Tech & Work

Using FileMap to get rid of annoying DLLs

Step-by-step instruction to installing and using FileMap

Those of you who frequently read my columns know that I am constantly reviewing various software applications. One of the problems with reviewing so much software is that sometimes uninstalling an application that I have finished reviewing fails to uninstall all of the application’s components. Often, there are DLL files left behind, and my test systems quickly become cluttered with unnecessary files. Fortunately, a freeware utility called FileMap claims to be able to change all that. Let's see how it does.

Acquiring FileMap
FileMap is a freeware utility that you can download from the FileMap Web page. If you are wondering about the strange URL, FileMap’s author manufactures dog kennels in Australia but writes software in his spare time.

When I downloaded FileMap, there were two things that I noticed right away. First, the entire download consists of a mere 106 KB. The file downloaded faster than I could blink. The other thing that I noticed was a large banner on the Web site just above the download link. The banner states that the software makes no changes to your system’s registry, is completely nonintrusive, and is free from adware and spyware. Seeing a statement like this is very refreshing in a time when adware and spyware are becoming so common, and it made me feel good about downloading the software.

Installing FileMap
When I extracted the files contained within the downloaded ZIP file, I found an executable file and a README.TXT file. When I double-clicked on the executable file, I was presented with a screen reaffirming that the software was freeware and that it consisted of the full working version and contained no adware or spyware.

I clicked Next to clear this screen and the software prompted me for an installation path. I accepted the default path by clicking Next and the software informed me that the path did not currently exist and asked if I would like to create it. I clicked the Yes button and the necessary files were extracted and copied. The entire process completed very quickly. Upon completion, I was presented with an Extraction Complete message, which I closed by clicking the Finish button.

After the Setup wizard completed, the software ran a quick check to see if my system contained the necessary Visual Basic 6 run time files. According to the software’s Web site, the software will not run without the Visual Basic 6 run time files. Specifically, the software depends on the MSVBVM60.DLL file. The software’s Web site indicates that the files were not included with the software because most systems already have them, but that you can acquire the necessary files from the Microsoft Web site should you need them. My test system was running Windows XP Professional and already had the necessary files.

This screen also gave me the option of creating a shortcut to the software on the Start menu. When I clicked the option to create a shortcut on the Start menu, I was presented with a screen that allowed me to choose the shortcut’s folder name and location. I went with the defaults and exited the Setup program.

Running FileMap
Once FileMap was configured, the entire application consumed only 330 KB of hard disk space. When I went to launch the software via the Start menu, I noticed that the FileMap folder contained the application’s shortcut, but also a couple of help files, a license file, and an uninstaller. I selected the FileMap command to launch the application. When the FileMap application launches, you will see the screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A
Here is the main FileMap interface.

Looking at Figure A, you will notice a couple of things. Toward the top middle portion of the interface is a set of radio buttons that allow you to choose between Windows and System. If you select System (which is the default choice), FileMap will show you the contents of the %SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32 folder. If you select Windows, FileMap will show you the contents of the %SYSTEMROOT% folder. You can also specify your own file path in the space provided.

Once you have chosen the location that you want to monitor, click the Save button. When you do, you will see a pop-up message explaining that the file list was compiled at a certain date and time and that the list’s contents do not automatically refresh. You can use the window’s Refresh button to refresh the file list if necessary or click Continue to save the list. When saving, you can make a note as to what the list’s purpose is. For example, while I am writing this article, I am uninstalling an old application. Therefore, I will call my list Before Uninstall.

After creating the file list, I cleaned some old programs off of my hard disk and rebooted the system. When the system rebooted, I created another list of the files in the %SYSTEMROOT% folder and saved the list with the comment After Uninstall. Without me having to do anything, though, the software was able to identify that there had been 1902 files in my system folder earlier, but that there were now only 1894 files present, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
FileMap picked up on the difference in the number of files in my %SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32 folder after I removed a few applications.

Finally, I clicked the System button to compare the files in my two lists. I was presented with a screen that showed the text files that I had created earlier. If I hovered over a text file, the software would display the description that I had associated with the file. Now, I simply selected both files and clicked the Compare Two Lists button. At this point, the software presented me with a list of the files that were now missing from my system. You can see an example of this in Figure C.

Figure C
FileMap compares the differences between the lists that you create.

Although I used FileMap to show which files were missing after I uninstalled a few applications, you would normally run FileMap prior to installing an application. You could then see what files the application places on your system. Since you know which files the application uses, it would make it easy to verify that the application’s files were really gone when you uninstalled the application.

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