Gephardt: Speed Up Your Computer By Shedding Extra ‘Bloat’
Feb 4, 2021, 10:17 PM | Updated: 11:20 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – When you buy a brand-new computer, you want it to work like, well, a new computer. But as the KSL Investigators found, a lot of new machines come preloaded with a bunch of stuff that may slow it down.
We’ve all become a bit spoiled in the decades since the internet began trickling into our homes. Twenty years ago, it might have taken you five minutes to download one picture. Now, HD movies roll with the click of a sideways triangle. When it doesn’t work, it’s maddening, right?
It was certainly maddening to Nate Brown who contacted the KSL Investigators with a slow-running computer. It’s not because he was seeking IT help. It’s because he discovered the problem: programs installed on his machine without his knowledge.
“It interferes with your work when you have to work from home because of a pandemic,” he said.
After some cajoling, Brown figured out how to uninstall all those unwanted programs. Just like that — ZOOM!
“Once it uninstalled, my internet connection speed tripled,” Brown said.
It’s an insane difference – and something about which Brown feels strongly other consumers need to know.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” he said.
The KSL Investigators took Brown’s findings to Dan Young, owner of PC Laptops, who said it’s called bloatware, and “it’s super common.”
Young said people bring in computers all the time hoping PC Laptops engineers can make them work better and faster. Young added it’s often that bloatware to blame for a slow-running machine.
“It’s almost like driving around with your car trunk just full of stuff you don’t need,” Young said. “That’s gonna make your cargo slower and it’s also gonna ruin your fuel economy, right? So, with your computer, it uses more energy, and it’s gonna perform really slow compared to maybe what it could perform.”
Young said his company doesn’t load its machines with bloatware, although he has been approached about it. Young decided to keep the machines clean specifically for performance reasons.
So why do other companies do it?
“A lot of times they’ll sell computers for a very, you know, low price but how they make some money is if those companies pay them to install this,” Young said.
Trimming The Fat
To see for ourselves, the KSL Investigators enlisted the help of KSL IT guy Jared Houghton.
We handed him a Chromebook that’s about a year old and a PC that is brand new to see what he could find cooking on the devices.
On the Chromebook, which was purchased for about $150, Houghton found all sorts of applications in the background. If you want to make your computer go quicker, turn them off, he said. But be careful – if you turn off the wrong applications it can give your computer fits, like making the camera stop working.
If you’re unsure if something is safe to delete, find someone who knows about computers and ask them to take a look, Houghton said.
While we found lots of applications running, most of the stuff installed was pertinent to the machine working.
“There’s nothing really on this machine that sticks out as bloatware,” he said.
But the PC was a different story. The KSL Investigators bought it for less than $300. It was a brand-new machine, never connected to the internet after it came out of the box.
Like with the Chromebook, Houghton found it running lots of programs and much of it is necessary. The program taking up the most CPU usage was Microsoft’s One Drive, a program that allows for file sharing through the cloud.
It’s a program that consumers may never use, but as long as it’s running, it’s slowing down the machine.
The PC also came loaded with bloat. We found a handful of applications including a movie streaming app, a virus protection app, a shopping app and an app for an online travel agency before the machine had even been connected to the internet. Once connected, it began downloading more.
“It could slow down your productivity a considerable amount,” Houghton said. “Enough to where it takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes just for the machine to turn on, or maybe two to three minutes for an application to open when you need it to open right now. It can definitely be a pretty big inconvenience.”
The good news, Houghton said, is it’s really easy to purge. Go into ‘settings’ and find ‘applications,’ then simply uninstall the ones you do not want.
Bloatware is not illegal, as long as it isn’t spying on you or otherwise compromising your computer’s security. In 2017, one of the world’s largest computer manufacturers settled federal charges that the company harmed consumers by preloading software on some laptops that compromised security protections to deliver ads to consumers, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Some would like bloatware banned, including Brown.
“It is so wrong, and it’s been going on for far too long,” he said.
There are several petitions online suggesting bloatware should be made illegal.
Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Visit KSL Investigates dot com to submit your tip, so we can get working for you. You Ask. KSL Investigates.