Forget Windows’ add/remove programs, there are free programs out there that can do a much better job uninstalling programs, cleaning up afterwards, and/or removing programs in batch.
This article presents three handy free programs designed to remove installed applications from your system: Appremover (uninstalls security applications), PC Decrapifier (removed preinstalled crapware), and Revo Uninstraller (cleans up after uninstalling).
All three are portable (or, in the case of Revo, have a portable version available).
1- Appremover: uninstalls security applications
Have you ever uninstalled a security application only to discover that related files/folders/registry entries still remain on your computer? For some reason (I cannot put my finger on) this is actually not uncommon when uninstalling various antivirus and security apps. I remember uninstalling Norton AV many (many) years ago only to find traces of it all over my PC; at the time I used a free “Remove Norton” type app that did the job of really removing it completely. Appremover is similar, except it is not simply Norton specific and uninstalls a wide range of security programs.
2- PC Decrapifier: uninstalls many pre-installed trialware/shareware/crapware programs that come pre-installed on PC – in batch.
This one came out a couple of years ago and has become an indispensable part of my repertoire of tools whenever I work on a brand new computer (or, occasionally, when I work on Friends’ computers). PC Decrapifier supports a database of trialware programs and/or programs that come pre-installed on many brand name PCs. This database is constantly being updated, so always update or get the latest version of this program from its website when you need to use it.
One thing to note, however, is that there may be some programs on the list that you *may* not want to uninstall, so make sure that you browse the list of apps it found on your computer and uncheck anything you would like to keep before you run. Be especially careful if you’ve bought a license for a program whose trial version typically comes installed on new PCs (e.g. Adobe Reader,
PC Decrapifier is free for personal use, for commercial use you need to purchase a license. Paid version includes
3- Revo Uninstaller: to say that this one is a replacement for Microsoft’s inbuilt Add/Remove is an understatement; it’s Add/Remove’s distant cousin who discovered a cure for cancer and now spends his time securing medical supplies to needy kids in the third world (when he’s not writing a freeware blog, that is ).
What do you do if a program does not have an installer in Add/Remove? Look for an installer in it’s “Start Menu” entries first thing, then look in the program folder for an executable that looks like an uninstaller (something like uninstall.exe or unwise.exe). If you don’t find one then point Revo to the app (in hunter mode) and select uninstall; it will remove the program and all associated files from the hard drive and will most likely clean all traces of it in the registry (I’ve done this on occasion with good results). Note: Revo will also uninstall .NET Framework, Java.
Revo’s attraction is its combination of form and function; where form is concerned, the program looks pretty and will let you filter your list by typing something in, will let you sort by the date column (or any other column) in detail view, and will display your list of installed programs as icons, which looks really good.
But the function part is even better; Revo will look for and clean all traces of the program on the hard drive and in the registry. It offers 3 uninstall modes (safe, moderate, and advanced), whereby the user can set the level of aggressiveness that Revo will use when looking for traces. I always use “Moderate” scan, and can report that in over a year of usage it has always performed admirably; consistently finding and cleaning up leftover files and registry items and never removing any entries it shouldn’t have or otherwise causing any problems. I will recommend, however, that you always take a look at the list of registry entries slated for deletion, especially if uninstalling an app that has a very similar name to another app on your machine (e.g. app 1 is named “file split and merge”, whilst app 2 is named “split and merge files” or “Bob’s file split and merge”).
Links to program pages: