IT Employment compare

Five uninstallers that really work

Remove all traces of unwanted programs with the help of these uninstaller tools.

It never ceases to amaze me how many applications include built-in uninstallers, yet leave fragments behind when you remove them. Fortunately, you don't have to be at the mercy of an application's own uninstaller. A number of commercial uninstallers are available that do a good job cleaning up your computer. Here are five to consider.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Revo Uninstaller

When you launch Revo Uninstaller, it automatically displays a list of the applications it can uninstall (Figure A). However, this is far from being the software's only useful function. The Tools section provides access to commonly used operating system tools, such as the Registry Editor, Group Policy Editor, and the System Properties Sheet. Even better, the software offers an option for getting rid of junk files. This includes things like temporary files that were created upon opening Microsoft Office documents but that were never removed. The software also features something called Hunter Mode, in which you can drag a bull's-eye icon over a file or an icon and then click the mouse to remove that particular item. You can download a free trial of Revo Uninstaller.

Figure A

Revo Uninstaller

2: Your Uninstaller

Another uninstaller worth considering is Your Uninstaller. As with Revo Uninstaller, launching Your Uninstaller displays a list of the items that can be removed (Figure B). On my lab system, however, Your Uninstaller found significantly more software than Revo Uninstaller did.

Figure B

Your Uninstaller

In addition to its software removal capabilities, Your Uninstaller contains a disk cleaner, which gets rid of junk files. There is also a feature called Trace Erase, which helps protect your privacy by clearing your history.

My two personal favorite features are the File Shredder, which securely deletes files, and the Startup Manager. The Startup Manager allows you to control what gets launched at system startup. This feature could prove invaluable in cleaning malware infections. You can download a trial version of Your Uninstaller.

3: IObit Uninstaller

Like the other uninstallers, IObit Uninstaller starts by listing all the programs that can be uninstalled. Although this program lacks the bells and whistles of some of the other utilities, it has two features that make it worthwhile. One is the Forced Uninstall button, which is great for removing stubborn applications. The other is the way that IOBit Uninstaller categorizes applications. The software will tell you which applications are rarely used, recently installed, or consume a lot of disk space (Figure C). IOBit Uninstaller is free.

Figure C

IObit Uninstaller

4: Advanced Uninstaller Pro

Advanced Uninstaller Pro is a more comprehensive software removal application than some of the others. In addition to offering basic removal capabilities, this free tool can monitor the installation of an application to ensure that the application can be completely removed later on without leaving behind any fragments (Figure D). Advanced Uninstaller Pro also offers several specialized cleaning utilities that are designed to clean up things like the Windows Start menu, the registry, and even your fonts.

Figure D

Advanced Uninstaller Pro

5: Cleanse Uninstaller Pro

Cleanse Uninstaller Pro offers basic software removal capabilities, along with a number of other useful features. It includes a Force Uninstall option and a Startup Manager, as well as a junk finder. It also provides some more unusual features, such as registry backup capabilities (as well as the ability to do a system-level restore) and even a file burner that lets you burn files to disk prior to removing them (Figure E). You can download a free trial of Cleanse Uninstaller Pro.

Figure E

Cleanse Uninstaller Pro

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

30 comments
techlans
techlans

Nice collection of uninstallers.I know 4 of them and final one is new one to me.I also write the same article on my blog www.techlans.com

DammTools
DammTools

You missed the Ashampoo Uninstaller, which, im my opinion is one of the best uninstallers for Windows.

mike.laing
mike.laing

I never see Comodo Program manager mentioned in these article. It is wicked fast, as much so as Advanced Uninstaller is painfully slow. CPM also monitors installations even if you forget to specifically use it to install something, although it uses a reg and file scan to find leftovers in that case. It removes stuff that can't be forced be finishing the installations at next boot. I have had toolbars install with software, that I specifically unchecked, etc, and right away, I've used CPM to remove them, and there has never been a trace of anything shifty left over. It's like they never existed. It's got cleaner and junk removers, and reg cleaner function also, and I have never had the slightest problem but for one time, out of many dozens, where it froze up. But when I killed it with Task manager, when I got it killed, the uninstall had still happened, so the stall was only the GUI. Am I missing something, that I never see it reviewed or included? Thanks.

ejmfoley
ejmfoley

You reviewed Revo Uninstaller. At the end of your review, you have a link to download a free trial of Revo Uninstaller, implying that you have to pay after a time. Revo Uninstaller is free. There is no trial period. Revo Uninstaller Pro is a paid upgrade, and has a free trial period.

jeffgaron
jeffgaron

I saw a few comments wondering if any of these could be used on a USB stick (for IT people). AppRemover doesn't require any installation, so it can definitely be used on an external drive like a USB or CD.

HP Gaspar
HP Gaspar

Slim Clean unistaller from slimware utilities https://www.slimwareutilities.com/ . what I like about Slim cleaner is it works on new and old pc's and has a cloud apporach to uninstalling. It worked great on my machine and removed the bloat beautifully.

Kruton
Kruton

It's free but I suspect it uninstalled some things it wasn't supposed to. I haven't looked into it in detail.

fu(knoes
fu(knoes

It would of been informative to state if these programs needed to be installed themselves or if they can be run from a USB Drive (VERY handy for on site techs!) Otherwise - thanks for the heads up.

Tech77
Tech77

Have learned many, many things by reading Brien Posey's works, but I think a program I've relied upon (in one v. or another) since 2002 should have made this list; I find it especially useful when used to create before & after snapshots during the installation of new software. The program is AShampoo's UnInstaller 4; it contains many other useful tools & features, including a fairly comprehensive suite of file & folder deletion/cleaning tools, a utility for "undeleting" files, a "behind-the-senes" real-time defragmenter with a companion boot-time defragger for system files like the page file, a real-time Installation Monitor, the ability to manage fonts, Windows Services (ala Sysinternal's Autoruns, but perhaps even MORE facile), IE Add-ons, and System Restore points (going CCleaner one better, it allows the deletion of ANY SysRestorePt, including the latest one). The Registry Cleaner facilities are pretty useful as well. There's more, but this comment is large enough w/o going into more detail, and AShampoo's available documentation is extensive. One of the features many users may like best is the very reasonable price for the full-featured v. of Uninstaller, for AShampoo is famously flexible about pricing. Also, they'll even sell you multiple-year warranty & support that really works, again @ a pretty-reasonable price. The company WILL try and sell you more of their useful products (I'm also a fan of their CAD software), but they don't inundate you with emails and popups as do so many progams these days.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Would trust Revo Uninstaller only because they "recommend" [as per their web site] SpeedUpMyPC software. That software is fraudulent.

jeffgaron
jeffgaron

Another free uninstaller tool is AppRemover, which is designed for security applications (antivirus, antispyware, etc.). Check it out at http://www.appremover.com

MarkAtHome
MarkAtHome

Hi Brien -- I am a bit surprised at your list of uninstallers, but instead of dissing some choices, let me simply offer that I would place Total Uninstall & Revo at the top of the list. I am stunned, though, that you omitted Total Uninstall ( http://www.martau.com/ ) which is at least equal to Revo Uninstaller Pro and possibly superior. FWIW, I have habitually purchased multiple applications that accomplish the same thing, to compare without limitations, and uninstallers are no exception.

savedad
savedad

Can any of these utilities be used as a standalone on a utility USB stick? A lot of my support requires booting outside the OS... there's been more than one occasion where I would have killed for any of these apps!

SteveRMann
SteveRMann

A "review" without a conclusion or recommendation is just copying the sales text. If you had to pick just one for your system, which would it be and why?

RNR1995
RNR1995

Poll which is the Best?

tjsobieski
tjsobieski

I've been using Revo for quite some time, first the free version, and the Pro ( ZOMG ! I actually paid money for it ! ). I can't really praise it enough. I have it installed on 2 Win7 machines and it ( along with Iobit's Advanced System Care Pro https://www.trialpay.com/cart/?pp=fDfxf8f&c=5f57855 ) has saved my arse more than once.

Daddy Tadpole
Daddy Tadpole

I first used Revo (free version) to uninstall a try-it-and-see version of MS Office 2007 on V*sta. Residual items were stopping me from installing the paid version. It didn't work, I got my money back and am now using LO. Since then I have very successfully used Revo several times to clean up uninstallations of other applications. I've two questions: 1. What's the difference between uninstalling via Windows Control Panel and the uninstall program provided with some software? 2. Since reasonably effective third party uninstall software exists, why is it that the supplier of a major operating system can't do it properly using the built-in features?

kenbraswell
kenbraswell

After reading this blog article, tried the IObit program. Used it to remove several programs, one at a time (for results sampling afterward), rebooted after each. Going back in to registry and then file system, found numerous entries of the supposed uninstalled programs. More than just a few and not just obscure hidden entries. Did you really test your recommendations out, or maybe just posting from companies ad blurbs?

bjosephs
bjosephs

Adding to what tombeall pointed out, the free trial is for the Pro version which has all the tools the others are offering - installation monitoring, forced uninstall, file shredder, autostart manager... The Pro version also boasts of more advanced algorithms for determining left over registry entries, (something that was not mentioned regarding the others.) Although I'm a satisfied long-time user of Revo, I'm not advocating it over the others which I have not tried. However, for the sake of completeness I'm throwing this in.

tombeall
tombeall

Revo Uninstaller is FREE. Not just a free trial. The free trial is for the Pro version which you pay for. The free version does not have all the functions of PRO such as automatic updating.

AtlBo
AtlBo

I used Revo 4 or 5 years ago before it became popular. It was confusing to me. Advanced Uninstaller Pro recommended uninstalling the Windows installer, which I assume was a jab at humor from the creator of the program. I actually tried this to see what would happen by the way on a protected setup...not a good idea. I am using Comodo Programs Manager, and it seems reliable and safe. I don't get alot of advice about what to do from the program, but it hasn't failed me in 6 months of relatively heavy use... Much more is needed in the way of studies. Too bad apps like this and cleaners don't get the same treatment as A-V in that way... Echo mikelaing here...not sure why Comodo Programs Manager doesn't get mention...

tjsobieski
tjsobieski

"Would trust Revo Uninstaller only because they "recommend" [as per their web site] SpeedUpMyPC software. That software is fraudulent. " A) Because SpeedUpMyPC is fraudulent ( and it is ) That's why you "trust" ? B) Don't think they actually "recommend" , it's a paid ad

kenlee7
kenlee7

I happen to agree. TechRepublic reviews lots of products. Why not give a rating to each?

JLogan3o13
JLogan3o13

Unfortunately, it is not a limitation of the Windows Installer Service (msiexec) as much as it is the software companies. I have been repackaging for a very long time, and unfortunately the tendancy toward laziness when building an install package gets worse every year. I don't know how many times I have questioned dev teams from top companies (Adobe, Oracle, even MS) WHY can't you simply package your product in such a way that it removes whatever it lays down on the system?! The answers are usually the same: "the user might be performing an upgrade" "the user might want to reinstall at a later date" - but it all comes down to laziness in my mind. If packaged properly, msiexec will install and uninstall every file, shortcut, reg entry, system variable, com object, etc. that you put down. The tool can unfortunately only do so much when developers put little to no effort into it.

essex133
essex133

I agree with Daddy Tadpole - Why can't Windows uninstall programs fully, including all their registry entries?

tjsobieski
tjsobieski

Try Revo. After running the OEM uninstaller, it can scan ( at 3 levels ) for leftover nasty bits and delete, or not, as you see fit.

rainfrest
rainfrest

Why do you say SpeedUpMyPC is fraudulent?