How to uninstall a program that doesn’t want to leave

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If you have a program on your computer that you don’t want to have on it, what do you do?  You just uninstall it, right?  Sure sounds simple enough.  Just go to Control Panel, to the list of Programs, find it in the list and uninstall it.  That would be nice if it always worked that way, but unfortunately some software just does not want to go away.  For those, we need a special tool which I’ll tell you about today.

Revo Uninstaller

 

If I have worked on your computer remotely, you may have seen me use this wonderful little program.  It’s been around for quite a while but not everyone knows about it.  It’s called Revo Uninstaller.  They offer a free version and a paid version.  You can compare the features and download either one here:
http://www.revouninstaller.com/revo_uninstaller_free_download.html

Personally, I have never purchased the paid version because the free one seemed to always be sufficient for what I needed.  Your needs may be different, but I would recommend trying the free one first and see if you need some of the other features that require a purchase.

Here’s an example of the kind of situation that requires the use of Revo Uninstaller:

Your computer came with McAfee antivirus pre-installed.  You’ve been paying for it year after year even though it’s a crappy program.  Finally you decide it’s time to switch to something better.  So you get the new antivirus program installed, and now it’s time to remove McAfee.  But when you try to uninstall it, there’s a glitch somewhere during the process and it gets hung up.

At this point, McAfee is sort of in “limbo” between being fully installed and being fully uninstalled.  This means if you try to uninstall it again, you’ll get an error message saying it’s already uninstalled.  But if you try to actually run it, you might get an error saying that it is not properly installed.  Frustrating!

This is where Revo Uninstaller comes in.  Just download the free version at the link above, and install it on your computer.  At the end of the installation it will give you the option to go ahead and run it.  When the program runs, the first thing it will show you is a list of the programs that are installed (or partly installed, as in the example above) on your computer:

Revo Uninstaller

 

Scroll through the list until you find the program that you want to remove, and then click the “Uninstall” button in the top row.

For this example, I am going to remove a little program called “TimeLeft” since I don’t use it any more.  When you choose to uninstall, you are presented with 4 options for how Revo will uninstall the program:

Revo Uninstaller

 

Each of those 4 levels runs at a different “depth” – the first one is just the basic uninstall that comes with the program itself, and the Advanced one will do that plus a thorough check of the registry for any “crumbs” that the program leaves behind.  I always choose the Advanced option.

The program will then go through the “standard” uninstall process like you would normally see:

Revo Uninstaller

 

When that’s done, you click Next.  The program then starts to scan your hard drive for anything else the program left behind:

Revo Uninstaller

 

If the program was fully uninstalled at this point, you will see this:

Revo Uninstaller

 

However, if the uninstallation was not 100% successful,  Revo will find some bits and pieces that it left behind.  That’s when you will be presented with a window that has some entries such as this:

Revo Uninstaller

 

In fact, you might see a long window with a LOT of entries like that.  What you want to do is put a check mark in each box that is next to a word in bold.  Those are the registry entries that are part of the program you are trying to get rid of.  Why did they not get deleted as part of the basic removal process?  I don’t know.  But there they are.

When you check those boxes, there will be the option at the bottom of the window to delete/remove the ones  you have selected.  You want to remove those.  Then it might come up with a more standard list of items, which you will also want to remove.  Finally, you will probably have to restart the computer in order to finalize the uninstallation of the program.   After that restart, it should be completely gone.

You might never need to use Revo Uninstaller.  I’ve used it quite a few times because of the nature of my work, so I’m very familiar with it.  If you are uncomfortable or feel unsure about using it, then you probably shouldn’t use it.  I think they’ve done a good job of making it user-friendly, but it still might be beyond the skill set of some computer users.

At the very least, before you do anything like this, you should set a restore point so that you have something to come back to if things go haywire.  Or contact me, and I’ll do the whole thing for you remotely.

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Louise
April 7th, 2014

Scott, do you know if this would work with windows update 8.1 program? I have it as my security on one of my laptops and can NOT get it to update anymore, tried everything I know and it just will NOT work !!!!

Scott Johnson
April 7th, 2014

Revo can be installed and used on a Windows 8.1 computer, but you wouldn’t use it to uninstall Windows 8.1. I would have to see your computer to get a better idea of what is actually happening.

Louise
April 7th, 2014

I didn’t word that last post correctly. I meant could I uninstall the windows security because it won’t update anymore. Sorry for the confusion.

Scott Johnson
April 7th, 2014

This is why I would need to see it to be sure. “Windows Security” is a generic term and I’m not sure what program you are referring to specifically. If you are talking about the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus, then yes – you could use Revo to uninstall that (but I have never had a problem with Security Essentials being removed).