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How to Decrapify Your Computer

lion-mascot

Most Windows computers suffer from massive amounts of unnecessary files that live on Windows hard drives like zombies. Yet, with a few completely free tools anyone can clean up their hard drives freeing up gigabytes of space and speeding up their computers in the process.

I have written about this topic several posts already but my feeling is that in this case more is actually better.

What will you learn in this post?

I will show you:

  • how to uninstall any bloatware that came with your computer from the vendor or reseller
  • how to remove useless update files
  • how to remove leftover personal data
  • how to remove orphaned temp files and registry entries

Why Are There Unnecessary Files on Your Computer?

That is an excellent question. There are several ways these unnecessary files get onto the hard drive.

Installations

When you install a software, files get copied or unzipped into temporary folders first and are then installed from there.

Some software installer processes play nice and remove these temporary locations once they become unnecessary — i.e. milliseconds after all files are actually installed.

But some (well, it’s more than just some — it’s a lot) programs act like pigs leaving behind these orphaned files, folders, registry entries, etc.

Updates

Another common way for unnecessary files to appear on your hard drives are update processes.

Most software today is an ongoing creative effort. This means that the program’s developers are pushing out updated versions quite often.

These update packages or their unzipped contents tend to be left behind, too.

Uninstall Leftovers

When you uninstall a software program, it’s a common occurrence that certain files, folders, and registry entries are deliberately not removed by the uninstaller process.

These tend to be items containing personalized settings or outright personal data.

Bloatware

A lot of computer vendors or resellers tend to proactively install software on all computers they sell. We are talking about software with trial periods after which the user is nagged to buy a premium license or just simply ads that act like software.

This is a serious malpractice and one of the main reasons I buy desktop computers in parts and assemble them myself. Or, in case I am buying a laptop, I make sure that it comes with no operating system installed — no operating system means that it is not possible to install any programs.

Most of this kind of software is useless to the user and just takes up space. And what’s worse — slows down the very new computer’s performance.

Crapware or PUPs

Crapware or PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) are programs that are bundled into other programs and get installed on a computer simply because the user running the installation process is not vigilant enough.

Probably the most well-known PUP is McAfee Secure Scan Plus which comes bundled with Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC with pre-selected McAfee crapware

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC with pre-selected McAfee crapware

Adobe Flash Player with pre-selected McAfee crapware

Adobe Flash Player with pre-selected McAfee crapware

Again, this is a serious malpractice. If Adobe feels that users might want to use McAfee, then they should have the option to select the optional bundle themselves.

Forcing McAfee down the throats of inattentive users is probably the best way to make them hate any and all McAfee products with a passion.

Important Note

In all the above-mentioned cases I am talking about unnecessary items not malicious ones. This post is not about removing malware from your computer.

How to Remove All These Unnecessary Files and Programs

Removing Updates

To remove updates left behind by your Windows operating system, use the Disk Cleanup tool.

To remove useless update files for commonly used programs such as Java, Opera, or uTorrent, use the excellent Everything Search Engine.

You can look up any folders or files relevant to these programs by searching for keywords containing the program’s name.

Everything Java related on drive C:

Everything Java related on drive C:

Right there you can spot two Java Update folders. But some of the other folders are worth checking out, too, such as AppData\LocalLow folders.

You can run similar searches for whatever programs you suspect might be accumulating update files on your hard drive.

Removing Leftovers

Use GetFoldersize to determine which locations on your hard drive contain large amounts of data. Then decide for yourself whether these are remnants of an uninstalled program.

You might have uninstalled some programs in the past using Windows’ uninstaller process. This process leaves behind data because it doesn’t run a deep and thorough scan for potentially unwanted data being left behind.

Use Revo Uninstaller to uninstall any programs and to remove any leftover files.

Make sure that you select the Advanced mode for the uninstall process:

Revo Uninstaller — Advanced mode

Revo Uninstaller — Advanced mode

Removing Bloatware and Crapware

Depending on what your situation is, you can either reformat your hard drive and install the operating system and all your necessary software again. This might be an option for experienced tech-oriented users.

Others might simply open Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features and uninstall all the offending products one by one. Although, as I mentioned above it might be much more worth the effort to uninstall those products using Revo Uninstaller in Advanced mode.

Finishing Up

Once you are done removing all the unnecessary items using the above methods, it’s always a good idea to finish it all up with a thorough run of Ccleaner, BleachBit, and Revo Uninstaller.

I guarantee you that your efforts will pay off well. Not only will you free up considerable drive space but you will free up lots of resources for your system to perform much better and faster.

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Comments 2

  1. I’ve used a combo of Disk Cleanup, Revo Uninstaller, CCleaner, Privazer & Wisecare365. But, I hadn’t heard of BleachBit. Fortunately, it confirmed my setup was quite thorough & just found a couple dozen very minor misses. So thank you, it gets added to the procedure.

    1. Peter Post
      Author

      That seems like a very thorough package of programs to keep your Windows clean. I’d just like to emphasize that it’s best to use the portable version of each of these tools.

      Here are the links to the latest portable versions:
      http://www.revouninstaller.com/download-free-portable.php
      https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download/portable
      https://privazer.com/PrivaZer.exe
      http://downloads.wisecleaner.com/soft/WiseCare365.zip
      https://www.bleachbit.org/download/file/t?file=BleachBit-1.12-portable.zip

      Disk Cleanup is a built-in Windows program.

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