Dell De-Crapifier Follow-up

Unfortunately, I don’t have a bunch of new Dell PCs to test this on, so this is where you come in. This is where I also want to give you some tips on how to help enhance this. One thing you can do is use the macro recorder in the SciTE editor.

Select “AU3Recorder (ALT+F6)” from the Tools menu. Then manually step through the uninstall process and save off the resulting script. You should first play around with the macro recorder with some other program first, like notepad. Just to get a feel for how it works. Take a look at the online help for this too.

The other thing to do is to take a look at the registry entries. All the programs that can be uninstalled are stored under this folder.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall

Each one of these should have a key called UninstallString. This is what gets executed when you run the uninstall from Add/Remove Applications under Control Panel. If the uninstall string uses MsiExec then it’s really easy to run an unattended uninstall. You just need to get that long GUID string in the /X parameter and you can add a line to the De-Crapifier like:

UninstallMsiByGuid("QuickBooks Trial", "{F543B12A-13F5-487E-9314-F7D25E1BBE3E}")

The last thing to take a look at is the Run registry entries. Many programs like to add entries here to do useless things like launch task tray programs that continually check for updates. Programs like QuickTime and RealPlayer are particularly annoying.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

If you find one to remove, add a line like this to the De-Crapifier:

RegDelete("HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run", "QuickTime Task")

Also know that a basic log file is generated when the De-Crapifier is run. It’s stored on the root of the C: drive.

I’ve now set up a dedicated page on the site for the De-Crapifier where you can always get the latest version. It also has some of this same contribution information. Hope you enjoy it and send in your changes! (send them to ddc at yorkspace dot com)

The Dell De-Crapifier Page

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21 Responses to Dell De-Crapifier Follow-up

  1. DST says:

    Unfortunately I found your script a little too late. I’ve spent countless hours “decrapifying” my various Dell PCs, though not forgetting to sysprep and image the darn thing when I’m done.

    Great tool! It’ll be of great use to a lot of people. Many people would love to rid their system(s) of Dell’s junk but either don’t have the know-how or just can’t spend that much time “cleaning” their brand new system(s). IT guys are different, we can “clean” once then image the rest of our systems.

    Also, haven’t tried your tool yet but does it get rid of the InstallShield updater? There’s an uninstaller for it and it doesn’t even work.

  2. First, great job writing this script. Also, congratulations on all the exposure. It’s good to get the word out about what Dell is doing.

    Last year I wrote about how Dell is charging $49 to help you remove this junk from your already purchased computers. I received a lot of comments similar to the ones you received. The most common seem to be: 1.) Buy a Mac 2.) Run Linux 3.) Build your own computer!

    I’ve built a number of computers myself, run Gentoo on one computer, Debian on another, and just recently purchased my first Mac. Trust me, I understand the benefits of all of these approaches. However, we are sometimes forced into running Windows and there’s often little we can do about that. For example, at work we have to run a lot of Windows specific software due to “legacy” systems that our customers use. On principal it would be great if I could choose to work for open minded companies who have abandoned Windows altogether, but in practice I would also like to put food on the table.

    On my web site, a user commented, “Don’t be lazy…assemble your own computer.” To this I responded with the following:

    Most of the computers I’ve owned I’ve built myself. In the past I’ve done this to save money, but it’s really no longer going to save you money considering the cost of shipping parts from multiple vendors vs. the low priced machines that Dell sells. Today I would only build my own computer from parts for the enjoyment of it.

    When a company needs to buy 100 new computers for their employees, you can’t expect them to build 100 computers from scratch. (It’s not cost effective for, say, a law firm to enter the computer assembly business.) That would be like saying that Fedex should build all of their delivery trucks from parts rather than buying them from a vehicle manufacturer. Fedex is in the package delivery business… they’re not a car company.

    One of the benefits of living in a consumer society is the ability to save time by using products that others have made. We no longer have to cut down trees and carve them into boats ourselves if we want to travel to a foreign land. As consumers, we put our faith in companies like Dell to make good products that are worth buying. It’s unfortunate that Dell is violating their consumers trust, but the solution shouldn’t be to go back to building computers by hand. The solution is to buy from one of Dell’s competitors.

  3. Jason says:

    Michael,

    Great comment. I’ve been building PCs on the side for myself, friends and family for about 12 years. The days of doing it cheaper yourself are long gone. Now, I usually just spec out a PC online for a friend and send them my recommendation on what to buy.

    Most people that I help do this for are just average users and want to check email, surf the web and upload their digital pictures. For that, pretty much any new PC works fine. I can’t build anything like that cheaper then Dell can. Especially when you factor in the cost of the OS, there’s no way I can compete with that. It has nothing to do with being lazy, it’s the cost factor.

    In fact, these days, you need to spend more energy keeping up with the technology just to be able to give someone an intelligent recommendation. Back in “the day” it was just a matter of what current AMD or Intel chip, and what speed. There are SO many more choices on the market now.

    Computers over the last decade have now basically become throw-away items. When starting college, I put $2,000 into a PC. Now, I could easily pick something up for $300. If it dies in a couple years, who cares, buy another one.

    Exceptions come in when you need specialized or specific hardware. For instance, when building my MythTV box, there was no way I could just pick something up from Dell to do that. I wanted a specific case, MB with specific video and audio chipsets, etc.

  4. Joshua says:

    Jason,

    Last week I ordered my first laptop from Dell, with the knowledge that I would need to remove the crap. However, I wasn’t aware that the developer community was so pissed about this topic.

    I’m hesitant to use your script, I’m not a developer, but I’m willing to wipe the hard drive and install a fresh version of XP Pro. But I haven’t found clear instructions that will remove the Dell partitioning as well as the crapware.

    Is there any chance you could post, send to me, or recommend a set of the instructions for truly wiping the brand new hard drive and reinstalling the OS?

    Thanks.

  5. Jason says:

    Hi Joshua,

    The script I wrote will only uninstall the software. It will not wipe the partition in any way. Essentially it behaves as if you went to “Add/Remove Programs” in control panel and selected the programs to remove. The script does a similar thing, just in an automated way.

    If you have the installation disks from Dell, and you have the time. Then I would stick that in and boot from that. It should take you through the process of reinstalling everything, but it may keep the Dell partition, if that’s what you want.

    If you have just a regular copy of Windows XP, with a quick Google search found this site:
    http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/cleanxpinstall.html
    It looks like that should step you through doing a clean install.

    I hope that’s helpful.

    — Jason

  6. Joshua says:

    Thanks for the reply! I discovered that my “new” 40 GB HD only has 28 GB available. The partition and crap stole 12 freakin’ GB!! A clean install is the Promised Land.

  7. westofhere says:

    I am very much looking forward to using this tool. I install new PC’s for clients on a fairly regular basis and I loath having to uninstall crapware from all the vendors Dell has gotten into bed with. Will report back with results.

  8. ceramica says:

    The company I work for occassioanlly provides Dell laptops to customers for various reasons. I’d like to run the Dell De-Crapifier, but we do purchase them with antivirus (mcaffee or norton) pre-installed. That’s the only program I don’t want to get rid off – before I run this, does your app uninstall this ?
    If your program works for us, we’d be happy to send in a donation.

  9. Jason says:

    It does currently uninstall McAffee, and I’m not sure if the trial version
    of McAffee is the same as the full version. Norton is not touched.

    All you would need to do is open up the au3 file and comment out (or
    remove) this line near the very end of the file.

    UninstallMcAffee()

    Then use AutoIT to run the au3 and/or use it to create a new executable. You would want to delete the one provided in the zip package.

  10. Jonah says:

    Hi,

    Very impressed with the de-crapifier. I will try it next time I get a Dell to sort out.

    I have just de-crapped a new HP box for a relative, all the observations in the two blogs are spot on it is a real pain having to re-image or more usually reformat/reinstall to get clean XP installation.

    Use Linux – well yeah this is a SuSE10 box but I work with Windows, Linux is terrific but has a long way to go before it is a real OS alternative for newbies.

    Build a PC yourself – agreed, most of the time I build machines for people and always for myself. Costs more but “pay peanuts get monkeys” is always true.

    Couple of things I use to make the re-install less painful. For drivers I use Driver Genius Pro

    http://www.driver-soft.com/

    Install and run it on the original installation, backup all the drivers to CD with it then when the clean install is done use the device manager and the backup CD to re-install all the drivers. It only backsup the driver files themselves not all the crap that comes with HP and Dell etc, for eg the mouse drivers on this HP I just finished were 48Mb!! and the Network drivers were 38Mb.

    Driver Genius Pro can be downloaded as a 15 day trial, as I only use it for “De-crapifying” it gets wiped on re-format so it is effectively free.

    Secondly I never bother with rescue disks, I use a generic OEM XP and the original CD Key. It won’t activate but go through the phone activation system and they will activate it no problem, no explanations have ever been necessary only the “is this copy installed on any other PCs?” question. I will answer “Yeah 53 but I promise this is the last one” one day just to see how they deal with it.

    Jonah

  11. Greg from PA says:

    I set the GUI Style to WS_VSROLL, and the window does not scroll.

    I tried using buttons, and set events on them with msgbox’s and that doesn’t work.

    Please help.

  12. Narg says:

    There is a much easier and better way…

    Always, Always get the $10 Windows Re-Installation CD with your Dell.

    Before you power-up, throw that disc in and re-install Windows. Be sure to delete all the extra partitions that you won’t need (which will also give you more hard drive space = bonus!)

    Next, visit the Microsoft update page to get all the latest security updates and other stuff. Add extras from here if you wish (i.e. Media Player 10, .NET, Windows Defender, etc etc.)

    Then, install the Dell Resource CD that came with your Dell and get all the hardware drivers installed that it locates (they need to make this disc and program easier, it’s not bad, but not straight foward either.)

    Last, visit both Dell and Hardware sites to get the latest and greatest drivers. No matter what shape your Dell is in, you’ll need to do this. De-crapified or not. Dell never ships with the latest and greatest drivers. Other PC makers don’t either so it’s not a Dell problem in general.

    After that you’ll have a clean fresh PC with no crapware that’s 100% ready for action! Much better than fighting the crap, when you can just expunge it 100% from the start.

  13. Red says:

    I actually work for Dell, and we should have this on our resource CD. You would be surprised at how the trial software behaves after it expires, and some just refuse to uninstall, prompting a call to us! For those of you putting down Dell support, you have to remember that they rush us through training and only tell us (briefly) on how to add and remove the software. We are BY FAR no experts on any of the software Dell installs, and the majority of the “real techs” they have, would not touch that software with a ten foot pole, but some wise people in management actually think this is good business, and Dell gets paid ALOT OF MONEY to install it.
    But, by far the biggest misconception by the Dell buying public is that we should know how to fix it, but never dream of calling Mc affee when their internet security software kills the internet all together!
    As for comments of preinstalled spy ware in Dell systems, that is TOTALY false! Dell has a BIG beef with spy ware, and anyone could sue them if they actually did install some.

  14. John says:

    For non-techies;

    I also have program that I do not want to uninstall.

    1. What do you mean by the term “comment out this line” in your above reply below: (what characters do I type and where to comment out?)

    “All you would need to do is open up the au3 file and comment out (or
    remove) this line near the very end of the file.
    UninstallMcAffee()”

    2. Oncw we download AutoIT, what do we have to do to run/create an executable?

    3. For those of us (many) who paid for McAffee and are keeping it. What do we need to do in MCAffee to let your .exe run?

  15. Jason says:

    In Response to John:

    To answer your questions:

    1. As you can see from the top of the file all commented lines begin with a semicolon “;” simply place that at the beginning of the line. As stated, you could alternatively delete the line.

    2. To create the executable, it’s easiest to do with SciTE. Open the file and select “Compile” from the “Tools” menu. An exe will be generate in the same folder as the .au3 file. You can verify by looking at the time/date of the file.

    3. Follow steps 1 and 2. Then the De-Crapifier will leave McAffee untouched.

  16. Dan says:

    Brilliant!

    Just used it on the Dell E510 I bought. It worked great, except was not able to fully remove McAffee. I was able to dump it manually, though, and then put on AVG instead.

  17. Trent says:

    So does this get rid of all third party software on a dell? (just asking since I have a B130 coming in a day or two)

  18. Jason says:

    Hi Trent,

    It only uninstalls the programs listed here:
    http://www.yorkspace.com/dell-de-crapifier/

  19. Art Rotman says:

    Read about your Dell De-Crapifier in current edition of PC World. Does your software work with other manufacturers? I have a Toshiba Satelite.

  20. Emily says:

    This is the BEST tool EVER. I tried doing a clean install from CD on an Inspiron E1705 and ended up with no Sonic Record Now, missing bluetooth, etc. So I reinstalled from the restore partition and immediately ran Decrapifier. Couldn’t be better! Maybe I will start recommending Dell again – maybe.

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