Starting with ICS (Android 4.0), you can simply "freeze" bloatware you don't need. This means, you make them "unavailable" (or rather "un-executable") on your device -- which makes them invisible in the launcher, and stops them from being started in any way -- while being able to "unfreeze" them any time you feel the need. No root required anymore.
If you're not yet running ICS -- no way to really stop that without rooting your device. Then you have the choice to freeze or even completely remove the crap, e.g. with the excellent Titanium Backup -- which, as a "side-effect" (lol) gives you the possibility to make complete backups of all apps and their settings, and that even scheduled. And for cloud-lovers, TB has support for Dropbox built in as well...
Other non-root solutions are only half-hearted: Without root, you cannot uninstall the pre-loaded bloat, and you cannot stop it from being autmatically launched (yeah, some apps promise they can -- but they are just shooting them as soon as they start, so im some cases they start again and get shot again and... you don't want that. The only decent solution in this group I know of might be Autorun Manager which, in non-root mode, detects such "restarters" and then ignores them. In root-mode it also allows to disable listeners to really prevent apps from auto-starting -- which might be nice if you want to keep the app for rare uses, but do not want it to run automatically).
EDIT: Beware that rooting the device might void your warranty -- and removing system apps (wometimes already generally modifying the
/system partition, which is also done by "rooting" as it must place the
superuser.apk there) might prevent future "official OTA updates", as those often check the CRC sum of the
system partition -- which no longer matches after altering its content. This all does not apply to the "Freeze" of apps, of course -- at least not to the official ICS variant of it.