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Removing Traces of Old Software

Throughout the life of your computer, you will install and uninstall many different software programs. Some programs that you install you will forget you even have. Some software that you remove will leave little bits and pieces behind that you may not even know about.

Add Or Remove Programs.....Not Enough
The easiest way to remove programs is from the Add Or Remove Programs applet. You simply select the program you wish to remove and click to remove it. Magically it will be removed from your computer.

However, a good portion of the time this method of removal does not remove every file that is related to the program. Most likely there will be temporary files, data files, DLLs (dynamic-link libraries) files, and other items that may be left on your computer. To ensure maximum optimization of your computer, as much of this clutter should be removed as possible.

Why are some files left behind?
When you install a program, the installer makes a log of all of the files it installs. when you remove the program, the uninstaller reads that log file and removes only the files listed. If the uninstaller can not locate the log file, the program can't be removed properly. If additional files have been added to the program's folders, those files and the folders they live in will not be removed either.

Where are files normally stored?
Many files are normally stored in you My Documents folder. Normally this folder is on the desktop of your computer or in your Start menu. Many of these files are created by programs for use by you. If you installed a trial of something and it creates a file or folder in you My Documents folder, that file or folder will not usually be removed when you uninstall the software.

Another place files are stored are in the temporary folders on your computer. There are several different Temp folders:

  • C:\Temp
  • C:\Windows\Temp
  • C:\Documents and Settings\YourName\Local Settings\Temp

    *Warning: It is not recommended to remove shared files. Deleting the wrong file while trying to free up some hard disk space could bring your system to a screeching halt.

Another place programs place data is in the Registry. The Registry is where most of the system information, preferences, and settings for your computer and software are stored. If software is removed improperly, information pertaining to the program will remain in the Registry. Removing these orphaned keys can make your system faster and more stable.

*Warning: Modifying the Registry could possibly crash your computer or software. It is wise to back up your hard drive and Registry before modifying the Registry. Do not remove Registry entries for anything unless you are sure that they are not needed.

With a little detective work, you can find and remove unwanted files from your computer. You will end up with more free disk space and perhaps a more reliable and faster computer.

Of course, you must always be careful when removing files from your computer. If you mistakenly remove files that a program still uses, the program may not start again until you reinstall it. If you remove files that your operating system uses, you could potentially have a computer that will not start fully.

One Blue Avenue has specialists on staff that can help you with this task. A majority of the time after a Complete PC Clean-Up, your computer will run better, launch programs faster, crash less often, and receive fewer pop-ups while surfing the internet. Constant Pop-ups are a sign of a virus or spyware that has found it's way into your computer. Click here to learn a little about spyware.


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