OK. So some add-on software snuck onto your system or you intentionally installed some application that promised – among other things – to make the trains run on time and revamp the postal system but instead turned out to be a real turkey. You’re tired of all the pop-ups, ads, consumption of available memory and you’re wondering just what sort of information it’s phoning home to the mother ship. In fine, you want it outta here. Now!

The standard procedure is to:

1. Go to your system’s control panel. It’s on the menu brought up by clicking the “Start” button. (Clicking on the image below will show a full-size version of the screen capture.)

2. Select “Programs and Features” from the Control Panel items.  (Clicking on the image below will show a full-size version of the screen capture.)

3. Select the bit of software that you want to rid your system of.  (Clicking on the image below will show a full-size version of the screen capture.)

4. Right-click on your selection and then click “Uninstall” from the pop-up menu. (Clicking on the image below will show a full-size version of the screen capture.)

5. The uninstall routine will run and while you may have to restart your PC to complete the uninstall, you should be good to go. Right??

6. Wrong!!

Software installation packages will add either a custom uninstaller or rely on the bog-standard Windows software removal utility but quite often, these tools don’t quite do the necessary job of removing all traces of the application you wish to be rid of. Instead, these tools will often leave files, folders, registry entries or DLL’s behind. It’s the last item that is the most problematic as they can remain months or years after the software application has been removed. They will be loaded every time your system starts thus prolonging your boot time and using precious bits of memory. Registry Entries are the next most worrisome remnant and your registry should be purged of all entries relating to the software at the time it is uninstalled. Files and Folders are, for the most part, junk that clutters your HDD or SSD.

So how do you get rid of this detritus?

The best solution is to use a stand-alone uninstaller.  These applications can be used in place of the Uninstall option in your control panel’s Programs and Features tool. They work by first identifying all instances of installed software on your system. Once you select an application to be removed, the Uninstaller will either run the custom uninstallation package or use its own routines to remove the software. It will then scour your system for the leftover items mentioned above and remove them as well. The depth and thoroughness of  this second step depends on the stand-alone uninstaller itself, which options – if any – you select and whether you’re using a free/trial-ware version or the full-featured paid version.

Dr. Data has not one, not two but three stand-alone uninstallers on his system. The reason for this was (1) evaluation and (2) uninstaller A may not always find all the installed software that uninstaller B does and vice-versa. Recently, Dr.Data had to uninstall some back-up software and it was not located by the first two stand-alone uninstallers. Fortunately, the third one found the back-up software and thus saved the day.

Dr. Data can recommend all three stand-alone uninstallers and they are listed in the order of (slight) preference:

  1. Revo Uninstaller
  2. Your Uninstaller
  3. Advanced Uninstaller

While they may have differing features they are all good and get the job done. Unlike Dr. Data, most folks will only need one and they will usually cost somewhere between $19 & $40. (There are some free versions out there but they usually have limited functionality.) The only thing that you need to do is to use it!

It never ceases to amaze Dr. Data how folks will resist shelling out a few bucks for a useful tool and yet on a Fri. night, they’ll drop $30 or $40 bucks for drinks at the pub without even thinking twice. Then, they will wind up paying Dr. Data $60 or more to clean out their unwanted application clutter. Perhaps he needs to open a bar as a sideline.


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