Pull Those Software Weeds

September 8, 2009

Any plant that is in your yard or garden that you didn’t want there is called a weed. By the same token, any software that is on your computer that you don’t want or need, or didn’t install yourself is like a software weed. This unwanted and un-needed software takes up space on your hard drive. If that weed software starts up when you boot your computer, then it’s slowing your computer’s performance down as well.

Most junk software like this gets on your computer in one of two ways. Either it was on your computer when you bought it, or it was installed along with other software or an update to software.

Whenever you update some software or download and install new software, be very careful to read every screen and check all of the options because many times extra software is installed that you didn’t want and didn’t need. Sometimes changes are made to your computers settings you may not have intended. That extra software makes your computer boot up slower, makes it run slower, and takes up storage space as well.

For example, if you download or update Adobe Flash or Adobe Reader, if you don’t deselect the option for installing the Google Toolbar, it will install the Google Toolbar on your computer. If you download or update Java, you might get the Bing toolbar if you don’t deselect that option. Other add-on’s I have seen include the Ask Toolbar, MSN Toolbar, OpenOffice Installer, acrobat.com, Adobe Air, and many more. Thanks to this trend, I have seen people who had 5 toolbars in their Internet Explorer taking up half the screen and leaving little room to display web pages.

Instant messaging programs like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) or the Yahoo Instant Messenger also will install similar things you don’t want. Many of these will also change your default search provider and your home page if you don’t deselect that option.

Basically, any time you install or update software on your computer, take the time to read the options during the install. Deselect any options for installing toolbars, changing your default search provider, changing your home page, or any other options you don’t want.

If you’ve got software on your computer that you don’t want, you can uninstall it. But make sure you know what you are uninstalling. You wouldn’t want to accidentally uninstall something important. Here’s how to uninstall software from your computer:

Windows XP

1.       Click on Start.

2.       XP Professional only: Click on settings

3.       Click on Control Panel

4.       Double-click on Add/Remove programs.

5.       You will now see a list of software on your computer. You can click once on one and then click the remove or change button.

Windows Vista or Windows 7

1.       Click on the button formally known as start.

2.       Click on Control Panel.

3.       Click on “Uninstall Programs”

4.       You will now see a list of software installed on your computer. Click on one and then click the uninstall or change button at the top of the screen.

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