I got an interesting call from a friend the other day.
“I am buying a Dell,” he said. “Can you come over and get all the junk off of it so I can get some work done?”
I understood what he was saying. A recent caller to my computer firm had gone to a big-box retail store, purchased a new laptop and was strong-armed over to the geek counter where even more stuff was installed on her brand-new computer.
By the time she got home, her PC took more than 60 seconds to boot, thanks to all the junk that was loaded onto her brand-new PC.
There is a term for this stuff — “crapware” or “bloatware,” depending on who’s talking.
And I thought how sad it was she had to hire me to clean up a computer basically still in the box.
So I would like to offer some valuable advice to consumers out there: Here’s how to clean up a new (or any) computer.
First, there’s a utility with a bad name that does a great job removing junk from your computer. It’s called the “PCDeCrapifier” and it works quite well.
Get it at www.pcdecrapifier.com. Download it, save it and run it.
There is nothing to install.
(If Norton complains it is a virus, that is just Norton screaming you are about to delete it, much like the Wicked Witch protesting as she melts at the end of The Wizard of Oz.)
If you go to the “What it Removes” page of the company’s website, it will tell you what you are about to remove, step by step.
So pay attention on the off chance there is actually something you really want to keep.
Eliminate the stuff you will never use and be aggressive.
(You can always re-download AOL if you want dial-up again someday.)
I realize a Norton or McAfee or Best Buy hit man might visit me someday, but there is no reason to buy antivirus anymore, despite what is pre-installed on your computer or what you get talked into at the store.
(And I know it is hard to get out of the store sometimes without the hard sell.)
Get home and delete the trial versions and install Microsoft Security Essentials.
It’s free for the download from the Microsoft website and works fine.
The pro-profit antivirus companies, in reaction to Microsoft giving away their main product, are starting to bundle all kinds of other junk with their products, including identity-theft protection, all of which adds more bloatware to your PC and ties you to more renewals and stuff. Just say no.
Then install Malware Bytes (www.malwarebytes.org) and run that every month or so. That will keep your PC free of most Trojans.
Last, do not install any patches, programs, screen savers or other files sent to you by anyone, even someone you know.
Many of them are schemes to rob you of your passwords, your data, your banking information or pictures of your schnauzer.
No one reputable, even your aunt, will mail you an executable file.
James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer-repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News.