Tips and Information on how to properly maintain your Windows system.
Installing an application is an easy task for most users. But what about uninstalling? Do you know how to completely remove an application from your system? Did you know that most applications leave permanent files or registry entries on your system?
In order to keep your system clean, you need to properly install and uninstall applications. Correctly uninstalling an application can ensure that it will not cause you any problems in the future. The right way to uninstall software is definitely not the delete key. And it's not always the familiar Add/Remove Programs dialog. In many cases, you need to follow a series of steps in order to completely remove a program from your system.
Many applications tend to leave permanent files laying around on your hard disk. Your system does not need these files and so, apart from wasting space, sometimes they may adversely affect the performance of your system (e.g. an older version of a library may cause compatibility issues with newer applications).
On the other hand, there are also programs that leave useless registry entries on your Windows registry that can cause similar problems. Using the following Windows tools, however, will certainly help you in keeping your system cleaner and in better shape!
Add/Remove Programs: This is the familiar application you can find on your Control Panel. It is (obviously) the most important tool that you use to remove an application. It is primarily intended for applications that don't offer an Uninstall program on their own as we'll see below. Most of the times however, it can be safely used to uninstall these applications as well, since their own uninstall program will be started by the Add/Remove Programs dialog. It can be found at Start | Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs.
Uninstall Software: Many software applications offer their own uninstall program. It can usually be found inside the application folder on the start menu, just go to Start - Program X - Uninstall. Just because they exist, these uninstall programs doesn't mean they rid you of all the old and unnecessary files the application might leave behind or any of the registry entries.
Disk Cleanup: Although you will probably not see amazing gains in terms of speed and storage space, Disk Cleanup can help rid your PC of all kinds of useless files, temporary files or shortcuts. It can be found at Start | Programs | Accessories | Systems Tools | Disk Clean Up.
Program Files: It is often the case that removed applications don't delete the folders where their executable or other files used to live. Bear in mind, that this is not the only place an application may have "forgotten" some of it's files. If it was, things would be so much easier, but unfortunately many applications tend to place files inside the windows/system or other system directories and just leave them there. Still, it's a good idea to delete the empty folders you may find in the Program Files directory, which can be found at Start | My Computer | C: | Program Files.
Registry Editor: You can use your registry editor to search for entries created by an application you have decided to uninstall. Applications also hold uninstall information in the registry, so you should start searching and deleting registry entries only AFTER you have actually uninstalled the application. The registry editor does not exist anywhere in the start menu. You have to run it yourself. Just go to Start | Run and enter "regedit.exe" in the option box.
Alternatively, you can also use a registry cleaner, which is a software program specifically designed for cleaning up your registry.
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