How to Uninstall a Program

One of the most common problems I encounter as a trouble-shooter is solving the problems improperly uninstalled program create.  Today, most modern programs are not just copied form the floppy or CD-Rom to the hard-drive, they are "installed" onto the drive.  The install program that comes with the program knows where the files it needs to operate belong, and creates the directories where they should go, then copies them there. The install program usually opens a system file, called the Registry, and makes some entries in it. Just deleting the files usually doesn't get them all, and it does not get the entries out of the Registry.  Only the programmer or company representative, who designed the uninstall program, knows where the pieces and entries into the registry are.

When I am ready to uninstall a program I first go to: "Start"  -> Settings -> Control Panel, then click on Add/Remove Programs. In the window that opens up, one will see three tabs. The "Install/Uninstall" tab is the one that should be selected. In that tab, one will see a large, white box on the bottom.  By scrolling up and down in the box one should see the name of the program that is desired to be uninstalled.  If it is found, click on it, then click on the "Add/Remove" button across the bottom.  Depending on the program, it may ask different questions.  I can't help you out with the answers, because each program will be different. Usually the questions are self-explanatory. It should take all the components out.

If the program that is desired to be removed, is not listed in "Add/Remove", go to the "Start" -> "Programs", and then find the menu listing for your program. Look for a feature declaring "Uninstall". Click it if it is available, it will take the necessary components out of the program. Some argue that it is best to use the manufacturer-supplied uninstall version first.  I agree it makes more sense to use theirs first, but I have had more problems with them, then I have with the Microsoft supplied uninstall feature.

Now, what do you do if none of the uninstall features mentioned above are available?  I suggest going to the program manufacturers Web-site  and search it looking for uninstall instructions.  Sometimes they have one available. Perhaps a telephone call or E-mail would also produce the much-needed list.

Oh, oh - no list!  What do I do now? This is the last measure, but unfortunately, for some it is the first.  Go to the directories where the components you know about exist and delete them.  If you don't know what a directory is, please do not read any further, because I sense trouble on the horizon!  I do not recommend this step, especially for beginners, because you may delete the wrong files and you will only delete a portion of the files.

Remember, they are usually in multiple directories.  Many times they are in a "common" directory that is shared by many programs (as: c:\Windows\System - NEVER delete that directory!).  When you are done deleting, reboot the computer. When it starts it will start some system files that may reference the programs you deleted. That's where one oculd get some dirty message about "..can't find ...." something or other. One can go to the startup files, if they know what they are and are confident to maneuver in them, and delete the reference.  If you don't want to touch those startup files with a ten foot pole, go to the recycle bin, click on the files and/or deleted, and click on the bin's "File", then click on Restore. This should put them back to where you found them. 

Understand, that when programs are removed manually, that the uninstall features mentioned above probably will not work, as a missing component "confuses" them, and they quit.  That's why I said do the manual uninstall only as a last resort.