January 6th, 2016
The New Year is the time when I like to look at new beginnings, and renewal, with all things technology. I’ll be writing about a few topics which you should think about over the coming weeks, and this week it’s focussed on a problem which arises with new computers.
You may have been lucky enough to get a new PC or laptop for Christmas, freeing you up from that dusty old box which you were ready to exile to the landfill. With all that shiny new gear, you’ll be speeding ahead with everything from gaming to everyday office work!
But you might also be running straight into a trap.
All new off-the-shelf computers come with stuff known variously as trialware, junkware, crapware, and no doubt worse names. This is the Norton Antivirus 60 day trial, the ‘PC Backup’ program which nags you, and the ‘HP Driver Update’ program for those of us with that brand of laptop.
They want your money.
You’re supposed to sign up, according to the path of least resistance. They’re on your computer already, so you just need to put in your credit card details and never think about it again. These companies have already got over the biggest hurdle, which is getting themselves in front of you.
Don’t fall for it
There are so many reasons why you should make that little bit of effort. It’ll pay back in a big way!
- Know Your Computer: this is that phrase that I bang on about all the time. You should always make the decision about what goes on your hard drive, not some other company. Sure, your choices are often limited, but making that choice yourself is the important thing.
- There are free alternatives: these trials aren’t on your computer because they’ve been carefully chosen. They make money for the producers, and they make money for the laptop and PC makers too. Make an informed decision, perhaps using one of the many free antivirus programs that are out there.
- They may be a waste of money for you: would you have paid for that PC backup software if it wasn’t put in front of you? Perhaps you already have a decent computer backup technique. There’s no need to change or dump it just because someone puts something different in front of you.
Use these recommended titles
For the most common categories of free trials etc that come with your new PC or laptop, these are my recommended titles:
Check out my backup guide to see all your options, but my favourite two are SpiderOak cloud backup and EaseUS Todo Backup Free.
Driver Updates and Cleaners
I generally advise people to avoid these except to address specific problems. However, if your PC came with something from the manufacturer (like HP or Samsung) it’s probably safe to leave it in place and accept the updates it offers. When you notice that it hasn’t offered anything for a while, then it’s probably best to remove it altogether, as the company has probably stopped adding new things for your model, and the software will be checking unnecessarily. If you want to keep a cleaner and driver update after this time, try CCleaner for regular use, SlimDrivers for driver updates, or the excellent System Mechanic for an all-round toolkit.
Have you found any other junk on your PC, of software which is tempting you into a subscription? Let us know in the comments, and I’ll let you know whether they’re worth keeping!
The moral of the story is: know what goes on your PC, be the one who makes the decisions about it, and keep it running in ship shape form!