What Is Bloatware and Why Is It on Your Device?

Learn about the pre-installed software on your computer and smartphone

frustrated woman using computer

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There are several types of problematic software that can cause our computers or mobile devices to run slowly or exhibit other unwanted behavior such as sudden freezes or crashes. Some like viruses and malware can be actually be dangerous, while other applications, sometimes called bloatware, might be considered safe but still precipitate performance degradation and storage space issues.

What is Bloatware?

Bloatware is the technical term for software that utilizes an excessive amount of disk space and system resources, enough so that its cons significantly outweigh any pros that it might offer. By monopolizing more than its fair share of memory and CPU cycles, these unwieldy apps can slow your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop to a crawl. Bloatware can also take up too much room, causing you to run out of precious space needed to store photos, videos, music and even other applications.

Where Does Bloatware Come From?

To make matters worse, often times we’re saddled with bloatware that we didn’t even choose to install in the first place. Whether you’re using a mobile device or a computer, all come with pre-installed software in addition to the operating system itself. These prepackaged apps can serve a number of purposes, ranging from programs that organize and play multimedia files to trial versions of well-known applications.

While many do serve legitimate objectives and function rather seamlessly, there are plenty that are not very useful and also cause unbearable performance problems. These pre-installed applications fall under the bloatware umbrella and in most cases should be uninstalled if possible.

Contrary to popular belief, not all bloatware originates from the device manufacturer’s OS image. In some cases you may have actually opted to install the source of the trouble yourself, either on its own or as part of another application. Either way, the sooner you get rid of it the better off you’ll be.

How Does Bloatware Cause Problems?

In the majority of instances bloatware is poorly designed and developed, built atop ill-structured code that unnecessarily hogs RAM that would otherwise be utilized to keep your system running smoothly. This unwanted software also tends to use an exorbitant amount of storage. 

If you notice that your computer, phone or tablet is taking too long to boot up or that its reaction times are exceedingly slow each time you tap or click on something, you may be dealing with bloatware. Unfortunately, people often assume that something is physically wrong with their device in these cases and sometimes feel forced to fork over their hard-earned money for a replacement.

In many of these instances, simply removing bloatware can increase performance exponentially and alleviate your frustration, avoiding the need for a new computer or mobile device.

How Do I Remove Bloatware?

Removing bloatware is a process similar to uninstalling other types of software, although it can get a little trickier when dealing with pre-installed apps such as those found on most out-of-the-box Android smartphones and tablets. Once you’ve identified the culprit applications, you can try to delete the app, or uninstall it. But in some cases, you can't get rid of the app without rooting a device, so you may just have to disable it using your device's application menu.