Tips for Removing Unwanted Programs on Your PC


Windows laptop

What is uninstaller software, and why would you occasionally need to utilize it?

If you are reading this post, you might already know the answer: to remove annoying little applications that don’t appear in Windows’ ADD/REMOVE power or sneaky spyware applications that install themselves without your agreement and are difficult to remove via traditional uninstall methods. Apart from driving you insane, these files can cause a variety of issues, such as error messages appearing continuously (e.g. rundll32 errors, runtime errors).

This is one of the reasons that standalone third-party uninstaller programs exist. In an ideal world, there shouldn’t be any reason for such programs to exist. However, there are producers that create excellent products with exceptional characteristics but unfortunately lack improvement and assessment methods in the uninstaller area.

There are methods to uninstall and remove unwanted applications, but I want to stress that you shouldn’t simply remove these files from your computer’s program files area without trying the uninstall function of the program. You might unintentionally delete system files that are utilized by several systems. If you cannot locate an uninstall function or the program does not appear in the Windows ADD/REMOVE list (which is for advanced computer users only), you can access the Windows registry, where you will find information records associated with the unwanted software. However, it is best to avoid the registry, and instead, take advantage of one of the many uninstaller programs available if you are an advanced user. This kind of system has been specially created to help with the uninstallation of “difficult-to-remove programs.”

These makers do not always understand that their application causes significant changes to the OS, through file links or file replacements, and if these changes are not logged in a log file during the installation process, it might be very difficult to change them when you need to uninstall or remove some unwanted software. It might even put you in a position where you have no other option but to format your drive and reinstall Windows or whatever operating system you are using because of the uncertainty of your OS due to files that have been erased (possibly accidentally, possibly). If, like me, you have lots of applications and documents that you have accumulated over an extended amount of time, perhaps decades, and you have no backups, then it can truly be a catastrophe that could set you back for some time.

Here are several basic recommendations for what makes a good uninstaller.

A good third-party uninstaller should contain the following components:

A logger: This is just a program that creates all installation modifications to a logfile – i.e., files that were added and/or changed, as well as registry entries, etc. (you may have tried to uninstall a program and get an error message stating “record not found.” The record mentioned maybe this particular program’s logfile access at the time of installation. Without that data, the uninstallation of that program becomes a significant daunting task.)

An uninstaller: the program reads the log file (when there is one), noting the system modifications, and proceeds to change these changes during a software uninstallation, hence the uninstaller label.

Essentially what the program does is, if no logfile exists, it reads the Windows registry for records and several records associated with the program in question and goes on to remove these documents and remains that have been found.

A viewer: After installing the uninstaller program, the viewer can automatically trigger whenever its installer program runs. This is particularly helpful in cases of browser or spyware hijacking software that periodically starts to send data or trigger a pop-up advertisement.

Very important: Always select an uninstaller software with a built-in logger.

Most of these programs were created when the idea of an uninstall program was not even conceived. Imagine having to do this today.

An uninstaller software is worth it if it’s able to complete all of the following:

  • Completely check the registry for any files associated with the applications you intend to uninstall.
    Allow you to choose which files you wish to remove.
  • Intentionally remove programs that do not have an uninstall option—for example, specific spyware or pop-up ads (such as Windows hijackers).
  • Back up your registry and create a restore point before initiating any changes, such as uninstalling specific applications. This will allow you to undo these changes by restoring a saved version of the registry.
  • Identify startup programs, such as autodial spyware, advertising popup programs, popup blockers, and Windows dialers. These programs may then be removed.
  • Provide outstanding product support as well as an auto-update function, which might typically be missing on the free software versions.

An uninstaller software is exactly what the name suggests. A registry cleaner is simply that—a program that cleans up any free and scattered orphan records, finds unnecessary registry entries and fixes broken links. Though they might have similar features, both tools have completely different architectures and are mainly suited for specific tasks.

Your system is a complex and very delicate part of your OS. By delicate, I mean that you don’t want to mess around inside it yourself! Any random file removal or improper location could cause your system to become completely unstable, resulting in DLL errors, CD-ROM errors, exe or runtime errors, etc. This may mean a complete reinstallation of your OS. Instead, invest in a good uninstaller program.

Based on my experience, when I was researching how to remove these annoying applications, I quickly discovered that instead of creating more problems for myself by trying to do it myself (these uninstallations), it was better to invest in a good uninstaller program. This way, if the program did not do what it was supposed to do, I could blame someone else.

Remember: Always use the appropriate software for the job. Don’t just remove system files in the program files section! Different applications may use some of these files, and just removing them could cause your OS to become unbootable and unstable. Instead, use the regular uninstall function, and if this is not possible, you should invest in an uninstaller program.