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When Pesky Programs Won’t Go Away
By Stephen Bucaro
Are you a shareware junkie? Have you installed and removed
many programs from your computer? This can make your
computer take longer to start and run sluggish, or even
cause reoccurring error messages.
During installation a program copies files to the
applications folder, the Windows folder, and creates
entries in the registry. The problem is that when you
uninstall a program, it may leave behind pieces of itself
and entries in the registry. Your hard disk and registry
can become bloated.
To solve this problem, Microsoft licensed the Install
Shield software to establish a standard Install and
Uninstall procedure. When you install an application on
your computer it copies its own uninstall utility to your
hard drive. This Uninstall utility properly removes every
piece of the program and removes every entry that it made
in the registry.
If an application does not automatically install itself,
you can install it with the Add/Remove Programs utility in
Control Panel. When installing an application this utility
searches the application for a program named setup.exe.
Programs that comply with Microsoft’s logo requirement
provide a setup program that lists the application in the
Add/Remove Programs list and registers an uninstall utility.
To remove an application from your computer, use the
Add/Remove Programs utility. Just deleting the program
without using the Add/Remove Programs utility leaves behind
pieces of the application and entries in the registry.
Unfortunately sometimes the Add/Remove Programs utility
doesn’t work. Either the application didn’t register an
uninstall utility, or the uninstall utility is not at the
location indicated in the registry. Sometimes the uninstall
utility can’t remove all the pieces of the program because
they’re not at the location indicated in its uninstall log.
Some programs, particularly shareware programs, don’t list
themselves in the Add/Remove Programs list. To delete
these programs, first check for an uninstall utility in
the program’s Start menu, or in the program’s folder. If
none exists, drag the program’s folder to the Recycle Bin,
then restart your computer. If your computer restarts
without an error message, you can safely empty the program
from the Recycle Bin.
If you receive an error message when you restart your
computer, check the folder
c: WindowsStart MenuProgramsStartup
for a link to the program that you removed. If there is no
link, run the Registry Editor (Start | Run | regedit) and
check the following keys.
If you find an entry related to the error message that you
are receiving, carefully record that entry, or back up
your registry before deleting that entry. If there is no
entry in those registry keys, you may want to restore the
program’s folder from the Recycle Bin until you learn how
to dispose of it cleanly.
If you are not comfortable messing with the Windows
registry, you can purchase a commercial utility like
McAfee’s UnInstaller or Norton’s CleanSweep to do the job
for you. These utilities are experts at removing abandoned
program pieces and orphaned registry keys.
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