Software review: Perfect Uninstaller

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I was asked recently to do a review for a program called Perfect Uninstaller. The idea behind an Uninstaller program is this: sometimes when you remove a program from your computer, it sometimes doesn’t go away completely. It may leave behind bits and pieces of itself in the Registry and other virtual corners of your computer. An uninstaller removes a program, and at the same time looks for those little bits of data and gets rid of them also. At least that is what they are supposed to do.

The other reason for having an Uninstaller program is that some programs just don’t like to leave at all. Norton is notorious for this; you uninstall Norton in order to install a different program. It seems to go okay, but the other program won’t install because it thinks Norton is still there. If you try to uninstall Norton again, it says it is already uninstalled. So you are left in an “uninstall purgatory” with no apparent way out.

The program we are discussing today, Perfect Uninstaller, is available here. This is my experience with it.

I clicked the big green “Free Download” button and downloaded the installation file to my Download folder (the file is just a little over 2 mb). I double-clicked to run the installation, and the Uninstaller Setup Wizard guided me through the process of installing. Very much standard procedure if you have ever installed a program before.

I had a program I wanted to remove anyway, so I had it go through the uninstall process. Most of that was normal, just like what you would expect when you uninstall the normal way (Control Panel – Add/Remove Programs). However, there was an extra step involved – Perfect Uninstaller also scanned the Registry for any leftover entries, to make sure it was really all gone. It did give me the option to skip this, but this function is one of the primary reasons for using a program such as this, so I let it perform that function.

However…after about 30 minutes of searching the same folder, I did finally hit the Skip button.

This took it to the next step, which is to check the hard drive for any leftover files. That actually did take less than a minute. When that was done, I was presented with this screen:

I would have to say I at first found this to be a little confusing. Is it showing me this list of files so that I have the option of which ones I want to delete? Or is it just presenting me with the list of files that will be deleted when I hit Next? It is actually the latter, but an inexperienced user may not understand what to do at this point, or what the ramifications are if he/she clicks Next.

As you can see, the program found several Registry Keys but no actual files that would be left behind. I clicked Next. That’s when I got this window:

Ah, so I need to register it before I can actually uninstall anything. Okay, what the heck. I clicked Yes.

That took me to a website where I was instructed to enter my name, email and zip code. I did that, and clicked on the “Register”button.

That’s when I was given the wonderful opportunity to “pay” for the “Free Download”.

I don’t think so.

Nowhere on the front page of this program’s website is there any mention of any charge. On the contrary, the big download button has the word FREE on it. What is the user supposed to assume? That the program is free, of course.

If the company is deceitful in the beginning just to get me to download the program, how do I even know that the program itself is going to do what they say it will do? The misleading advertising is a tipoff that total honesty is not exactly their company policy.

Please note, I am not saying that I am against shareware. In fact, I think it is a great thing to be able to try out some software before you actually pay for it. What I think is crummy is making people believe that your program is free, when it really isn’t.

Now I need an uninstaller program to remove my uninstaller program. Hopefully Windows really does get rid of this one completely.

This week’s video: what would you do if you thought you were about to be hit by a falling tree? Well, you would run of course.

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ONG Eng Ju
August 25th, 2008

Dear Scott,

Many thanks for doing this review. You certainly have my gratitude!

I am as dismayed as you are that the company was not upfront about the fact that their software had to be paid for before it would actually uninstall anything, i. e., do any work.

I guess their flawed marketing strategy is to let their free download of the software show users what it has detected for removal in their mock uninstallation attempt. Users would then evaluate the program by comparing what it had detected for removal with what another similar program might come up with. Based on that comparison, the user might decide to *buy* the Simple Uninstaller program.

But this is definitely something only for extremely advanced users to contemplate. Mortal men such as myself wouldn’t have a clue what was going on. On the flip side, an extremely advanced user who wanted to be really cheap might run the *unpaid* version of the program, jot down all the list of things detected for removal, and then remove them manually somehow…

With regards
ONG Eng Ju

August 25th, 2008

I’ve done the same thing several times, Scott, thinking something was “free”, when it fact it was only downloaded “free”! So I finally came to the conclusion that the download doesn’t cost anything, but to use it, DOES cost!

Thanks for your assistance and information on your posts.

August 25th, 2008

My experience has been that the phrase “Free Download” is a pretty universal tip off that the product itself isn’t free.

October 17th, 2008

I just finished downloading the installer and decided, on a hunch, to do a quick search for any issues before I jumped in. Thanks a bunch for saving me the time!

Unfortunately, I have Norton residue all over my machine, and I’m really not looking forward to manually cleaning up that mess. 🙁

Scott Johnson
June 17th, 2009

Update: I found and reviewed a GREAT uninstaller program that really is free:

September 22nd, 2009

Is it piracy when something claims to be free and then asks you to pay but you instead find a serial code on google and use it to register…

Scott Johnson
September 22nd, 2009

The sites where you find codes such as that are usually where you can easily get a virus at the same time. I recommend staying out of those bad neighborhoods.

October 1st, 2009

Scott you are my hero! I used the really free uninstaller programme and I've finally been able to painlessly remove left over McAfee files – yipee! Thanks a million. Helen

January 24th, 2010

Thanks Scott. An honest review! I would like to add that even if you pay for Perfect Uninstaller (PU), you still do not get use of the software. I paid days ago and I still have not received the serial number so I can use the software. After I paid, PU was supposed to email the serial number to me. Instead, it sent me an email that was a receipt for my purchase. I sent an email through its online help stating that I never received my serial number, but I have yet to get a response. Also, my problem was one of the choices in its pull down menu so not receiving your serial number after payment must be common problem. At this point, I just want my money back but I am having problems with that… noone responds to my requests. However, someone took my money immediately. There are some sites on the internet, such as, where the reviewer defends the software which surprises me. I appreciate an honest reviewer like you Scott. I realize that I am venting, but I wanted to share my experience with PU in the hopes that no one else would get caught in its web.

January 3rd, 2011

Thank you Scott. I experience the same exact problem, this is very misleading, there should be a customer watchdog for this kind of fraud.

Frank Swanson
October 7th, 2011

I should have bailed at the point you did but I didn’t and as a result bought in…Here is what I found out….I went into the “find objects left behind area” and ran a scan…There were programs listed that I had removed by add/remove in windows…I thought great these are leftovers…So I went to each one and did the remove function, then a rebootI did this with three different programs, rebooting each time as requested, butt the entries from the leftover list were still there…When I fired up
Registry First Aid, a program I have been using for years, nothing was found in the registry because I had cleaned them out before, manually…There was a program I wanted to get rid of , so I picked it out of the program list and hit the uninstall button and hit the unknstall function….It took a few minutes…I looked in the add/remove list in windows and it was gone (the program), no Icons on desktop…I did a search all files and folders, two files found, 4 and 5 megs, not good…Entered the program name into RFA 55 entries came up on initial scan…I rebooted…Ran the RFA scan again and 34 entries came up which I checked for proper name and deletedand then did the overall scan, which I did before starting the uninstall, plus a restore point…Again the overall scan came up with 25entries…Then one last scan picked up one entry…I went through the Perrfect Uninstaller list of leftovers and there were programs listed that had never been on mu pc…TDhe program I uninstalled was not listed on the leftover list….My conclusion… Perfect Uninstaller does the same as windows add/remove and I believe the leftover list is salted with a bunch of fakes …The Program is a basic fake and doesn’t do as advertised…And they have a 100% money back guarntee but where do I get my 23.85 back…SCAM The program has been loaded 2 days….Any Ideas……PS Please forgive any typos as I am legally blind,,,Macular Degeneration