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I just bought an HP Windows 7 workstation. Every time I boot up the machine a series of ads appears on my desktop. For example, right now I have "HP Protection Advisory. Never lose an important file again! [bla bla bla...]" Then the only options are "Learn more" "Get Started" and "Remind me later". There is no "stop interrupting me with ads" option that I can find.

Is there some reasonably efficient way to remove this junk and crap from my computer without risking screwing it up and rendering it useless?

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This is probably comes from some of the crapware HP bestowed upon you for the honor of acquiring their machine. Some companies take crapware to new levels of annoyance (ahem..Sony ..ahem) and you can do one of 2 things:

  1. Go to the Uninstall control panel and remove any HP software you don't feel you need (will usually be all of them). While there, remove all the "trial" anti virus, office, image viewers etc. and get real software instead.

  2. [Professionals only] reinstall the OS from scratch - that way you're sure all evil has been purged.

Good luck!

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Yes - something got stuck in the cache - refreshed and (hopefully) fixed. Thanks. – Traveling Tech Guy Oct 31 '10 at 20:48
While this may be good advice for more seasoned users, it might not be the best just to tell people to start uninstalling all sorts of things. – MaQleod Oct 31 '10 at 20:49
There are at least 20 items in the uninstall control panel from HP, Norton, and other companies I haven't heard of. It could take hours to get rid of it all. And since I'm not a Windows expert there's an excellent chance of uninstalling something important by mistake. "Just restore, then?" More hours. Reinstall the OS from scratch? From what? No Windows DVD came with the system. I appreciate the answer. I'm not mad at you. But I am FURIOUS at HP, Norton, and Microsoft and the IDIOTS who abet them by responding to these ads. This is costing me TIME AND MONEY. It's absolutely maddening. – Ethan Oct 31 '10 at 21:06
I feel your pain brother. I had similar issues with Dell. Until I switched to Lenovo. Less crapware, and whatever is there, is easily uninstalled. It's not enough those companies get our hard earned money - we have to become captive crowds to their advertising schemes. I say ENOUGH. We should have a list of the most crapfying manufacturers, calculate how long it takes us to decrapify systems bought for them, and demand corresponding discounts based on time, effort, and emotional damage. Who's with me? – Traveling Tech Guy Nov 1 '10 at 4:01
I'm with you. Start with HP. There were easily at least a dozen pieces of HPSmartCrap and HPLiveJunk that I had to uninstall one. By. One. – Ethan Nov 2 '10 at 4:07

I'd use CCleaner to get this cleared up. Its a program that was made with the express purpose of dealing with all the things that manufacturers installed by default.

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I don't know. Install software to get rid of software? That doesn't sound like a very good idea on an intuitive level. And anyway, how can I be sure "CCleaner" isn't just another spam hose? – Ethan Oct 31 '10 at 21:11
You can do it all by hand if you want, but this is just the easy way. You can confirm CCleaner is legit through some basic googling - its been around for quite a while. – Ryan Gooler Oct 31 '10 at 21:18
OK, thanks. Sorry I'm so cranky about this. I've just had it. I did it the hard way but next time maybe I'll give CCleaner a try. – Ethan Nov 2 '10 at 4:02

A good tool for those who don't want to mess with uninstalling stuff until they are sure they don't want it, but don't want it starting up with windows, look to startuprun. You can disabled anything that starts without deleting it just to make sure you don't want it and that you are disabling what you think you are disabling without doing irreparable harm.

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I'd recommend you use PC Decrapifier and remove unwanted programs. If you're uncertain what programs to keep or remove, just edit your question with list of programs and we can guide you in recommending if it needs to be removed.

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I use this regularly to clean up new machines that are purchased prior to creating images. Its a great little piece of software – Joe Taylor Nov 1 '10 at 11:06

You've probably gotten rid of yours by now, but for anyone else:

Run msconfig

uncheck the item << hpwuSchdApplication >>

This will stop that pesky HP Protection Adisory from running at Start-Up.

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There are several articles on TechRepublic on how to get rid of crapware.

They cover how to use autoruns, ccleaner and symantec's tool for removing its software.

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