyStart, Picasa 3.9, 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 them unnecessary bloat.
After installing the software mentioned above, we ran each tool to learn what items they identify as bloatware and if they remove them.
Do PC Decrapifier, SlimComputer and Decrap 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.
We learned that all these programs are not that good at identifying crapware:
- PC Decrapifier identified only three items - Ask Toolbar, WeatherBug and DVD Menu Pack for HP MediaSmart Video.
- SlimComputer identified no items as being crapware.
- Decrap identified everything as being bloatware, including Windows programs like Internet Explorer.
The only way we could use these tools was to manually launch the setup of the programs we did not want and uninstall them manually. And you can do that from Windows, without installing any additional applications, using the steps we described in this tutorial: Did Add or Remove Programs Disappear? Where to Find It?.
You might say that we used a short list of bloatware / crapware programs. But that's not the issue.
The real issue is that these programs either use a predefined list of items that are considered bloatware, or they don't use any. For example, PC Decrapifier includes only 50 applications on its list with Top Applications Removed. We could not find a similar list for SlimComputer, but we're sure it uses one. As for Decrap, the fact that almost everything installed on a computer is considered bloatware is enough to prove that it uses no list whatsoever.
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.
So... How Do You Remove Crapware?
After this experience, we do not recommend using tools that promise to remove the crap that's 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 crapware lists.
The only way to remove the 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.