The Crapware Con

29 Oct 2009
Crapware

Mike Jennings reveals how PC makers hobble your laptop with preinstalled software

You wouldn’t buy a new car that took five minutes to get out of first gear or a new hard disk that was already half-full of files – but plenty of people are unwittingly buying a laptop that’s been hobbled before it’s even left the factory.

That’s because crapware – the common term for “free” software that’s piled on to new PCs – can have a catastrophic effect on boot times, performance and hard disk space.

To find out which PC companies are the worst offenders, we put nine machines from the major manufacturers through a battery of tests designed to highlight where they’re being run ragged by unwanted software.

Our 2D benchmarks hunt down areas where performance is hampered; our boot-time tests discover how long you’ll have to wait for your PC to churn through unnecessary applications; and our memory footprint figures show how much RAM is being wasted to keep these programs ticking over.

We also test a trio of software packages that claim to be the antidote to this avalanche of unwanted software to see if they can help clean up your PC.

So, if you’ve ever suffered with a laptop blighted by crapware, want to know how to get rid of it, or need to know which firms won’t cripple your computer, read on for our definitive verdict.

(Illustrations by Lee Hasler)

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