Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why is everyone out to take over my PC?

It seems everyone is out to take over my PC these days. It doesn't matter what application it is, it seems to want to be the center of attention. That makes sense, I suppose. Naturally, products that are liberally licensed or freeware are the exception to this rule as they are less about money.

Right from the get-go the OEM of the PC you buy has attempted to 'take over' all sorts of aspects of it. This helps them 'brand' it, but often times their software sucks or is the cumulative result of 50 different bundle deals some asshole made at a trade conference.

Ok, so you get rid of that crap. Heck, BestBuy even will do this for you if you pay them, lol.

Then pick a web browser. Naturally they all want to be your default and will pester you to death, by default, if you do not choose them by default. Sure, a click and its gone, and I give credit to some for doing this better than others. Again, those with less financial interests or concern do better here.

Then the web browser wants you to pick a search engine. It used to be they just 'hijacked' it, making the assumption you are switching to 'them'. Now with anti-trust fear, things have changed and you get to pick. That's not so bad. I like that trend. How do I get on that list though? If I'm not on it, I better hope I have some other plan.

Then you pick a security product (or most people do, I may be the exception here as I am my own security, and it exceeds the capabilities of these products), and try it. That security product now encompasses everything security related. So, it takes over your Network, Firewall, File System, and general PC. Everything that needs to 'get done' goes through it first. And you wonder why your PC is slow to start up? Try without a real-time scanner. Oh, the speed ;). The point is, now this security suite has taken over your PC. Credits to Microsoft, again with FREEWARE that doesn't do this sort of massive 'take over' (their Security Essentials). Of course, they already control the things that would have been taken over, so ....

Then maybe your WiFi card. Naturally, it has its own software, even though it works fine with Windows without any of its own crapware installed. Its own software may include a toolbar or two, as these bundle agreements are a real great way to entice people to a party at trade shows (or something).

Install a few other things, bundled with other toolbars. Let's hope you're not using Internet Explorer as your browser. Fortunately, even it now asks you if you want to disable ALL add-ons, as they realized it was totally out of control. Everyone competing for your viewing attention.

Ah, you are online. Left, right, front, center, there is no space left unfilled. Explore, and let your mind be guided ;). But, watch out, I haven't even mentioned malware -- something lurking everywhere it seems, and ready to trick you by any means possible. They literally stoop to anything to take over your PC. And once they have you, they have you. Don't think you are protected by your security product, that is the #1 cause of infection in fact (in my humble opinion). People think they are protected. Keeping up with malware is a hard chore, and one usually lost (else people wouldn't get malware, eh?).

Fortunately, you can find legitimate software on the internet too, and depending on how greedy that company is, it is just as happy to take over your PC. Here's my #1 rule: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU INSTALL. Do not install anything until you install in a virtual machine first, just to see if it is crapware or not (no other way to tell for sure). Some software does permanent damage, modifying or deleting registry keys or values the system relies upon, other software just slows it down. It used to be they would muck up system files too, but Microsoft 'fixed' this issue with Windows File Protection. Of course, creating a restore point prior to, or during installation is helpful - but to be entirely safe the virtual machine approach is best.

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