Tech & Work

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.

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