You just got a new phone or computer, but there’s already an assortment of programs waiting for you on the main screen- half of them you’ve never heard of before. After all, how many programs do you need for pictures and music anyway? What you have is bloatware, but what exactly is it and why is it there?

Bloatware: What is it? And who would do this?

Bloatware is a program or application that is overloaded with features. It’s also the pre-installed applications on computer or mobile devices that the system doesn’t need to function. It’s not a virus, but is does take up hard drive space, utilize RAM, and possibly prohibit other programs’ functionality.

Software companies pay computer and mobile device manufacturers to install their programs on your device prior to shipment. They will also partner up to have their programs tag-along with others during downloads. For example: on Adobe’s website, when you download Adobe Reader, they want you to download McAfee as well. The software companies that come out with these programs would never call them bloatware. They call them “lite” versions, and the full-featured version is available for a fee.

Why do they do it?

Short answer: how else will some of these software companies get you to try their product? Usually these programs have few reviews and limited capabilities, but the software company believes if you try their program, you’ll stick with it out of convenience or upgrade to the full version.

Beating the Bloat

You can’t control what’s put on your device before you receive it, but there are steps you can take once it is in your possession to remove bloat and prevent it from coming back.

  1. Be observant: when downloading applications from the Internet, scan all option choices to ensure you haven’t left a box checked that would download extra, unnecessary software.
  2. Visit the control panel: select Programs and Features in the control panel, then Uninstall Programs. Remove programs you aren’t going to use, or don’t use often enough to justify the hard drive space being utilized for it. Remember that just because something is already there, that doesn’t make it worth keeping.
  3. Mobile devices allow you to uninstall programs from the main menu.
    • On an iPhone, press and hold an icon on the main screen. When the icons begin to shake, an x will appear next to the icons. Tap the x on the application you want to delete and follow the prompt, understand that some applications cannot be deleted.
    • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime devices require users to press and hold a fingertip on the application, then drag the application to the uninstall option depicted by a trash bin. Galaxy S6 users should select “Apps,” then “Edit,” and select the red horizontal line next to the application to be uninstalled. Follow the prompt to complete the uninstallation.

So if you think your computer or phone is out of space or running too slowly, check the installed programs list. Perhaps it’s simply bogged down with bloatware ready for removal. It’s a fast, free, and easy way to clean up and speed up your system.