What Is “Bloatware,” and Why Is It Installed?

If you’ve bought a new phone or PC in recent years, you may have discovered it comes with a little more than you bargained for! Despite the fact the device is brand new and sealed, it will come with apps pre-installed onto it. These apps can be annoying at best and storage hogs at worst. So, what are they, and why are they installed on your device before you even boot it for the first time?

This software is known as “bloatware.” The original definition of bloatware is software that takes up an excessive amount of RAM or storage space. These days the term has evolved into software that gets installed without your permission. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of RAM or hard drive space to be deemed bloatware; the very fact it’s taking up room that you want for other applications is enough to deem it as bloatware.

It can be frustrating to unpack a new phone only to find that it comes with pre-installed apps that can’t be removed. Why are these apps even installed in the first place?

It’s not because the manufacturer thinks you’ll make use of these apps! They’re typically put in as part of an agreement with app companies. The app developer pays the manufacturer a set amount of money if they put their app on customers’ phones during the manufacturing process. The manufacturer gets a tidy sum from simply installing an app on phones, and the app developer makes a return on people who use the apps and decide to pay for premium features.

Typically, these apps are aimed at giving new users something to try. They may be games, which a new user can try before they work out how to install more. They may be productivity suites such as word processors and PDF viewers, in hopes that the user will enjoy them enough to pay without checking the app store for alternatives.

Depends! Some bloatware apps, such as ones installed with Windows 10, can usually be uninstalled the moment you receive the computer. Smartphones, however, can sometimes get a little nefarious with their bloatware. Manufacturers will often bake the apps into the stock ROM. This means the apps are part of the system software itself and that you can’t uninstall them without root access.

If you’re in this boat, don’t despair! If you can root your phone, doing so will give you elevated permissions over your phone. This includes the ability to delete system apps (including the bloatware). Root your phone, dive into the root directory, and clean out the bloatware to free up some space!

Bloatware is a very annoying problem, but some users don’t understand why there are apps on their phone that can’t be uninstalled. Now you know how bloatware works and how to get rid of it.

Is bloatware a major bane in your life? Or have you sworn to only use operating systems without bloatware issues? Let us know below.

Image Credit: Rooting my HTC Hero Android Phone