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Last post Author Topic: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"  (Read 7009 times)

barney

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Yeah, I know it's dumb.  But, just maybe ...

Finally got my new i7 box, a Dell Vostro 3700 laptop, and I'd really like to find a way to prevent loading of the [obligatory?] included crapware, rather than come back and remove it after the box completes initiating.  Searches have turned up the question, but no viable answers to speak of.  Did find a few that were technically impossible, a couple that seemed improbable, but none that could be effectively implemented, at least by me.

One of the improbable ones involved booting from a Live CD, deleting the offensive bits, then booting the machine naturally.  That requires a more intimate knowledge than I'm ever likely to have of both the OS and the appropriate install programs.  (For one thing, this box has a fingerprint reader, the software for which I'm unlikely to recognize even after installation, much less prior to install  :o.)  Yeah, with enough research I could probably identify some of the stuff I know is there, but ...  :o.

OK, enough about my inadequacies ... anyone know of a way to pre-clean a new box prior to initialization?

4wd

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 09:02:31 PM »
When you say initiating, does that mean:
(a) the OS, (with crapware), has already been installed and it just finalises installation on first boot, or
(b) the OS has already been installed but it asks for discs to install the crapware on its initial boot, or
(c) that the HDD is blank and you want to prevent it being loaded from the recovery disc.

From what I've read online, (assuming Win7 here), there is no difference between install discs of HP, Pro or Ultimate, (barring the esoteric versions and obvious x86/x64 differences), whether OEM or not - the CD key is what determines which version will be installed and whether it's OEM or not.  The main difference between OEM and retail is in the licensing agreement.

In theory you could download, (or borrow), a full install DVD of the version that's already on the laptop, (or a specific x86/x64 Win7 DVD of any version: HP, Pro or Ultimate and modify it), install and then enter your OEM key - this should be done before the current version goes online and activates itself.  The key will then be tied to the hardware, which in the case of an OEM license means specifically that motherboard - if it fries you need to buy a new OS also.

This will give you a bog standard Win7 install with no crapware other than what MS install by default.

EDIT: Forgot, you'll also need to download drivers for the specific hardware of your machine afterwards, (eg. thumbprint reader, etc), so you should check Dell's website to see if they are available for download first.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 09:17:17 PM by 4wd »

MilesAhead

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 09:14:31 PM »
The only way I know to avoid doing it yourself, assuming the machine has Windows pre-installed, is to pay a technician.  One approach is to create a custom install DVD such as this:

http://www.intowindo...vlite-for-windows-7/

The other would be to get the programs on the HD exactly as specified, then create a backup image on a set of DVDs or a USB external drive.  If your system gets hosed, or you want to return to this pristine state, restore completely from the image, or install clean from the DVD alluded to above.

The trouble with doing this stuff yourself is the first time is always the hardest. You make all the mistakes, figure out the easy way to do it, then it's done and you don't do it again for years, so you forget everything you learned. :)

Less frustration but more expensive to get someone to do it for you, provided you can find competent people who won't just hodge podge it together to get your money.

edit: btw, for all things bootable, I haven't found a better resource than this site:

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/


« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 09:16:48 PM by MilesAhead »

Eóin

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 09:18:53 PM »
I'd recommend doing as 4wd suggests. I'd try and use the Dell install disk first though, it probably has a clean Win7 on it, the OEM added stuff get install separate I think. Remember you can do as many installs as you want, you only need activate when you're happy you've got the install you're looking for.

All in all, if you're not afraid of a bit of playing around you'll end up with a perfectly clean install. However the road there may be bumpy if you're not very comfortable with doing OS installs.

barney

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 10:51:36 PM »
@4wd
selection (a).  It's already on the box's hard drive, and the first time I power it up, it will be installed, whether I will it or no.
Yes, Win7, 64-bit.
Your edit kinda defines the problem ... I don't know what drivers will be necessary, and the Dell site is less than forthcoming with specifics that satisfy me.

@MilesAhead
Unfortunately, in my current location, I'm more know ledgable than the available 3rd party techs  :huh:.  I will check http://www.boot-land.net/forums/.

@Eoin (I still can't get the o right)
There is no install disk - it all happens the first time I power up the box.
And, while I am comfortable with doing clean OS installs, this ain't one <grin />.

@general
This particular box came with six (6)  CDs (assumption that they are only CDs on my part), all of which are marked, "Already installed on your computer."
That's the part that bugs me, and I'd really like to obviate most of those installations.
Yeah, I realize that's unlikely w/o a month or two of research, but I don't have that kind of time to get the box up - I need its power for an upcoming project.

Apparently, due to time constraints, I'll have to accept the whole install, then, as time allows, get rid of all the junk that I won't use or don't want.  I was just hoping against hope that someone had an easy - I like easy - answer to a problem that many people don't seem to have.

Note:  I said I'm comfortable with clean installs, but maybe not so comfortable with installing drivers that I don' know I need until something fails  :o.

I do appreciate the quick responses, folk, and all your suggestions are viable, given enough time to implement them - time is my enemy at this point, but this is all on file and will be consulted in future initiations.  Thank you.

MilesAhead

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 11:03:14 PM »
The most fool proof method is the image backup.  Unless you have an exotic disk controller, any of the major image backup programs, like Macrium Reflect, should work.  The advantage is you can do it incrementally.  As you strip off more and more of the flotsam, just make another image. It's a good idea to have a backup that's not hooked to the machine, in case you get hit with a real nasty malware. I do backups every few days, and periodically dig out an external USB to do a backup and return it to storage.

Especially if your backup image is lean, restoring at USB 2.0 speeds should only take about an hour.  To get back to your pristine condition, boot the image backup boot CD, connect your USB drive and start the restore.  Make a sandwich.  Much easier than configuring custom install scripts.  That unattended install is great if you have a PC farm.. but for one machine it can drive you nuts with the trial and error and dependency track down involved.

barney

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 11:08:10 PM »
Yeah, that trackdown thing is the one that's driving me nuts.  However, your suggestion as to ongoing backups definitely has merit.

4wd

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 11:47:53 PM »
If you can find a DVD with Win7 Pro x64, then I'd say just boot from it, do a complete install to the HDD, (wiping what was there, ie. Dell's auto-install), and enter your CD key off the sticker.

That should work perfectly.

@MilesAhead: While that link about vlite was interesting, a better place for information on using vlite on Win7 is at MSFN.
I also found the link in the last comment more interesting RT7Lite - now if only their download links worked.

There's also 7Customizer at MSFN.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 12:00:18 AM by 4wd »

J-Mac

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2010, 11:49:48 PM »
You can buy a custom-built rig and specify exactly what you want installed. My last box was built by Falcon Northwest and had nothing pre-installed on it that I didn't request from them.

Thanks!

Jim

tomos

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 04:09:27 AM »

Is it true that if you buy a Dell business machine that it doesn't come loaded with crapware?
Tom

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 05:38:48 AM »
a Dell business machine that it doesn't come loaded with crapware?
Yes, but it depends on your definition of "CrapWare"... :)

The business machines allow you to configure a machine without any AV software (McAfee & Norton being the biggest crapware offenders). The Dell support software crap is still there but it's not that hard to disable/remove - Other than that it's just Windows.

I'm replacing a network today, and have a batch of Precision T1500s to unbox. I'll make a note of what (if anything) is on them as they're supposed to have been delivered "clean".

Bamse

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 08:32:47 AM »
If you chose to remove afterwards then find a Dell bloatware guide. Must be there. I found one for my Asus on this forum http://forum.notebookreview.com/ I think I could have done it on my own but probably not without mistakes. Like some hotkey thingy required to change mode between 2 graphics cards. Part of a fancy "control deck" I need regardless I don't like control deck! Stuff you don't really understand just by racing through add/remove list or doing fast google searches. Find a Dell fanboy forum, they know details if you chose to fight pre-installation.

PC-Decrapifier still alive http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/

app103

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 09:12:15 AM »
Is it true that if you buy a Dell business machine that it doesn't come loaded with crapware?

It's a Vostro, so I am assuming it's a business machine just like my Vostro 410 desktop, which didn't come preloaded with any crapware (except some Google Desktop crap which was easy enough to uninstall). I never checked any of the options for them to pre-install any of the crap they offered, when I ordered the PC, so no antivirus, no Adobe Reader, and none of the other stuff.

MilesAhead

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 02:44:36 PM »
...

@MilesAhead: While that link about vlite was interesting, a better place for information on using vlite on Win7 is at MSFN.
I also found the link in the last comment more interesting RT7Lite - now if only their download links worked.

There's also 7Customizer at MSFN.

Thanks for the links.  I'll check 'em out. :)

nite_monkey

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2010, 03:06:11 PM »
Being that you have a dell laptop, getting a clean os is fairly easy. I bought a vostro 1520 not too long ago, and Dell gives you an OS reinstall disk, a driver disk, and any disks for software pre-installed (for me it was a cd burning software).

Just take the reinstall disc, and put it in the machine, and reinstall windows with that disc. You will have a clean OS. Afterwards, stick in your driver disc, and it will ask you if you want to run a special program that will read your system to find out all the hardware on it, and then it will give you a list of the drivers for your laptop with a check mark next to the items that it found on your system.

Once you are done installing the drivers, you can enjoy your new Dell computer without all the crapware. :Thmbsup:
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f0dder

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2010, 03:06:32 PM »
If you can find a DVD with Win7 Pro x64, then I'd say just boot from it, do a complete install to the HDD, (wiping what was there, ie. Dell's auto-install), and enter your CD key off the sticker.
Won't necessarily work - at least not if you haven't gotten a clean OEM DVD. I tried doing this with XP, and found out that OEM keys, at least then, were tied to OEM install discs (apart from just BIOS strings, meaning they won't work for non-vendor machines either).
- carpe noctem

barney

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2010, 04:47:24 PM »
Quote
Once you are done installing the drivers, you can enjoy your new Dell computer without all the crapware.
nite_monkey, I like that resolution.  This beast came with six (6) discs, one (1) a DVD, four (4) CDs, and one (1) indeterminate from the print on the disk.  Each of these six (6) is marked that it is already installed, implying that the discs are there only for emergency reinstalls.  However, I've run into similar situations in the past, where the reinstall CDs also contained the junk I didn't want to reinstall.  I don't want Trend Micro - I think that's the current Dell offering - on a trial basis, nor Works, nor Word, nor any other trial software.  Just want the OS and any drivers necessitated by the hardware.

For instance, I'll have to have the fingerprint software/drivers, since this box has a fingerprint scanner.  (I wonder whether that's any good, but prolly a topic for a different thread - which may already exist here.)

Anyhoo, your process description has emboldened me with the temerity to hit the power switch and turn this beast on ;D.  Dear heart, thank you very much for that response  :-*.

Edited for typos - why cannot I ever avoid those, even with spell-check? - not content.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 04:51:38 PM by barney »

app103

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2010, 04:54:52 PM »
I don't want Trend Micro - I think that's the current Dell offering - on a trial basis, nor Works, nor Word, nor any other trial software.

It's a Vostro, it shouldn't have any of that unless you asked for it when you ordered it. My Vostro desktop came with a bunch of disks too. XP setup, Vista setup, XP drivers for the stuff in the box, Vista drivers for the stuff in the box, and drivers for the monitor.

And it didn't even have the Google Desktop stuff that I mentioned before, on any of those disks, nor the default Vostro wallpaper.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2010, 05:08:37 PM »
If you can find a DVD with Win7 Pro x64, then I'd say just boot from it, do a complete install to the HDD, (wiping what was there, ie. Dell's auto-install), and enter your CD key off the sticker.

That should work perfectly.

I don't know if things have changed in Windows 7 but certainly in Windows XP and Windows Vista this did not work. The stickers on the box are only to prove you have alicense - the actual keys don't work. They used to in earlier XP days but MS moved away from that because people used to wander around computer shops noting down the keys on the computers out on the shelf!

A better way to do it is to do the crap loaded install and then use a utility to backup the OEM activation status (which is more complex than on a non-OEM install) - then install from a clean windows disk and restore the activation.

app103

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2010, 05:14:49 PM »
OK, one more time...

If your Vostro has crapware preinstalled (besides Google Desktop) it's because you ordered the crapware and asked for it to be preinstalled. This is not a home consumer machine. With home consumer machines, you don't get a choice...it comes with crapware.

This is a Vostro, a business machine and when you order it, you have to check boxes for every crapware item you want preinstalled. If you don't check any of the boxes, you don't get the crapware.

Did you ask for any crapware when you bought it?

barney

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2010, 05:17:52 PM »
The box initialization just completed.  There's actually a lot less junk that I expected, but there is some.

MS Office 2010 is installed, but it'll be a trial-ware install, since I didn't specifically order it.  A bunch of MS Live junk is there, as well, of which I might use only the Writer blog posting app.  There's also some CD/DVD authoring software that installed by default.  Oh, yeah, the box asked by to authorize a Trend Micro install - don't know if just AV or a full suite - and when I declined, it stated that it would be uninstalled.

No Google stuff that I can see on the menu.  I really hope the discs don't have the <shudder /> Vostro wallpaper - what I got was urgly with a capital urgh.  First thing I did was lose that  ;D.

barney

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2010, 08:40:23 PM »
Quote
If you don't check any of the boxes, you don't get the crapware.
That is patently untrue according to my definitions.  Anything other than the OS and necessary hardware drivers qualifies as trash.  I specifically said no to any security software, but it was installed anyway.  Several MS products were installed, products which were not mentioned during the order process, so there was no option to select or not select.

I was pleasantly surprised at the minimal amount of non-OS, non-hardware-related software installed, but it was installed w/o concern for my preferences.  Kinda points to why IT folk create their own disk image for new boxes, ya know?

The real concern here is not the installation of unrequested software, but the detritus remaining after a supposed uninstall.  I've had critical applications crash because of some software installation overwriting support files that were not replaced during the uninstall.  In a corporate environment, that can be near-fatal at the very least.  In a home environment, or in a small business environment, it really can be fatal insofar as a person's reliance upon a particular piece of software.

No offense intended, app103, but your premise simply does not hold up in the face of existing evidence.

OK, it's kinda, sorta understood that no hardware vendor is going to distribute schtuff that would crater their systems, but what they distribute could very well incapacitate an application upon which someone relies - or installation of such an application could crater the system.  In either case, they'd not be able to use - real life example - software that was previously relied upon for significant health issues.  (Not my health problem, but a consulting call not too long ago.)

The more junk that gets installed, the greater the possibility of crippled functionality in other areas even after the junk is supposedly removed.


4wd

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2010, 09:04:08 PM »
If you can find a DVD with Win7 Pro x64, then I'd say just boot from it, do a complete install to the HDD, (wiping what was there, ie. Dell's auto-install), and enter your CD key off the sticker.
Won't necessarily work - at least not if you haven't gotten a clean OEM DVD. I tried doing this with XP, and found out that OEM keys, at least then, were tied to OEM install discs (apart from just BIOS strings, meaning they won't work for non-vendor machines either).

That's why I put 'assuming Win7' in my original post ;)  I read somewhere, (but can't remember - hey, it was more than 60 minutes ago!), that Microsoft no longer used the oembios stuff they used in XP for Win7.

Also, since barney has a complete set of recovery CDs for the Dell - nothing is lost except a little time.  IMHO, the benefit of having a really 'clean' system outweighs the effort of trying to strip it all out of a pre-installed system and the little time lost.

A little bit more reading around turns up: Can I use OEM Windows 7 HP product key to install 64-bit OS off of retail disc?
NOTE: Original post in that thread refers to going from x86 to x64 - in that case I would expect you to have to reactivate via phone.  But reinstalling essentially the same OS you're licensed for should be easier.

So, technically possible providing you edit the ei.cfg which links in my first post refer too and is also described in the second post in the thread.

Addendum: Here's the \sources\ei.cfg from my W7HP x64 Family Pack DVD:

[EditionID]
HomePremium
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Changing the Retail to OEM should turn it into an OEM version which on first activation locks it to my current hardware - as per OEM licensing.

EDIT: My grammar is suffering - too many American TV shows methinks :)
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 09:25:24 PM by 4wd »

f0dder

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2010, 07:19:18 AM »
NOTE: Original post in that thread refers to going from x86 to x64 - in that case I would expect you to have to reactivate via phone.  But reinstalling essentially the same OS you're licensed for should be easier.
Don't be too sure of that - for regular keys, x86 and x64 are interchangeable. My laptop runs win7-x64 with a win7-x86 key :)
- carpe noctem

4wd

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Re: Stupid question time, "Any way to *prevent* crapware loading on new box?"
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2010, 10:40:00 PM »
Don't be too sure of that - for regular keys, x86 and x64 are interchangeable. My laptop runs win7-x64 with a win7-x86 key :)

Even more reason to just try it. :)