A More Thorough Method to Uninstall Your Programs

Nothing is perfect. Ever heard that phrase before? I’m sure you have. It’s one of the main reasons why technology is evolving at such a high rate. Companies want to create that perfect product that everyone will love. The product will be bug free and never need an update. Well, I’m sure you’ve already figured out that idea is not going to happen anytime soon. But let’s take that train of thought and apply it specifically to the software we install and use on our computers. When a software gets installed onto our operating system, a lot of things happen in the background. Many files will find a new home on our hard drives and many registry settings and values will be created. Even a program or utility that you thought was basic can have many complex instructions to be run when you want it to do something. Just because a program is easy enough for everyone to use doesn’t mean it can’t be as complex as other programs behind the scenes. So what does this have to do with anything? Well, consider what happens whenever you uninstall a program. If files get added during the installation process, shouldn’t all those files get deleted during the uninstallation stage? In a perfect world, yes, that’s what should happen. But in many cases it doesn’t, as our world is anything but perfect.

LeftoversThe next question you should be asking is why in the world should you care? My answer, although it may sound weird at first, is that you don’t. When many applications get uninstalled, they usually leave behind some traces of evidence that they were there. These “evidences” are usually configuration files, uninstallers, or more common things such as registry files. Can they cause harm to your computer? That depends on who you ask. Some users believe that over time, all of these leftover garbage can inevitably slow down your computer and can even cause instability. Others tend to believe that these files are nothing more than just garbage. Sure, these files are sitting on your hard drive without being of any use to you but they generally don’t cause you any harm as they are not being used by any programs. I usually lean towards the latter way of thinking. Throughout all my years using a PC, I was never really a fan of those so called “registry cleaners” that aims to remove junk and unused files within your registry. For those times that I have tried them, they left my PC in a worst state after the cleanup then before.

So now that I think on it, why not try and remove those leftover files after or during each uninstallation of a program? This way I can get rid of only the junk files left behind by that offending application and hopefully nothing else. Why is this important? As I’ve mentioned above, many of these leftover files are usually registry files and settings. The registry plays a vital role to your system’s overall health, stability and pretty much everything else that makes your computer tick. When you remove registry files that are crucial to your system, you’re going to be in one big world of hurt. When you rely on registry cleaning applications to scour your registry for unwanted files, you’re basically gambling each and every time because in almost all cases, the users have no idea what registry files are important and which are not so they usually just delete everything the application reports back as unwanted. Sometimes this work and sometimes it doesn’t.

IObit Uninstaller

Many applications and programs come with their own uninstaller. You normally would open this executable or in most cases, go to the Windows Programs and Features link in Control Panel, when you want to uninstall the program you no longer want. These uninstallers are the one’s that leave behind the leftover trash. We need a more powerful utility to help us dig deeper into what a application leaves over after an uninstall. There are many such utilities that perform this feature but the one I will be talking about here is called IObit Uninstaller (IOU). How the tool works is simple. When launched, IOU will serve as a replacement for the control panel’s Programs and Features app. All installed applications on your system is listed. You can then select one or multiple programs to uninstall at the same time. IOU will first actually use the default uninstaller for the application. Once that process finishes, it will allow you to do what they call a “Powerful Scan” in which it will search for any files left over by that application only and allow you to delete them.

You can download IObit Uninstaller from here.

Test Environment:

I will be testing this experiment inside a virtual machine consisting of a clean Windows 7 installation. This default snapshot is clean of any malware and basically consist of only a antivirus application (which will be turned off here), Firefox and a couple of other minor tools and utilities. The virtual machine is clean and minimalistic, trust me. I chose to use FormatFactory as the test application because it installs many files since it is considered a universal multimedia converter. Therefore, many codecs and whatnot will need to be installed to our system. With so many files being installed, how good of a job will the default uninstaller perform against IOU?  While FormatFactory is far from being the most complicated application out there, the main point is to show you that IObit Uninstaller will hunt down files that the application leaves behind even after a default uninstall. The registry snapshot utility I use is called Regshot. After comparing snapshots with the default uninstall, I will revert my virtual machine back to the default snapshot I started out with and proceed again with the IObit uninstall process. Doing so help provides for the best results as each install and uninstall of the application is tested under the same environment.

Important Reminder! I’ve mentioned before that you really don’t want to play around with registry files. That area of the system should always be managed automatically by your computer and you don’t need to stick your nose in. With IObit Uninstaller, you are still sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong as you’re still deleting registry files. Some could argue that the default installers leave traces of files and registry settings even after a uninstall for a reason. By using IOU to forcefully scrub those files may have ill effects. Why I recommend using IOU over other more broad registry cleaners is because IOU works during a uninstallation of a program. Because it looks only for leftover files and settings used or installed by that application alone, there is a smaller chance of you erasing some other crucial file. Well, at least that’s how its suppose to be. Luckily, IOU helps you create a restore point prior to a uninstall process. If your system seems to act weird after using the Powerful Scan feature of IOU, you can easily then easily revert back to the restore point. If you’re still not sure of what I’m trying to say up until this point, then I’ll make it simple for you: USE THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Scenario Rundown:

  1. Install FormatFactory application
  2. Capture registry snapshot #1
  3. Uninstall using default executable
  4. Capture registry snapshot #2 and compare with snapshot #1
  5. Revert virtual machine back to original snapshot
  6. Install FormatFactory application
  7. Capture registry snapshot #3
  8. Uninstall using IObit Uninstaller in Advance mode
  9. Capture registry snapshot #4 and compare with snapshot #3
  10. Compare registry differences between first and second uninstall

Default Uninstall

OK, so first I’ll proceed with the installation of FormatFactory. I then use Regshot to capture the registry settings that’s in place after the install. Once that’s done, I proceeded to uninstall FormatFactory with the default uninstaller for the application. This is done in the control panel’s Programs and Features app. Once that has completed, I immediately took a second registry snapshot. This second snapshot will then be compared with the first to see how many registry files have been deleted by the default uninstaller app. The result was 592 keys and 1188 values deleted.

You have to understand that capturing registry before and after snapshots is very difficult to get accurate. Even if your computer is idle, registry files will still get manipulated and modified. I’ve tried my best in this experiment to capture the snapshots as fast as possible in hopes to get the most accurate results. However, please understand that they are not 100% accurate.

Page 2: IObit Uninstaller and Toolbar Removals –>

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Comments

  1. I use default uninstaller and tune up utilities for clean up of left up junk. this also sounds good technique of uninstallation. 

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