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uninstalling programs


elephant3823
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Many times when I have computer problems I go to ask leo and he has great advise. One of the things he mentioned was a program called revo uninstaller. There is a free version and a paid version. I have the paid version but for what I need the free version would have sufficed. It totally removes programs, every last nook and cranny. Would highly recommend to anyone.

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I beg to differ. It doesn't look in every nook and cranny. I've always been the opinion that uninstallers are very situational: one may want to try them if an uninstallation has failed or was incomplete and one needs to find the remains and clean them manually. In that situation an uninstaller might come in handy. However, for everyday use I find these uninstallers to be useless.

Uninstallers use one of two methods: 1) they launch the original uninstallation and after that scan for leftovers or 2) the new application is installed through the uninstaller so that it can record what files/folder and registry keys/values are created, so that the uninstallation can be much more complete.

The first method is a lot simpler and is present in every uninstaller. The second method is more advanced so only few uninstallers have it, and those are the paid ones. Both methods have downsides.

The first method is limited to scanning those folders and registry locations that the author deems necessary. Also, the uninstaller uses the program's name as a search string. However, if the program hasn't used its name to create its folders and registry entries, but instead has used the company name (for example), then the uninstaller would fail to spot and clean them. Also, the first method can't restore changed or deleted registry values, it can only find added entries. So, this method is not a very good one to completely clean an installation and it relies a lot on the application's own uninstallation to do most of the work. However, if the original uninstallation does the job well, then additional steps are unnecessary.

The second method is generally more reliable but could also backfire. Some applications may add files and/or registry entries during installation but may intentionally not remove them during uninstallation. The application's uninstaller might be programmed to leave certain things on the system. If the user is using an uninstaller with the second method, then the uninstaller will not know to leave those files/registry entries behind. Depending on the situation the consequences may vary from none to very nasty. I'll give an example. I have made a specific codec pack based on my needs. When installed on Windows XP it replaces the existing MP3 decoder with a newer version, but doesn't remove it during uninstallation because then the system would be left without an MP3 decoder, and it also doesn't restore the old decoder because the newer one is better. It acts like a patch/update. However, a 3rd party uninstaller (like Revo) using the second method will see the file being replaced and will remove it during uninstallation, leaving the system without a DirectShow MP3 decoder.

In other words: the author of a given application (should) know(s) how to clean after its creation, which files/registry entries to remove, which to leave behind, etc.

Still, if an uninstaller gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, then use it, but to my experience they are not nearly as effective as the vendors and many users make them out to be.

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