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Do Uninstallers Uninstall?

The uninstallers that come with Windows programs are, for the most part, notoriously sloppy. A typical application’s installer will sink its talons deep into Windows. Then the uninstaller clips those talons, leaving them in the operating system’s wounded flesh.

The result: Windows develops new problems with almost every install and uninstall. That’s a large part of the reason why so many people reinstall Windows and start from scratch every year or two.

(It’s worth noting that using Control Panel’s Add or Remove Programs feature, called Programs and Features in Vista, won’t help. All that does is launch the program’s own uninstaller.)

But a lawsuit? I doubt it. If there was any danger of that, we would have heard of these lawsuits, already. Besides, the lawyers could remove any danger with a clause in the EULA (the end-user licensing agreement–that impenetrable legalize you must agree to with a click before the program installs).

So what can you do? Use a program like Revo Uninstaller or Total Uninstall. They run the application’s own uninstaller, then clean up the mess that the uninstaller left behind. They’re not perfect, but they get most of the junk. Each has advantages over the other. Revo is free, and there’s a portable version that you don’t have to install. Total costs $30, but it supports 64-bit programs (not an issue if you don’t have a 64-bit computer) and has a better user interface.

See the original forum discussion here.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

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