Bundleware: Definition, Prevention, Removal Guide

What does Bundleware mean? Bundleware got its name from people ‘bundling’ different programs into one single installation program. The one installation for bundleware  installs the main program that you want along with some other programs that you do not want. The article looks at what is bundleware, if they are useful and how to prevent and get rid of programs installed by bundleware on your Windows computer.

There are typically two ways such crapware gets delivered. First it could be bundled by the developer themselves or secondly, download sites may require you to download their wrappers or download managers, which would then foist PUPs.

What does Bundleware mean


Often, when you install a free software, you may see that the installation package has also installed some other program. While in some cases, these might be support software required for the main program to run, in most cases, they are trialware or other types of potentially unwanted programs, that you never asked for. It becomes difficult figuring out what all was installed – but removing them is often easy, once you know the name of the unwanted program and whether or not the added programs are a support requirement for the main program to function.

For example, a program installs VC++ Distribution Package or Microsoft .NET may be legit installations as they are support programs. These are not a problem as they are required for the main program to run. But in most other cases, in the installation packages, there are programs that you do not want as they create problems. For example, a bundleware for installing some VPN might install Yahoo toolbar and change your home programs – or you may have an Adobe installation installing a McAfee software.

The latter type of bundleware are a menace as they install unwanted programs on to your computer. These unwanted programs are mostly toolbars and other software that interfere with your computing experience. Sometimes, you have to remove the entire program before being able to use the computer properly.

Bundleware removal

How to get rid of unwanted programs installed by Bundleware?First and foremost, stay alert during installation, and opt out of any third-party software offers, which the main software may try to install.

Taking Precautions To Prevent Unwanted Programs in Bundleware

The best way while dealing with bundleware is to take precautions so that you do not install unwanted programs or toolbars etc. Some bundleware do not ask you what all to install, in which case, you have to isolate them using search and then remove them using the method detailed in above section. Most of the bundleware, however, provide installation screens that – when read properly – tells you what the relevant buttons such as “ACCEPT”, “DECLINE”, etc. would do.

To prevent installing programs that you don’t want, go through each screen of installation carefully. Select custom install against “express” or “recommended” install as you will be in a better position to identify and DECLINE or DISSELECT unwanted programs to install only what you want.

These days very few ‘freeware’ are really freeware! Our TWC freeware is genuinely offered as free. There are several others too. But some freeware developers bundle third-party offers which could be potentially unwanted software, with a view to making some money. These are not freeware – but bundleware as they push crapware on to your Windows computer. So whenever you install free software or games, be very careful during installation. Read and click on Next. Uncheck boxes, if you need to opt out of third-party offers. If no such options are offered – exit the installation. Better not to install such software.

Unchecky is a free tool that can prevent unnecessary third-party programs and bundleware from being installed on your computer. Whenever you install a new program, this tool will become proactive and spontaneous, and deselect the irrelevant offers, which will not only save you a lot of mouse clicks, but also keeps your system away from the unwanted bundled software and other crapware.

Control Panel

If the bundled software still gets on to your system, then the best method is to use Programs and Features in the Control Panel. In the Program and Features dialog, click on Data column so that it is organized by the date of installations. Once you have the list arranged date wise, you know what all was installed on the particular day when you installed something you wanted. If you see other programs on the same date, they may be potential candidate for removal.

But you have to be careful, as sometimes, they are simply programs required to run the main program that you installed. If not sure, you can run a search using the program name that you think is an unwanted program. There are many websites on the Internet that tell you about the program and whether it will be a problem if you remove it. Based on search results, you can decide whether or not to remove the programs from the computer.

Using Task Manager to Get Rid of Programs Installed By Bundleware

In some cases, the programs added by bundleware are not visible in the Add/Remove programs. If you have reasons to believe that the installation you ran, added unwanted programs to the computer, you can press CTRL, ALT and DEL at same time to bring up the Task Manager. Go to the Processes tab and check out what all processes are running. If you are unsure of any process, run a search on the Internet to see what a process means and whether it is safe to close it or assign a very low priority to it. You can right-click on the process for more options.

In many cases, when you search for a process on a search engine, you will know the associated program. Or you can prevent the program from running using third party programs like WinPatrol or by disabling it under Control Panel > Administrative Options > Services. You can disable them only if they are visible in WinPatrol or in the Services section. If your are confused, but experiencing problems after installing any program, you can run a system restore.

Stay alert, stay safe!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.