Two Windows 10 PCs crossed my path recently. Both were laptops and were fairly new. They were from different manufacturers, but neither worked properly and the problem was assumed to be Windows 10.
In one case the person had bought the computer brand new a couple of months ago to replace an ageing Windows 7 computer. The new Windows 10 laptop was soon abandoned and not used because it was just too slow to be useful.
The owner went back to the old Windows 7 laptop because it was faster and better than the new Windows 10 one, despite being much older technology.
In the other case, the owner had almost given up trying to use their brand new high specification laptop. There was an inexplicable five minute delay whenever you tried to do anything. Click Explorer and five minutes later the window would open. Click Chrome and five minutes later the browser window would appear.
What usually happened was that after clicking something and nothing happening, it would be clicked again, and again. Five minutes later a dozen windows would open.
In addition to this, open Settings and the window would appear, only to disappear after two seconds. The computer was unusable. It would boot to the desktop, eventually, but you could not run anything because it was so sluggish and unresponsive, plus the five minute wait after clicking anything before something would happen.
I looked at both computers and the problem in both cases was not Windows 10. It was junkware.
Junkware, sometimes called crapware or bloatware, is the extra software that you find on computers when you buy them. There are applications, toolbars, utilities and other software that is not part of Windows and which you probably don’t need.
It had crippled one computer and it was so bad it was unusable and it had caused another person to abandon the new computer they had bought and go back to their old one. There were two disappointed Windows 10 users.
To experts this is a minor irritation and the problem is easily solved, but to less experienced users it is a major problem that can prevent them from using their computer. Even if they suspect that it might be something to do with the software on the computer, they are afraid to remove anything in case it is something important.
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Windows 10 got the blame in these cases and I was asked to help speed up the computer and solve the serious problems they had.
All I did was to remove the junkware leaving a cleaner Windows 10 installation, which then ran smoothly and quickly. The computers were transformed. The problem wasn’t Windows 10 after all. Here’s what I did to fix those Windows 10 PCs.
1 Scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
Go to the Malwarebytes website and download and install a copy of Anti-Malware. During the installation there is a choice between a free trial of the full program or the free version. The free version is all you need.
Scan the computer with Anti-Malware and if it detects anything, remove it. It’s the default action and there is just one button to click.
This software is useful because in my experience it tends to be better at detecting and removing PUPs. Potentially Unwanted Programs, PUPs, are not viruses. Neither are they useful to most people. They exist in a grey area between malware and useful program.
Because they aren’t, strictly speaking, viruses or malware, some antivirus programs do not look for them or report them. A scan of the computer can come back clean. Malwarebytes tends to flag them and offer to remove them.
PUPs can be irritating and they can affect the performance of the computer, so it is better to remove them.
2 Uninstall with IObit Uninstaller
The next task is to remove the junkware from the computer. Now you could use Programs and Features in the Control Panel, but this just runs the uninstaller that comes with applications, and these are notoriously bad. They fail to remove everything and they leave behind program files, data files, registry settings and so on.
An uninstaller utility scans the system after an uninstaller has done its job. It finds everything that the regular uninstaller missed and deletes it.
There are several good uninstallers, but IObit Uninstaller is my favourite. Firstly, it is free and I like free stuff. Secondly, you can download a portable version from portableapps.com. I like portable software.
Portable software does not need installing. It is either supplied as a zip that you unzip yourself, or it is supplied as an executable file that a self-extracting zip. IObit Uninstaller is extracted to a folder in Downloads. You open the folder and double click the program to run it.
Using IObit uninstaller, you can see a list of installed software and then set about uninstalling the junkware. I can’t tell you what to remove and what not to because there is so much junkware and so many useful programs that the list would be huge.
It is difficult to offer advice and all I can suggest is to Google the program names. Sometimes you will find sites that tell you flat out that it is junk, malware or a PUP. This is not always the case, but most of the time you should be able to find a description of what the program is or what it is for. This is usually enough.
If a program is not part of Windows and is not a driver for the hardware, like a trackpad driver, graphics driver, and so on, then it can usually be removed.
Games, applications to access eBay or Amazon, security software and so on, can all be removed. Security software is necessary of course, but the free trial that was bundled with the computer might not be the best for you. It could be a trial of a top-of-the-range package that contains far more security than you need. Too much can sometimes get in the way.
It is better to choose security software that suits you. In my case I go for a minimal lightweight security program with just the basic features. That’s because I’m a geek and know what I’m doing and how to avoid many internet threats. It would not suit everyone though. Choose your own security software and avoid whatever is bundled with the computer.
After removing all the junkware and a couple of minor PUPs, checking for Windows Updates, the two Windows 10 computers were fine. It is a shame that so many PCs are supplied in such a shocking state.