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When Pesky Programs Won't Go Away

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:\ Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup 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.

\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\RunServices

\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Run

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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