Junkbusters!

How to Clean Your New PC

New PCs come littered with demoware and ads you never asked for. Does all that stuff affect performance? You bet. Here's how to get rid of the crud--or avoid it in the first place.

You spend hard-earned money when you buy a new PC; why, then, should the vendor treat it like a billboard to sell you more stuff? Or, even more annoyingly, siphon off computing power to add punch and persistence to those marketing messages?

Unfortunately, most systems these days ship with a desktop littered with links, trialware, adware, and other software that you may find worthless. Adding insult to injury, major electronics retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City are cashing in on this trend by offering to remove the junk (a service they call PC optimization or setup)--for a price.

Some of the software can be useful, but much of it deserves the derogatory terms many people employ: junkware, shovelware, and plain old crap. And there tends to be a lot of it on new computers. For example, our examination and tests on 15 new desktop and laptop PCs turned up, on average, seven to eight nonstandard desktop icons; four to five non-Windows applets in the system tray; five or so Welcome Center icons that Windows didn't create; and additional lurkers in the Start menu and Windows Registry.

Getting rid of all this junk has a real benefit: Performance scores can improve by as much as 8 percent, which is pretty impressive considering the speed of baseline performance on a current PC. Read on for details, including advice on how to minimize the gunk when you shop--and, if you can't avoid it, see how to clean your new PC.

How to clean your new PC

As irritating as the idea may seem, one of the best ways to rid a new PC of junkware is to reinstall the operating system right away, using the vendor-supplied recovery discs or partition. Unfortunately, a reinstall won't work with every PC--the Fujitsu, HP, and Toshiba laptops we tested integrated the junkware into the OS install.

In June, Dell started shipping a third-party software removal utility with its Dimension and Inspiron PCs. But it's buried in Start/All Programs/Dell/Dell Software & Utilities/Product Documentation2, and it doesn't touch Dell-branded apps.

If an OS reinstall doesn't help, download PC Decrapifier. This dandy little utility automatically scans your PC for useless software and startup items, and then lets you choose from a list the ones you want to remove. PC Decrapifier makes some judgment calls, and it can't distinguish between trial and paid versions of some software. But anything that you might conceivably need is deselected by default, so it's safe even for neophytes.

Still got junk? Open Control Panel and select Programs and Features (in Windows Vista) or Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP). For most applications, you'll see an entry here for uninstalling the program and its accompanying files. In addition, suites such as Microsoft Office permit you to remove any components you don't need. Scan the folders in Start/All Programs for uninstall utilities that might not appear in the Control Panel list.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon L. Jacobi

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?