How to get rid of bloatware in Windows 7?
Option A: Reinstall Windows 7 without bloatware
Microsoft used to provide pure Windows installation media images with which Windows could be reinstalled without using the vendor-specific (e.g. Asus etc.) recovery partion on a PC or laptop.
Unfortunately Microsoft stopped providing these installation media images and currently I'm not aware of an easy, legal and secure way to get them.
Option B: Reinstall Windows 7 from recovery partition and clean up afterwards
Decrap is a tool that promises to uninstall crapware nearly automatically. When testing it with my Asus N61J laptop I discovered certain disadvantes of the tool:
- Seleting the software to uninstall was cumbersome because some applications were splitted up into multiple components.
- All settings were lost and execution didn't continue when the system had rebooted for any reason (e.g. Windows Update, Uninstaller requiring a restart)
- Uninstalling some software took a very long time (15 minutes).
Revo Uninstaller is a tool that shows all installed software in a convenient panel and in addition offers advanced features to scan and remove leftovers in the file system and registry. I definitely recommend using the Trial Version of Revo Uninstaller Pro because it has much more features. Here are the things I liked about Revo:
- The overview of installed software allowed me to easily identify which application I'd like to remove (i.e. through displaying application names and icons)
- Revo launched the uninstaller routines for me and despite unlike using Decrap I had to click through uninstall dialogues manually I got a much cleaner result in less time
- Scanning and removing leftovers was working like a charm
Why should I used those tools instead of uninstalling manually? Those tools have advanced features to also remove leftovers from the file system, the Windows Registry and so on. Uninstallers often do a sloppy job in this regard.
Recommended way to reinstall Windows 7 without bloatware
Since Windows 7 installation media images aren't available anymore I would recommend to use the excellent tool Revo Uninstaller Pro. For sure you'll have to spend 1 or 2 hours to manually click through the uninstaller dialogs but it's worth it.
I also recommend doing a Windows system image afterwards (built-in into Windows 7). Also check out the links below to get more detailed information about the available options.
- arstechnica: Blowing away bloatware: a guide to reinstalling Windows on a new PC
- How to geek: Windows installation media downloads
- sevenforums.com: How to Clean Reinstall Windows 7
- The Complete Guide to Avoiding (and Removing) Windows Crapware
- Decrap - a tool to uninstall all crapware / bloatware
- Revo Uninstaller Pro - a tool helping to uninstall software in a clean way