Archive for July 2010

Installing software

July 22, 2010

My partner at work is one of those people who installs every upgrade and always accepts the default installation for any new software. Now, if you read that and thought, “Wow, what an idiot,” then I’m preaching to the choir: go to the Fellowship Hall, grab a cup of coffee and a serving of pie and wait for me, I’ll be there in a minute.

If you read that and thought, “What’s wrong with that?” read on. This article is for you. I’ve got pie waiting so I’ll be as brief as possible.

Remember those days way back when, when software came on CDs, and what it said on the package is what you were installing and that was it?

Now, all the software you could ever want to do just about any task that software can do is just a download and a few mouse clicks away. That’s a mixed blessing, as it happens, and this is the most important part:

Most software comes bundled with other stuff, and if you accept the default install, you’re getting it all whether you like it or not.

It used to be that the bundled software was innocuous, nothing to worry about. Most often, now, it’s yet another browser toolbar you don’t need or want. (Most open source software published under Gnu licensing rules is bundle-free.) Install enough stuff, and your browser will start to look like the picture.

Is that what you want?

Even software I would usually trust right out of the gate, like the anti-virus I just installed this morning, AVG, had the Ask.com toolbar bundled with it.

Remember this one thing, if nothing else: there is no browser toolbar that you need. All “helpers” just provide functions that are readily available in most browsers anyway, slow down your browsing experience, and, usually, report your browsing habits back to the owner, who then sells that information to marketers.

Really, is that what you want?

Here are my hard and fast rules on installing software:

Never, ever, EVER accept the default installation. Always select the “Custom” install.

Never, ever, EVER install any software except the stuff I specifically downloaded and want

It’s so simple, isn’t it? When faced with the choice of “Simple” (or “Quick”) and “Custom”, always choose “Custom.” Do this, and your PC will be cleaner, faster, and your browser window will always be user-friendly.

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