Lenovo ships free OS recovery media for Superfish-affected laptops

Lenovo's recovery media will have no traces of Superfish, providing laptop users with a clean OS image

Lenovo in February admitted to preloading Superfish on some consumer notebooks, and now the company has taken steps so the dangerous adware doesn't reappear when users reinstall Windows.

The China-based company is shipping free recovery media for affected customers that will contain an image of the Windows OS and preloaded software, but not Superfish. With the recovery media, users will be able reinstall Windows on laptops and not worry about Superfish showing up again.

Lenovo was hit with criticism and lawsuits after admitting it "messed up" by preloading Superfish on laptops. The adware plugs product recommendations into search results, but also could leave computers vulnerable to malicious attacks by hijacking SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connections and opening major security holes.

A removal tool was provided to remove Superfish from affected laptops. The tool, however, did not remove Superfish from a backup image on PCs. Affected PCs have a recovery partition that stores a backup image of the OS and the preloaded software, including Superfish, with which the laptop shipped. So there is a danger of Superfish reappearing on laptops if a user reinstalls the OS from the recovery partition on the PC. It is difficult to make changes in the recovery partition.

Lenovo has confirmed it is shipping a clean version of the recovery media for free, though it wasn't immediately known if would come in a DVD or USB drive. The company isn't shipping the media in bulk to all affected users, so users will need to call customer service to check eligibility.

Laptops affected by Superfish include some consumer laptops that shipped between September 2014 and February 2015. A full list of laptops is available on Lenovo's website, but include E series, Edge series , Flex series, G series, Miix series, S series, U series, Y series, Yoga series and Z series models

ThinkPad laptops are not affected by Superfish.

Lenovo has since implemented a stricter process for evaluating and loading bloatware on PCs. Like Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the company believes that some preloaded such as antivirus and productivity software are important for computer users.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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