Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Web Secret #13 - getting rid of junk

I call it junk. It’s the software that comes preinstalled on new Windows computers. It is there, usually in a trial version, to entice you to try a particular service or buy the full-featured program. Typically, it might be a trial version of McAfee or Norton, a graphics program like Corel, or offers from Internet service providers like Earthlink. The idea is to send you, the new PC owner, to sites to spend money for products or services, or entice them to use a service free for 30 days, and then buy it.

This unwanted junk can can bog down your operating system and slow its start-up, clog the storage capacity of your hard drive and crowd the desktop with unwanted or unused icons or other irritating graphics.

Who needs it?

Tracking down and eliminating the junk is not hard, but a person unfamiliar with system registries and computer configurations is going to need help. Ironically, the easiest thing might be to use more software.

PC Decrapifier (gotta love that name) is a free download for users of Vista and XP. It locates suspected junk and after a request to confirm, removes it.

Another option is Revo Uninstaller which claims to be a much faster and more powerful alternative to the Windows Add or Remove Programs function. It is easy to understand, and one can review installations either as icons or in a list view. A large “uninstall” button points the way.

Note: Some companies are wising up and giving consumers some power over what free software is installed.

So if you are paying attention when you order your new laptop from Dell, you can reject trial software from AOL and Earthlink, Adobe Photoshop, and the Microsoft Works productivity program.

Of course you can always switch to Apple. The company does not load trial versions of software on its Macs, iMacs and MacBooks.

(Mac users you can stop gloating now.)

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