The software you don’t want, didn’t ask for, but somehow gets mysteriously installed on your computer, smart phone, smart TV, or other electronic device. This is different from “malware” or a “virus” because bloatware is almost always installed by the manufacturer of something you purchased. Bloatware is usually there to sell you something, but it’s not really intended to hurt anybody or anything.

Bloatware Example 1.

When you buy a new computer, it comes with a bunch of trial editions of office software, antivirus, games, and other software. After the trial period is over, the software starts sending you little popup messages in the corner of your computer screen saying things as straightforward as, “buy me!” or as ominous as, “your children will be abducted if you don’t purchase this antivirus software…enter your credit card now to purchase a 10-year subscription…this message will self destruct in 5…4…3…”.  The latter example never really happened, but it describes the essence of a trial software purchase prompt, a good sign that something is considered bloatware.

Bloatware Example 2.

Smart phones come with a bunch of brand-name pre-installed software on them, supposedly to drive down the consumer cost of these devices. They’re sort of like sponsored advertisements, but they’re built into the fabric of your phone’s existence. Sometimes you can disable these apps, but most of the time you can’t uninstall them. It might be a game or it might be cloud file storage – whatever it is, you didn’t ask for it but it still showed up on your phone. It’s bloatware.