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If you’ve purchased a computer from a manufacturer then you’ll likely find it’s weighed down with unnecessary junk like trial software and unsightly customizations. You shouldn’t have to put up with this.
If you’re looking to restore your system, think twice before restoring to the factory settings. You might speed up your system by wiping the slate, but it’s not as clean as it could be. That’ll only come from installing completely fresh from the operating system.
Be sure to leave us a comment afterwards to let us know if you’ve ever been frustrated with manufacturer bloatware and installed fresh to overcome it.
The Problem with Factory Settings
The first time you booted up your new pre-built computer, you entered a system with factory settings. Although you’re running Windows, the installation isn’t exactly the same as if only the operating system was installed.
This is because most manufacturers will install or customize the system in a particular way. Sometimes this is done to make it more convenient for the user, like having all relevant drivers installed, but sometimes it’s done more for the benefit of the manufacturer than the consumer. Little things like the wallpaper being a branded image can occur, but often you’ll also find that some less useful programs have been pre-installed.
These programs could be software trials (commonly for things like antivirus) or manufacturer suites that apparently help get the best out of your system. The thing is, you probably didn’t ask for these things to be on your computer and it feels a bit invasive to have it all pushed on you. At best these programs are bloatware that take up valueable hard drive space, but they could also be a security risk.
We’ve reported previously about how to know if your new PC is secure. One example of a security issue was with Lenovo laptops, found to have the Superfish malware preinstalled. The standard Windows uninstaller didn’t help in getting rid of it and the common user would have been left none the wiser. It’s unacceptable for something like that to happen, especially when you’ve laid down a hefty sum for a new system, and highlights an extreme case where factory settings are dangerous.
Remove the Bloatware
One tactic you could use, if you don’t want to start from a fresh system install, is to remove the bloatware that comes with your system. Bear in mind this won’t rectify any security vulnerability, like the Superfish incident mentioned above, but it’s a simple way to get rid of the obvious junk.
For this you can just use the in-built Windows uninstaller or take it one step further by using a program like Should I remove It (our Should I Remove It review) in order to better establish what needs wiping from your system. Remember, don’t remove drivers or other system critical utilities because you could find your system unstable afterwards.
For more information on removing that excess junk, be sure to check out our guide on how to get rid of bloatware.
Install Your System from Scratch
The best way to ensure you’ve got the cleanest system possible is not to do a factory reset, but rather wipe your drive and install the operating system from scratch. Doing a factory reset will roll everything back to how the system was when you first got it, including removing all the programs and data you added, but as we’ve established, a factory reset will also restore the bloatware the system came with originally.
It’s not too tricky to do a fresh system install, but first you need to understand the consequences of it. Although it may sound obvious to some, this process will wipe all of your data, unless you stored them on a separate drive or partition from your operating system. Your documents, music, installed programs, and more will be gone, unless you create a backup of them. You can use Windows Easy Transfer (our moving data guide) for some of that data or you can use a dedicated backup program.
To begin your fresh system install you’ll need a copy of the operating system on bootable media (like a CD or USB drive) and your product key. If you’ve got a copy of the operating system on disc from Microsoft, that’s excellent. If not, you’ll need to create the bootable media yourself by using an ISO file. Handily, we have an excellent and in-depth guide on how to make bootable media using ISO.
You’ll then need to run this bootable media, which can be done just by putting the disc or USB drive in and rebooting. If this doesn’t work automatically, reboot and look out for which key you need to press to access your BIOS; once there, change the boot order to have the disc/USB be first.
The install wizard will guide you through the necessary steps, but make sure you select to wipe the hard drive and completely install from scratch. Once done, you’ll then be sent to your new desktop, after which you should head to Windows Update and get all of the important updates (including your drivers). When that’s all good, you can go ahead and restore the data you backed up earlier.
Signature Edition Computers
If you’re looking to buy a new computer that doesn’t come with all the manufacturer excess then, short of building your own, you might want to consider checking out the Signature Edition Computers from the Microsoft Store. There are no promotional pre-loads, no bloatware – just the operating system.
These are computers that come in a whole range of configurations from different manufacturers. Don’t pay much attention to the marketing babble about them being the “fastest around”. They’re only quick because solely the operating system is installed, not due to any additional bonuses or hardware differences.
However, if you’re comfortable with installing fresh yourself, you might find that it’s a better deal to buy a standard system and then just do a fresh install on that. Be sure to compare prices of standard against Signature Edition before making a purchase.
Keep it Fresh
Now you know: always keep your system fresh by installing from the operating system, not reverting back to factory settings. You don’t need trial software, pointless manufacturer suites and unsightly customizations weighing down your brand new system. And should you ever find that you need a tool offered by the manufacturer, for example to use a special hardware key, know that you can download it from their website.
Note that your recovery partition still contains a factory settings setup, so should you refresh or reset your computer, the bloatware will be back. Going back to a restore point, however, is safe as it will not draw on your recovery partition. To be save, you can wipe the original recovery partition and restore it using your freshly installed system.
Have you ever suffered at the hands of a manufacturer install? Did you wipe it all and start afresh with the operating system?
Image Credits: Black laptop via Shutterstock