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Thread: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

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    OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Following on from a different thread (about some bloatware), I've been wondering about these. To be clear, I'm talking about various scripts to 'debloat' a brand new OS. Included in that, I guess, is 'optimising'.

    I mean, first and most obvious, 3rd party tools (like the MacAfee stuff I asked about) that you didn't know about, ask for or want that get installed by default. It's often (usually) junk.

    But also, first-party stuff. This can be a bit more subtle, but stuff MS decides to both install and start by default, without knowing if you want it or will ever use it. Examples might be the MS Store app, XBox tools and their cloud-drive stuff. I don't use any of that, probably never will, and I not only don't especially want it installed (taking up space) but I certainly don't want it all automatically running every time I start Windows, because all that does is slow2 do2wn the startup, and sap machine performance, resources and available memory, for exactly zero benefit to me.

    Oh, and third category, I guess ... privacy-invasion, phone-home, telemetry, whatever you want to call it.

    So .... scripts? There are a few of these around, often located on github, and I've often wondered if they are any good?

    See, I've always done this stuff myself, slowly and manually. But there's a trade-off. On the one hand, handing over responsibility to dejunk your OS is certainly quicker and easier. Skim the options, tick/unticka few boxes and let it prune and rinse your OS. It saves time. On the other hand, I've never felt comfortable about handing that off to some script. Messing with the OS can cause all sorts of trouble with bits getting removed you didn't intend to, or dependency issues, etc.

    So I do it manually, but I end up with perhaps a sub-optimal de-bloating. If I do it myself, and I'm not sure what it does, I don't touch it. And I'm not an OS guru so there's quite a bit where I'm not sure if removing it is a mssive gotcha. So my efforts are bloat removal (and thinning the default startup list) are less .... aggressive, and effective .... than I suspect those scripts would be.

    Is it worth delegating the responsibility for understanding what removing this or that might do to someone that understands the OS far better than I do?

    What is the collective view of such scripts? Useful tool, or dangerous and best avoided? Do you use them, and if so, which do you trust?

    'Cos right now, I'm still inclinded towards a less effective but much slower 'do it myslf' approach. Am I missing a trick, and being overly cautious?
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Chaos Monkey Apex's Avatar
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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    This any good for you ?

    https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Shut up is what I use, plenty of options and can turn on and off most things quickly and easily
    Jon

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Doesn't shutup10 merely disable rather than remove?

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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    I presume it just does the same thing you can do via Turn on/off Windows features and Manage optional features in windows 10?

    https://www.windowscentral.com/how-m...res-windows-10

    I don't use supposed clean up type scripts - removing third party stuff that's been put on your laptop is one thing, but I've not seen the case for further removing chunks out of Windows as I don't think there's much to gain by doing so. Functionality/privacy etc. is controlled by the in-Windows options described in the link.

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apex View Post
    Yes .... and no.

    I already use it and yeah, I think it's very good at what it does. But it only does the 'privacy' part. Does it well, from what I can make of it, but only goes so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by spacein_vader View Post
    Doesn't shutup10 merely disable rather than remove?
    As I understand it, yes. Which is a pretty good start, for most of that stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    I presume it just does the same thing you can do via Turn on/off Windows features and Manage optional features in windows 10?

    https://www.windowscentral.com/how-m...res-windows-10

    I don't use supposed clean up type scripts - removing third party stuff that's been put on your laptop is one thing, but I've not seen the case for further removing chunks out of Windows as I don't think there's much to gain by doing so. Functionality/privacy etc. is controlled by the in-Windows options described in the link.
    Yeah, it does just do the same thing .... except in a more comprehensive and way-easier-to-do fashion. Rather than hunting down the shedloads of options, in multiple places, control panels etc, you get one big list, can turn stuff off (or, if needed, back on) with a single tick-box, and .... done. Sure, you still have to run down the list, and you rely on the latest version having included everything, but it's way, WAY quicker than doing it manually.

    I guess there might be times when you may want to change a setting rather than simply disable something, but I can't think of an example right now.

    As for removing stuff .... that's what I was really after opinions on.

    Take ...., dunno, erm .... XBox stuff. Or OneDrive. As an example, I don't use anything of either, and don't intend to. IFI were to ever get an Xbox (other than my 360) it would be only if I can use it in entirely stand-alone mode. i.e. I don't mind downloading patches etc but have no interest whatever in playing online, or using MS subscription services, etc.

    The same applies (with bells on) to OneDrive. I not only don't want to use it, but would be far happier if my machine physically can't use it, because it doesn't have it installed.

    And again, exactly the same applies to MS Office. My ONLY use of that is restricted to certain machines for legacy uses, and using very old versions. I don't have, want and will never use any of their 365 variants, whether 'free' or not.

    In each of those examples, the case for removing them is .... layered.

    Layer 1 = disable. It goes without saying, for me.

    Layer 2 = prevent them loading at startup, despite me having no use for them. Why have startup slowed down, and unnecessary processes or services running, that I fully intend to never use. Sometimes, 'disabling' doesn't seem to prevent loading, and loading wastes my hardware resources.

    Layer 3 = remove entirely. The case for that is that it makes it very much less likely that something, be it another process, or even MS via an update, can re-enable what isn't there. It has been known for users to turn stuff off, and then find it mysteriously turned back on again.

    But it's around Layer 3 that it can get complicated. Firstly, it's hard to prevent MS detecting that XYZ function has been removed, and re-installing it via a future update if they desired to. If I can remove it via script, they can relace it the same way. Of course, I can then run the removal script again, and we effectively have a game of leap-frog between MS and the script writer.

    More complicated, of course, is when/if removing service ABC knackers service DEF. An example, as I understand it, is Cortana and Search. I have utterly no use for the Cortana feature, and want it turned off, off, OFF. My ideal world would be that MS recognised that many people want that garbage gone, and made it easy. Would it be cynical of me to suggest that the entire reason MS want it to be so hard to do that properly, and so integrate it deep it Windows, is because it is an utterly self-serving feature of Windows, as is the vast bulk of the data gathering, that they seek to stop us doing it?

    I don't have, or want, an MS account. I run entirely on local accounts. I don't want or need MS Store, or any of their online services. Given that I intend to stay local-account entirely for as long as possible, my usage case for removing so much of this inherent MS bloatware i simply that I don't want it, now or in the future, so why have it installed? What good does it do me on my machine if I not only don't and won't use it, but actively wish to ensure it cannot be used?

    This, BTW, is one reason why I'm extremely reluctant to go to Win11, because the stuff I hear (in the little I pay attention to it) is that MS are signalling the intent to make installing Win11, in the near future, not just harder and harder to install without an MS account, but impossible, even on Pro versions. Well, we'll see how that goes with many business users, but the intent seems to be there.

    That trend to 'local account' lockout in W11, by the way, most definitely was a factor in why my laptop was Ryzen 9, not Intel 12th Gen. Not the only factor, but a significant one.

    This is why I'm looking at these debloating tools. If, and I repeat if they are both effective, and safe to use, then there's little downside for me. But that is a significant "if". Using them suggests placing a considerable reliance not just in the motivation and lack of hidden agenda of the tool writer, but also in their competence to do it without messing up my Windows install. I'm moderately happy on the motivation and lack of agenda bit, but still distinctly nervous about how safe they are, abeit it's more cockup than conspiracy that worries me. They're only worth using (to me) if doing so doesn't cause more problems than they solve.
    Last edited by Saracen999; 24-02-2022 at 03:01 PM.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Take a look at AppBuster, also from O&O (the people who make ShutUp 10) . https://www.oo-software.com/en/ooappbuster

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by GuruNot View Post
    Take a look at AppBuster, also from O&O (the people who make ShutUp 10) . https://www.oo-software.com/en/ooappbuster
    Good call, never knew about that, well worth a look.
    Jon

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by GuruNot View Post
    Take a look at AppBuster, also from O&O (the people who make ShutUp 10) . https://www.oo-software.com/en/ooappbuster

    I hadn't come across that, either. And it is indeed well worth a look. It's exactly the kind of thing I was talking about but with the potentially significant benefit of being from a source I know, and ..... well, if not fully trust, at least have no specific reason beyond natural caution to not-trust. And I've had no problems with Shutup10. At the very least, it's way more trustworthy than some script found on the net, suggested by some Youtube channel I'm also not hugely familiar with (which, for some weird reason, makes me very nervous ).

    I guess at some point, I either have to just do it all myself manually, spend several years learning how then write my own tool, or bite the bullet and trust somebody.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    O&O have been around for years haven't they, remember their defragger back in the day. At least there is that
    Jon

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    In each of those examples, the case for removing them is .... layered.

    Layer 1 = disable. It goes without saying, for me.

    Layer 2 = prevent them loading at startup, despite me having no use for them. Why have startup slowed down, and unnecessary processes or services running, that I fully intend to never use. Sometimes, 'disabling' doesn't seem to prevent loading, and loading wastes my hardware resources.

    Layer 3 = remove entirely. The case for that is that it makes it very much less likely that something, be it another process, or even MS via an update, can re-enable what isn't there. It has been known for users to turn stuff off, and then find it mysteriously turned back on again.
    In your layer system, I routinely do layers 1 and 2. But my interest is in what you gain above that by doing layer 3.

    You've suggested one gain here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    The same applies (with bells on) to OneDrive. I not only don't want to use it, but would be far happier if my machine physically can't use it, because it doesn't have it installed.
    But as far as I can tell, that's actually no different when you do layer 1 & 2 - if there's nothing starting up an application/service and the application/service is disabled, then physically removing it doesn't buy you anything. You could argue that maybe something resets layer 1 & 2 and thus is more likely to restart use of a service, but in today's connected and constant patching world, layer 3 doesn't prevent this any more either - a new Windows update might well install a new version of the thing you removed anyway - likely in the background if it ever tried to enable something that it found was missing.

    So the only reason I can think to remove it is gaining you a few megabytes of disk space back, which doesn't seem worth it to me (but it might to you of course), especially for the increased chance of breaking something else - my event logs are already full enough of errors, I don't need any more!

    Re O&O though, good company I think. Will definitely take a look at the app buster.
    Last edited by kalniel; 25-02-2022 at 12:07 PM.

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    Quite a long time, certainly. They also do about 20 different utility products (I went and looked), most of which are modest-cost, but paid-for. Some, like mAppbuster and Shutup10 are free. I guess, loss-leaders, and very good public relations. If I hadn't just sorted new backup software, I would have been inclined to give their options a good look, too.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    I found this on their shutup page a nice touch :

    Many users have asked us if they can support us. We think that’s incredible!

    We are repeatedly asked whether one can, or should, pay for the program. O&O ShutUp10++ is freeware, but we are of course flattered by the question. If you wish, you are welcome to buy a bone for our office dog, Frida. She brings joy to the office, and that would certainly bring joy to her!
    Jon

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    I've not come across these O&O tools, I will definitely take a look at adding them to my arsenal.
    I like the fact it's free for commercial use as well, something I always look for.


    Another approach would be to create a custom ISO for yourself. So that every time you install the OS, the settings are already disabled and you no longer need to run scripts or apps post installation.

    I highly recommend NTLite. https://www.ntlite.com/
    It is $40 but I think very good value for what it does. I've found it to be a great educational tool as well. It is definitely for the intermediate/advanced user.



    One thing I do at work is maintain a custom Windows Environment that I started in the XP days, it was the XP version of NTLite that got me into it.
    It's purely script based and on the whole makes numerous registry changes that would mostly be achieved via group policies, but includes things that are not Group Policy based. It does include a dozen or so community apps to achieve a number of things that Microsoft attempts to lock you out of.

    The Environment aims are to create a fully locked down profile, remove windows apps, disable services & features enabled by default, or enable ones that we need.
    I've always wanted to release it but in a way that would be customisable for the user. In its current form there are too many problems with it:

    • It's become a behemoth, there are a huge amount of settings in Windows 10 that can be disabled.
    • Some settings need to be altered in a specific order, and some require reboots before applying
    • There's no documentation, however, there are plenty of comments as to what each setting is changing.
    • You would have to understand the scripts in order to know what setting you would want to customise to your own needs


    I've wanted to create an app around it, but I'm not paid enough and I've never had the free time to make something on the side.
    Last edited by AGTDenton; 03-03-2022 at 12:39 AM.

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    Re: OS (especially Windows) Bloatware-removal scripts - opinions?

    MSMG Toolkit is also a good toolkit to debloat Windows install

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