What is an uninstaller program and why do you sometimes need to use it?
Well, if you’re reading this article, you may know the answer already? Yes, to remove those pesky little programs, that does not appear in windows’ ADD/REMOVE utility. Or those sneaky spy ware programs, that, having installed itself on your computer, without your permission, proves almost impossible to remove via the conventional uninstall methods. As well as those programs, where the program manufacturer, after you got to uninstall the unwanted programs, intentionally left behind myriads of scattered files, which may either act as hidden spy ware, collecting data unobtrusively, or frequently causing pop-up messages, which warns you of virus infections, every 60 seconds and prompting you to download additional software, from a particular site. Aside from driving you crazy, these files can cause all sorts of problems, such as error messages popping up constantly i.e. runtime errors, rundll32 errors etc.
Now this is one of the reasons, that Stand Alone Third Party Uninstaller Programs exists. In a Perfect world, there shouldn’t be any reason for such programs to be around. However, there are those manufacturers, that creates great products ,with excellent features and properties, but sadly, the big let down comes with the uninstaller section. This is the section, that not enough development and testing resources are spend on. These manufacturer’s don’t always realize that there software causes major changes to the operating system, through file associations and / or file replacements, and if these changes are not logged in a log file, during the installation process, it may prove very difficult to reverse these changes , when you wish to uninstall or remove some unwanted program. It may even put you in a spot, where you have no other alternative, because of the instability of your operating system, caused by files which were deleted ( maybe accidentally, perhaps), to format your hard drive and re-install windows or whatever operating system you’re using. If , like me, you have a lot of files and programs, which you’ve accumulated over a long period of time, possibly years, and you have no backups, then it can really be a disaster which can set you back for some time.
There are ways and means to manually uninstall and remove unwanted programs, but let me emphatically stress : Do Not Simply Delete These Files From Your Computer’s Program files section, without having tried using the program’s uninstall function. You may unknowingly delete system files that are used by more than one program. If you cannot find an uninstall function, or if the program does not appear in the windows Add/Remove list,– and this is for advanced PC users only,– you may access the windows registry, where you will find data entries, related to the unwanted program. However, I suggest you stay away from the registry, even if you are an advance user, and rather make use of one of the many uninstaller programs out there. This type of program has been specifically developed to assist with the uninstallation of “hard to remove programs”.
Here are a few general guidelines, to what makes a good uninstaller.
A good third party uninstaller usually consist of the following parts :
A logger : This is simply a program that writes all installation changes to a log file – i.e. files that were added and /or changed, as well as registry entries etc. ( You may have tried to uninstall a program and getting and error” log not found”. The log referred to, is the log file entry of that particular program at the time of installation. Without that information, uninstallation of that program becomes quite a daunting task )
An Uninstaller : This program reads the log file (if there is a log), noting the system changes, and proceeds to reverse these changes during a program uninstallation, hence the uninstaller tag.
An Analyzer : Not all uninstall programs incorporate an analyzer. Basically what this program does, is, if no log file exists, it scans the windows registry for all entries and traces relating to the program in question, and then proceed to delete those files and remnants, which were found.
A Watcher : After installation of the uninstaller program, the watcher will automatically activate every time a program run its installer program. This is especially useful in cases of spy ware or browser hijacking software, which will start occasionally, to send information, or activate a pop-up banner. In this case the Watcher will log this and allow the computer user to uninstall such applications.
Very important : Always, and I cannot stress it enough–Select an uninstaller program, with a build-in logger module. That way, if you need to uninstall those dastardly unwanted program you’ve installed the day before, and which is causing your computer to behave like C-3PO ( LOL – the Star Wars Android robot ) , then you don’t need to panic, because getting rid of it, is now very easy.
Prior to 1992, when Jack Bicer, who worked for Symantec, created the original uninstall idea, computer users frequently, had to completely uninstall their computer operating system ( formatting the hard drive) and re-installing, to get rid of unwanted programs. Most of these programs were written when the idea of an uninstall program, were not even conceived at the time. Imagine still having to do that nowadays.
Now any good, uninstaller program, should be able to do most of the following :
Thoroughly scan the registry for any files related to the programs you wish to uninstall.
” Allow you the option to choose which files you want to delete.
” Forcibly remove programs that do not have an uninstall option-such as certain spy ware or pop-up banners ( such as browsers hijackers).
” Back up your registry before activating any changes i.e uninstalling certain programs and then find finding your system becoming unstable after the installation. This will allow you to reverse these changes, by installing a saved version of your registry.
” Monitor running programs to detect start-up programs, such as auto dial spy ware, banner popup programs, pop up blocker and browsers dialers. These applications can then immediately be removed.
” Auto update function as well as excellent product support may often be lacking on the free software versions. You got it for free, didn’t you?
A quick word of advice.. .. An uninstaller program is what the name implies. It uninstalls or remove unwanted programs.. A registry cleaner is just that.–A program that mops up any loose and scattered orphan files, finding broken links and redundant registry entries. Although they may have similarities, the two utilities have totally different architectures, and are mostly suitable for one particular job.
As to my experience, at the time, while I was conducting my own research as to how to remove these annoying programs, I quickly found, that, instead of causing myself more hardship over and over again, by trying to do it myself ( these uninstallations), it was best to invest in a good uninstaller program. That way, if the software didn’t do what it was supposed to do, I could yell at someone else.