Over time and usually without your knowledge, programs and toolbars can become installed on your computer. Many of these are not necessary and can actually act as a detriment to your system. Let’s go over some of the things you can safely remove from your system so it runs better, longer.
First, set a system restore point by going to your control panel, clicking “System,” “System Protection,” “Create,” name the restore point, click “Create” and then click “Close.” If you would like to know more about system restore points, read my article published in the Tooele Transcript Bulletin on April 17, 2014 titled: “Managing your restore points in all Windows versions.” You can purchase this back issue (regular cost) directly from the Transcript Bulletin. Just come by the office located at 58 N. Main, during business hours.
After your system restore point is set, from the control panel, click “Programs and Features.” Here you will see a list of all the programs installed on your computer.
Browse through your programs and you will recognize some you use regularly. For example, if you have Microsoft Office installed, you will see it listed in alphabetical order. You should also see your antivirus software, Adobe software (except for Windows 8 and 8.1 because it is integrated with Windows), and others you intentionally installed.
There are programs though, that regularly sneak into this list. Google Chrome and Google toolbar, Ask tool bar, MyWebSearch tool bar, Bonjour, Weatherbug, Bing Desktop and Bing toolbar, McAfee Scan, RegClean Pro, just to name a few.
When it comes to almost all toolbars, these are created to serve a much wider purpose, other than a convenience for us. Simply put, they are there to collect our usage data, tracking websites we visit and the programs we use, and they may also report what type of computer we have and the components it uses, software on our computer and perhaps other data, and it is all sent back to the company that owns the toolbar.
This marketing data is used so that merchandisers can show you relevant content on the websites you visit. Have you ever searched or made a purchase online and then afterwards, begin to see related items appear in boxes on other websites you may visit? This is how they know what to show you, giving them a better chance you’ll be interested in purchasing their products or services.
I am not totally against this practice, but I do not believe they should collect our usage data without our knowledge and this is happening at a much higher rate than ever before. I recommend you remove all toolbars from your system unless you specifically find the toolbar necessary.
If you see Java or Adobe Shockwave installed, remove them unless you specifically know you need them. Both are identified as possible culprits allowing security breaches.
If you don’t play games, you should remove any that may be installed on your computer. This doesn’t include those that come with Windows, such as “Solitaire,” “Mahjong” and “FreeCell.”
When you are done, set another restore point.
For those of you who recently purchased a new computer running Windows 8.1, I’ll show you how to remove the games that come with it. For now, do not attempt to remove Adobe Flash or the included games from your system until you read next week’s article.
For 14 years, Scott Lindsay has helped tens of thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 250 articles about Microsoft software, the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at Scott@HollywoodScott.com.