From Bloat To Craplet

Digestion of Craplets

From bloatware to craplets seems like a logical progression for unwanted waste. Are computer manufacturers finally taking this logical approach to removing the crap-lets they’ve been dumping on us?

Yesterday I was setting up a new laptop for a friend. I wanted to get it out of the box and make sure there were no problems accessing the Internet. After testing and timing the laptops used for our last look at bloatware, I was worried that my friend would end up with a mess. Surprisingly the first boot went smoother than I expected. There was no flood of pop-ups or junk. Humph! Maybe things are getting better. That was a whole lot easier than what I encountered a year ago.

In June of 2007 Rob Cheng produced a video outlining the nuisance bloatware installed on 8 brand new laptops. You can reference that video from this link. There were several measures used for that ranking, including number of craplets, wasted hard drive space, and time needed to access the Internet. The average “first boot time” was somewhere around 50 minutes and the pop-ups were crippling.

Had this situation improved since my last exposure? To find out I went back and tested laptops from the same 8 companies. My intent was to measure craplets and bloatware not hardware performance, so I chose a cross-section of laptops ranging in price from $499.99 to $899.99. All were dual core processors but some were Intel and some were AMD. Installed memory ranged from 768MB to 3000MB. Processor size ran from 1.6GHz to 2.0 GHz. I should note here that in all cases Vista makes finding and securing a wireless Internet connection a snap. After achieving a calm and clear desktop, getting on line took only seconds.

Take a look at these surprising results.

Sony VGN NR185E 1.6 1024 19,390 61 26 AOL and Symantec Pop-Ups Troublesome/Popup before desktop. Huge number (28) of Sony/ DRM software
Compaq 1.9 2048 20,000 42 20 WildTangent, Vongo, Yahoo, Norton/Symantec, AIM
Acer Aspire 4520 1.9 1024 11,960 38 10 Norton/Symantec installed and active
HP Pavilion Entertainment 2.0 2048 20,090 34 10 HP Total Care caused an Internet Explorer Error. Ctl/Alt/Del only escape. WildTangent
Dell 1526 2.0 3072 16,090 36 18 Offer to decline Google Toolbar results in it being installed
Toshiba Satellite 205 1.6 2048 15,070 31 9 The only mfg with Norton/Symantec and McAfee installed, WildTangent, Google, QuickBooks, No restore Partition.
Gateway M6319 1.7 2048 15,350 22 7 Norton/Symantec popup not until 3rd boot.
Apple iMac 2.1 1024 N/A N/A N/A No craplets installed. No price reduction in 10 months.

Just as I expected the boot times had decreased significantly. Instead of the 50-minute average we saw in June, the average is now 14 minutes. That is a huge reduction. Gone is the bombardment of pop-ups assaulting new owners. Unfortunately what you see is not what you get. The actual number of craplets and the amount of wasted space has increased significantly.

The only company that isn’t bombarding us with junk is Apple. Their laptop remains unchanged since our study 10 months ago. Six months ago the worst offender in number of craplets installed had been Gateway. Today their total number is exactly the same. The worst offender however, now has three times that number of craplets. Leave it to Sony to capture the lead in this race.

Sony is now clearly the King of Crap. Their included media applications and DRM software clogs the Add/Remove programs list and startup menu like flood debris. Between craplets and restore partitions you are giving up 20 gigs of space on your hard drive. This is just not acceptable. I don’t want to get bogged down in the minutia here so you can read the disheartening results. Rather than each offensive detail I’m going to point out the overall trends.

1. First and foremost crapware is increasing. The average number of extra programs, junk, and trialware has increased to 38 items with Sony taking the lead at a whopping 61 items.

2. Wasted hard drive space is averaging 15 gigs. It’s notable that Dell and Toshiba are including an Operating System install disk with your purchase. All others are relying on a restore partition on the drive you paid for. With hard drive size increasing, I expect this to average over 20 gigs in another 6 months. Shameful!

3. Toshiba is the only manufacturer that does not waste your hard drive with a restore partition. They include a factory restore installation disk with your purchase.

4. Toshiba is also the only manufacturer to include both Norton and McAfee on your laptop. This is clearly a new crown of excellence in bloatware. Just 10 months ago Rob noted that fortunately no one had included two AV programs. It didn’t take long for someone to take this dubious honor.

5. WildTangent, Norton/Symantec, Yahoo Toolbar, Google Toolbar, Microsoft Office, continue to dominate the top positions in the world of crapware. QuickBooks is a new guy on the scene and Napster is still around.

So what made me think things were better? Well, one thing we noted in our last comparison was that Gateway had spaced out how their crapware was presented. Their craplets didn’t hit you in the face like mortar rounds during the first boot. Having heard our cries for relief from this bombardment, what did Sony, Dell, and the others do? They followed Gateways lead of course. Why would I ever expect them to do the obvious and remove the offensive crap? That would give the consumer the new crap-free machine they paid for. That would mean the end of paying over $100.00 to repair shops and geek troops to remove what the factories were just paid to install. How have we become so zombie-like that we are willing to pay a repair charge for a machine we haven’t even used? Loading our computers up with crap, popups, and spyware is supposed to be the job of the unsavvy user, not the factory making the tool. This is exactly like buying a saw from the local hardware store only to find that the factory has intentionally dulled it. Oh, your brand new saw doesn’t cut? That’s OK we’ll sharpen it for you for only $175.00.

Are you kidding me? Give us the clean new machine we paid for and give it to us now!

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27 thoughts on “From Bloat To Craplet”

  1. So that’s what all that useless stuff on my brand-new HP laptop is called. I include M$S Office ‘trial’ in that category, too (I’m an Open Office fan). Yes, no OS instal disk, just make your own which, of course, means my instal disks (yes – THREE DVD’s worth) will have the necessary OS and stuff, but from now and forever they will have all this craplets stuff, too. Working through all the things to delete, I, like others have pointed out, don’t really know what is craplets, or what is vital for correct operation of my machine.

    I agree – what we really need is some smart person, or corporation (PC Tools? 🙂 to find a way to help get rid of this useless junk. The PC makers certainly aren’t going to do it.


  2. I understand and share the gripes. Would someone please devise a step-by-step procedure I (a neophyte)could follow
    to remove this stuff? He/she could become a folk-hero.

  3. I know I have alot of unneeded stuff on my computer, but I don’t know what is necessary for it to run. Had the Windows XP reinstalled last Nov because I thought that I had messed something up. More junk on computer & I don’t think the reinstall was needed.

  4. At work we are a Dell shop, and everytime we get a PC, laptop or desktop, the first thing we do is format the drive and install XP clean. Then we add on the driver, etc, we want manually. It is the only way we can get certain of our buiness programs to work. All the crap ware causes them to crash. We buy nice equipment, but can’t use them out of the box.

    Dell is always calling us to sign their equipment acceptance form but I won’t do that until all the computers have been cleaned up and working correctly. I always tell them, if we didn’t have to spend so much time clean out the junk we didn’t ask for we could get you paid sooner. They don’t like it but until they change their policy if my users have to wait to get their PCs, they will have to wait to get paid.

  5. I just take it home put in a Ubuntu CD, Wipe Windows, install Ubuntu, and I have a computer thats faster, has no adware, no spyware, no virus, no defragmentation issues. no security holes you could drive a semi into, turn it around a drive it back out of. Best of all it is free! I’ve used Ubuntu for three years now, it keeps getting better all the time and I still don’t use the command line. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a friends Acer Laptop, with Vista, that has a trojan in it he wants removed. I wonder if he will notice it’s not Vista when he gets it back?

  6. I paid extra money for best buy to optimize my computer. They had all kinds of junk running. Don’t get me wrong some things I consider junk, may be useful to others, but dozens of useful things not needed causes problems. Thanks PC Pitstop for helping us sort it out!

  7. The main problem is that people don’t look much past the price tag. They see a $399 price tag for a machine that (nominaly) matches what a decent shop has to charge $600 for and decide that $399 must be the better deal. That’s O.K. though, because the call me a week later and I charge them to set it up- and I don’t have any warranty issues to deal with!

  8. From the beginning, just booting up my computer, no matter what brand or Microsoft system, I have had 70+ applications running most of whick I have no need for nor do I want them!

  9. Does any retailer….computer specialty shop….pre-clean any new computer and sell it with a guaranteed spy-ware free warranty? I only want what i pay for.

    That might be a good place to start.

    Writing strong letters doesn’t help.

    Maybe I really should convert to Macintosh. But aren’t there program incompatibilities? Like not being able to open attachments in e-mails? Like if I get an excel spreadsheet, power-point or word document from a business associate?

  10. Just to offer some hope, a short few months ago I spec purchased a Dell VOSTRO 400; at best, crapware was negligable.

  11. Hey, you leave the craplets alone!

    My lad makes a living from improving peoples brand new PCs by flushing them clean – usually with a clean install – which is a sad comment on the state of the PC market here in the UK.

    Oh, and his record, so far, is 3 virus checkers, 2 firewalls and 5 ISPs, from a well known PC barn.

  12. Hmmm.. this 74 year old lady has been uninstalling programs since the late 80’s.Took awhile to figure out how to do that on my Vista machine. Got rid of a lot of crappies.

  13. It is the same as cable TV was. They touted no commercials when you pay for service. But now you pay for service and still get the commericals. Dito with computers. Their cost have gone down while the profits go up.

    I don’t buy the statement that we need to pay more to keep the crapware off.

  14. It’s a pretty simple equation – either you pay full price for your PC or the manufacturer offsets some of that cost by selling space for craplets and advertising.

    Would you rather pay more for a clean PC?

    I would, but I wonder how many would?

    The manufacturers aren’t stupid, if they thought that you would pay more for a clean machine they would offer you one.

  15. I agree……Leave my computer in its “virginial state” The worst thing that can happen is some of the “crap” causes problems with real programs I choose to load.

  16. Craplets, I like that and I hope you don’t mind if I use it in the future. It’s an absolutely perfect description. I did wonder why my granddaughters computer booted so fast the first time when I had to unintall the usual crap plus some extra.

  17. Got 2 new HP laptops. Both crashed twice,Aol wanted to be my default mail. we have a network and tried to set it up nightmare #1 HP crashed after seting up a cox acct #3 crash. aol poped up again after all 4 hours went by and 7 msgs went to hp.It has been 3 months now and thanks to hp I can speak in arabic from the calls. A.P.S will be by to pick one up becayse they say the motherboard is bad.There goes all the data.(no I did not buy them on Friday the 13th ).

  18. This is one of the reasons I build my own system and don’t buy pre-built stuff. The one time I bought a laptop it was on eBay, and the hard drive came pre-erased. Even if I bought a brand new laptop, the first thing I would do is format and install the OS myself. It’s better that way and more fun for me anyways…

  19. It’s everywhere………..
    It’s everywhere………..
    Useless crap you receive with all most
    every purchase you make today.
    It’s Mac’s fault…….yeah that’s it!!

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