What is Windows Debloating? Why it might not be a secure option

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Since Windows became a common sight in homes and offices, users have been determined to optimize its performance. Forums and chat rooms regarding tips and solutions for Windows have cropped up on various websites. While some have genuine fixes to persistent problems, experts have verified that most of them can cause you more problems than they claim to resolve.

Despite that, there are widespread rituals to debloat your Windows PC as soon as you boot it up for the first time. In this article, we’ll discuss what Windows debloating is and why it might not be a good idea for your system long-term.

What is Windows debloating?

Debloating your Windows computer is a practice that involves removing or replacing specific software, supposedly to keep your data safe, reduce hardware load, and streamline critical processes. Some even require you to install software for the job and get rid of bloatware eating up resources. Still, no empirical evidence suggests that any of them have significant positive effects on your usage. In fact, scripts and software could cause issues instead of fixing specific problems.

Software affected by debloating

Debloating your PC can affect several crucial programs for your day-to-day activities. Sometimes, you can come across replacements that offer similar features for a reduced price or even free of cost, claiming that all your data is secure. They can put backend trackers that collect plenty of user information without prior intimation.

Debloating your PC can affect the function or integrity of the following programs that ship by default with every authorized copy of Windows 10/11.

  • Windows File Explorer
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Windows Defender
  • Photos
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Movies & TV

Possible threats from debloating

Debloating can cause you more harm than good if you’re unaware of the files you’re editing or the software you’re about to install in detail. Doing so can expose your system to a wide range of threats. These include, but are not limited to, the following.

Viruses and ransomware

Some of the most promising debloating techniques can open your computer to virus or ransomware attacks. Those can occur from the software you install that bypasses the firewall or any other antivirus measure you may have.

Many replacements for popular file editors can infect your computer with spyware, gaining access to peripherals such as microphones and cameras to collect data without your permission. That data can be accessed by a hacker, ready to be sold to the highest bidder.

Accelerated hardware degradation

While debloating your PC claims to ‘clean’ it so that you can make all your devices last longer, installing non-certified software or disabling specific services can increase the load on your computer. In turn, your graphics card or RAM drain can increase, reducing the effective life cycle of your system.

Compromised storage and root access

Whether SSD or HDD, your computer’s storage is a delicate system that runs with unique codes and logic to save all files and programs, any improper modification can lead to corrupt paths. It can reduce the available space or render entire drives useless. When done on a large enough scale, it can affect the BIOS setup, preventing your PC from starting up at all. That is a trivial occurrence with users who try debloating their Windows computers.

Alternatives to debloating

Instead of messing with the system files or downloading software from suspicious sources, you can utilize a few alternatives that let you make the most of Windows without arising unmanageable complications.

Uninstall apps manually

If you wish to clear some space or try out open-source options, manually uninstall any redundant program. You’ll have more control over where you install it and how much access it has to your system.

Check for updates

If your PC is running slow of late, perhaps you’ve missed out on a few critical updates from Microsoft. You can check the same in the Windows Update section in Settings to check the same. The updates even contain a summary of the patch notes, so you know what programs it will affect.

Ensure security for your system

While third-party antivirus often seems tempting to increase security, Windows Defender is competitive enough to handle most malware. It gets consistent updates and allows a cloud backup should your data get restricted or stolen. In the coming months, you can expect AI-driven protection that can take your PC protection to new levels.

If you’re worried about your network and online activities, it will help to keep a trusted VPN for Windows installed. It can mask your IP address to mimic any location worldwide and encrypt all incoming/outgoing data. It means fewer chances of getting your activities and exchanged information compromised. Furthermore, some Virtual Private Networks have advanced capabilities, like blocking cryptojacking scripts.

Optimize startup apps and shortcuts

In case you feel that a few apps are taking too much visual space or demanding too much from your hardware, you can optimize their functions from the Services Center. All you need to do is type ‘services.msc’ in the Run window and disable the programs you’re not using.

Moreover, Windows allows you to manage the shortcuts directly from the Desktop or the Taskbar, should you feel you need a cleaner look. With Windows 11, the new themes are much more customizable as well.

Short Summary

Getting up close and personal with your Windows PC and trusting unverified information online can only lead to trouble. We hope this piece granted you better insight into what Windows debloating is and why it might not be the most secure option around. Various programs mimic reliable software in hopes of getting users to download them. So, your downloads should be limited to programs that you know well or can prove their respectability.

We recommend doing it manually if you want to get rid of unwanted programs. Uninstall the ones you do not want. However, if the program keeps popping up, it might be malicious. Then, an antivirus tool will work wonders against it.

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