Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bloatware, Crapware, Trialware, Malware, Spyware






First off you may be wondering about all these distinctions. These are all programs that end up on your your PC that have adverse affects on performance and security or are essentially worthless and just taking up valuable space on your hard drive. Though not technically viruses some of the categories such as Spyware and Malware are close cousins to the old destructive computer viruses.

Lets simplify the lingo with some quick definitions.

Bloatware: This is usually software installed on your new PC by the manufacturer. This would include software hotfix or update clients, help features, or even the latest news streams about products that might relate to your machine.

This software fills up your taskbar, increases startup and
shutdown times, increases background disk activity which promotes system lag, and greatly reduces battery life. Knowing about software updates is usually a good thing, but little software on your new system outside of some drivers needs its own update client. The Windows update manager handles the majority of the system patches, and usually includes driver updates.

Do you
really need Compaq's security center when Windows has one built in with the same features? Rid yourself of needless programs that duplicate existing existing features. In some cases I even refer to Windows as Bloatware itself! A default installation of windows s filled with programs and services that run in the background, sap system performance and are rarely if ever used or needed by the average end user. Disabling these features can give you a big performance gain, but most end users have no idea where to start.

Crapware: Not everyone agrees on what is and what isn’t Crapware because a piece of software that one person wants might be something that another person doesn’t. Some software will fall in the Grey area where people want certain features of the software but it causes problems and can cause system slowdown or instability.

Crapware might come in the form of a driver CD that installs
additional software with of the required driver. It might be software that came with a router, printer, or broadband service that the typical user unwittingly installs. Crapware is essentially something you did not ask for, don't need and is taking up your computer memory and hard drive space for no purpose other than to annoy you.

Often times you try to install something to play a simple video and it installs a massive music library manager or you install a piece of software and you get an extra toolbar added to your web browser even though you had never asked for it. These are all forms of Crapware, a close freind of Bloatware.

Trialware: At Computers for Charity we steer clear of installing Trialware on a clients computer or even recommending it. We are philosophically opposed to the idea of getting you used to software that will self destruct if you don't 'renew' your subscription.

Trialware often comes installed on a new PC. It is especially destru
ctive when a PC manufacturer installs a trial version of antivirus software on a PC. The customer becomes accustomed to the protection provided by XYZ antivirus and when the trial expires, feels obligated to renew to protect the PC!

I will name names here; Norton
and McCaffee are in bed with the PC manufacturers and it is a gratuitous orgy as money flows in both directions. In the meantime the end user who allows the antivirus software to expire will find themselves unprotected and infected.

The other issue we often see is that these AV products are loaded with bloat in and of themselves. They hog system resources and limit the end users freedom to compute, while not even providing the best level of protection.

There are free alternatives to this pay to play software that are in many cases more effective, require fewer system resources, and did I already mention FREE. In some cases these programs have limited functionality unless you buy the 'professional' version but don't despair. We would not be using them if the functionality they provided was insufficient. If you really like
a program you can always pay for the full version and I would recommend that (programmers have to eat too, even if they only eat code)!

So lets uninstall all the stuff that requires you to renew a license annually and get some long term software that
does the trick without asking for your credit card number or asking you to go through a complicated registration process.

Malware: Short for malicious software, consists of programming (code, scripts, active content, and other software) designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, gain unauthorized access to system resources, and other abusive behavior. The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code.

It can hijack your browser, redirect your search attempts, serve up nasty pop-up ads, track what web sites you visit, and generally screw things up. Malware programs are usually poorly-programmed and can cause your computer to become unbearably slow and unstable in
addition to all the other havoc they wreak.

Malware often comes bundled with other programs. These Malware programs usually pop-up ads, sending revenue from the ads to the program's authors. Others are installed from websites, pretending to be softw
are needed to view the website. Still others, most notably some of the CoolWebSearch variants, install themselves through holes in Internet Explorer like a virus would, requiring you to do nothing but visit the wrong web page to get infected. The vast majority, however, must be installed by the user. Unfortunately, getting infected with Malware is usually much easier than getting rid of it, and once you get Malware on your computer it tends to multiply.

Spyware: Another term for advertiser supported software (Adware). It is a way for shareware authors to make money from a product, other than by selling it to the users. This is sometimes in the form of banner ads or a special search toolbar installed on your browser. Advertising companies also install additional tracking software on your system, whitch is continuously using your Internet connection and reporting statistical data to the advertising company.

While according to the privacy policies of the companies, there will be no sensitive or identifying data collected f
rom your system and you shall remain anonymous, it still remains the fact, that you have a hidden server sitting on your PC that is sending information about you and your surfing habits so that you can be targeted with custom advertisements.

Spyware can also be more nefarious. It can include programs that allow a user to monitor all kinds of activity on a computer, ranging from keystroke capture, snapshots, email logging, and chat logging.
There are even some that allow a remote user to view and control your desktop! These tools are often designed for parents, businesses and similar environments, but can be easily abused if they are installed on your computer without your knowledge.

Conclusion: So, will your current antivirus program protect you form all these threats? The answer is NO. Antivirus software run in the background and stops known viruses according to its database or it will use heuristic methods to sniff out virus like characteristics in a program.

Many
AV products do have the ability to detect Malware. But that is not a guarantee that you are safe. In many cases while installing a program an end user will 'allow' the program to be installed. In these cases the antivirus program will make an exception and then leave the malware program alone to work its evil mojo!

As you may have experienced some programs fall into several of the above categories. In many cases we have to use three or more programs to scan for and eliminate all of the above issues. No one program can detect and remove all threats. Sometimes we even have to manually edit the system registry or even use system restore. It can be time consuming and a lot of work depending on the level of infection. Even though these programs are not technically viruses, many of them use virus like code to hook into your system and can cause you major headaches if not dealt with appropriately.

So If your computer is bloated, crapping out, has to be renewed or is spying on you, we can help. Free evaluation and extensive system tuneup, optimization and junk removal are a specialty for us. For more info go to: http://affordableconsultant.webs.com/.

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