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Uninstalling Software

You may need to uninstall files for a whole number of reasons including lack of space on your hard drive or simply because you have a profound dislike for a certain program. Whatever your reasons, it is important to understand that the way to remove software is not simply a case of finding the folder in Windows Explorer or the Start Menu and hitting the Delete option. Although it seems to be the obvious solution, you will find that remnants of the software will crop up in strange locations and or the computer will start to operate in an erratic manner. Messages and errors may even disrupt your PC usage and references to the deleted program will haunt you!

This is because during the installation process, files and folders will be placed in predefined locations determined by the software writer so that the program will be able to function properly. By deleting some but not all of these files will generally cause problems when the program tries to access data that is no longer there. Imagine cutting off your big toe. Who would ever think that such a small part helps control balance and stability? Now try to walk. Fallen over? We warned you!

Always treat your PC with respect. There are ways remove programs properly so stick to them and you should avoid potential problems.

Before you remove a program, make sure you have the original setup disks in case you want to reinstall it in the future.

Step 1

There are usually 2 way to remove a program. The first port of call is to look in the Start Menu as some applications will include an Uninstall option. By clicking this, you will launch the unInstallationShield which is a step by step program to completely remove the application from your computer.

Step 2

Once the unInstallShield is activated, it will ask if you are sure you want to remove the application. This is a safeguard to prevent the program from uninstalling every time this option is clicked accidentally in the Start Menu.

Step 3

After selecting Yes to uninstall you will be taken through a process which lasts up to a couple of minutes depending on the size of the application, the speed of your CPU etc. The process is usually quite automated although you may be asked a few simple questions. One stage which is quite important is a confirmation to delete certain files. These are usually files which are associated with the program being uninstalled and considered "orphans" if left on the PC. Unless you are completely sure of the functionality of the file to be removed, it is best to say No and leave the file there. This is because Windows is poor in determining whether the file in question is actually used by another program in which case its removal may be disastrous. However, most files are not shared.

Step 4

If there isn't an uninstall option in the Start Menu you will need to use the Add/Remove Programs function. This is in Start Menu > Settings > Control Panel.

Double click it and you will see a dialogue box listing all the installed programs on your PC in alphabetical order. Select the program you want to uninstall and hit the Add/Remove button. An uninstall wizard will walk you through the process as in Step 2 and 3.

Step 5

The majority of programs will now be cleanly uninstalled but there may be some remnants. Badly written or unusual programs will leave their marks on your PC that need to be manually removed such as:

  • Shortcuts in the Start Menu
    Right click the Start button and Explore the contents. Go to the required folder in the Explorer Window and delete it. E.g. Uninstalling "Software 2001" from your PC may leave a folder in the Start Menu called "Software 2001." This will contain shortcuts to the application but as the application is no longer there it would be possible to highlight the folder and delete it.
  • Highest scores for games
    Quite often, uninstalling a game does not remove all components as the manufacturers anticipate that you may wish to reinstall in the future. Thus, files containing parameters such as highest scores and player profiles may remain on your hard drive. To remove these completely from your PC after uninstalling, you will need to navigate to the application folder (usually in Program Files) and delete it manually. Using the previous example, you would need to look for a folder called "Software 2001"
  • PC configuration software
    Certain kinds software available today are not applications as such but configuration parameters for PC components. In short this can be illustrated by the Freeserve internet access software. Rather than installation a functional application, this software will "re-program" certain parts of your computer like modem settings and icon displays in Internet Explorer. This is a much more complicated process to describe as it varies greatly depending on what needs to be uninstalled. The most comprehensive descriptions should be found on the manufacturers website or associated manuals.

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