Crapware

What is Crapware, why does it exist and what problems does it cause?

Software without real user benefit

It can be found on many mobile phones and also on various new computers: Crapware. In a narrow sense, the term Crapware refers to third-party software that is pre-installed on a computer and does not offer any real benefit from the user’s point of view. In a broader sense, software that is unintentionally installed when downloading software from the Internet or installing it from a CD is also called Crapware.

The term crap stands among other things for junk, dirt, nonsense or also sh… Hence, Crapware is a portmanteau word for “miserable software”.

The difference between Crapware and Adware

While some speak of crapware, others speak of adware. What is the difference? The difference lies in the perspective of the viewer:

  • From a user’s point of view, Crapware is miserable software, because it offers no, no recognisable or no significant benefit.
  • From a device vendor’s perspective, it is adware that can generate additional revenue because a financial fee is charged for pre-installation on the devices.
  • And from the manufacturer’s perspective, it is also adware, and thus software that increases the awareness and reach of the product and the manufacturer on the one hand, and enables additional business through the provision of paid updates, upgrades or cross upgrades as well.

 

Crapware or Adware - a question of perspective

An alternative interpretation of Crapware

There is also an alternative, very simple interpretation of Crapware: software that actually works badly. As a consequence, one could name

  • banana software that only ripens on the customer’s premises,
  • bloatware that has an excessive number of unnecessary, unused features,
  • beta versions that don’t deserve the name and keep getting hung up on,
  • hotfixes that cannot be installed, or
  • upgrades where comparability with existing systems is not ensured,

as Crapware.

Crapware and the concrete problems

And what are the problems caused by Crapware?

  • It consumes storage space and, in the case of mobile phones, possibly also data volumes.
  • It often cannot be uninstalled or can only be uninstalled with great effort.
    If the software is supplied by a mobile phone manufacturer, Crapware can often only be moved to a folder and thus be removed from the user’s field of view.
    If it is software that was installed on a computer by mistake during a download, it is often not even clear what was installed where. Typical examples are browser add-ons that lead to changed start, standard or search settings, or programs that move to the foreground when the computer starts up, such as virus scanners.
  • It can make the operation of programs more difficult or make them unclear. This is particularly noticeable with browser add-ons and user interfaces filled with icons.
  • It can represent a security gap, at the latest when the software becomes outdated, since the user understandably does not try to keep it up to date by updating it.

And last but not least, the installation of Crapware disregards user interests. Thus, it is at least image-damaging. This is an aspect that both device suppliers and adware manufacturers should consider carefully.

 

Notes:

Crapware or Adware is not Malware per se. The damage of a computer is therefore NOT intended.
Sometimes you also read about Decrapifier tools. How good (and safe) these tools are has to be considered in each individual case.

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