How to remove software leftovers

kennkimari@gmail.com' By: Kenneth Kimari
6 minute read

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It’s a common practice for all computer users to install software programs regularly. As you know, whenever you install a piece of software, it installs several files and probably Registry entries on the system in order to work efficiently. And this is fine as long as you are using the program, but the problem comes when you opt to uninstall it.

To remove a program in Windows, we normally uninstall it from the Control Panel but quite often this does not completely remove all the entries of the file. Remnants of the old program can remain on your hard drive.

Entries for the old programs can also remain in the Registry, slowing down the performance of your machine. These leftovers may not pose a major threat but they tend to slow down your machine so there is no point of keeping them. There are various methods that you can use to get rid of these leftovers. In this guide, we are going to discuss two of the most commonly used methods that you can also use to completely remove the software leftovers.


Method 1: Manually remove the software leftovers

This method is convenient as it doesn’t involve installations of third-party applications. It is the method you can use to manually clean entries from the Registry. Care should be taken when cleaning entries from the Registry as a small mistake here might adversely affect the functioning of your machine. We are going to use Mozilla as an example in this tutorial.

Step 1: Uninstall the software using Control Panel

To do this, open the Control Panel, double-click on the Add/Remove programs, choose the program you want to uninstall and click on the Uninstall button. This will remove the program.

software leftovers

Step 2: Delete the remaining files and folders

Even though you have successfully uninstalled the program, some fragments of the file may be left in a few of the system folders. To remove them, you’ll need to check the program files and app data. Check the following files for leftovers.

%programfiles%
%appdata%

Just type the above text one at a time in the search box and press enter. It will open the folders directly. If you find any folder with the name of the program you just uninstalled, delete it.

uninstall_software_leftovers_2

Step 3: Remove software keys from the Windows Registry

You will need to be very careful when performing this procedure. When you uninstall a software program, in most cases, the uninstaller does not remove the program from the Windows Registry. This increases the Windows Registry size. To completely remove the software, you need to remove its key from the Windows Registry. Follow the steps below to remove the program keys.

1. Open the Start menu, type regedit in the search box and press ENTER. It will launch the Registry Editor.

2. Type the following keys one by one:

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftware
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWARE
HKEY_USERS.DEFAULTSoftware

3. Look for a key with the name of the program you just removed. If you find a key, delete it. You can also use CTRL+F to search for such keys.

uninstall_software_leftovers_5

Note: It’s important to do a backup before deleting anything from the Windows registry so that if something goes wrong, you can restore the system to its earlier state. To do a backup, right click on the key you want to delete and select ‘Export’. It will save a .REG file with the backup of that key.

Step 4: Empty Temp Folder

The final step is to clean the Temp folder. This is the folder that contains all the temporary files and cleaning it is safe. To empty the folder, open the Start menu and type the following commands one by one:

%temp%
temp

This will open the Temp folders. You can now empty them. If the system displays an error message when deleting some files, leave them. The files might be in use by Windows services or some running software.

how to uninstall software leftovers

After following all the steps above, you will be able to completely uninstall a program without leaving a trace on your machine.


Method 2: Use Third-party Software

The manual method described above may be tricky and difficult especially if you have never used the Registry Editor in the past. In such a case, you can always install third-party software to completely remove all the remnants of old software with just one system scan. There are many free and paid uninstaller programs that can get the job done instantly. Below find just a few of the tools you can use.

IObit Uninstaller 7 Free (recommended)

IObit Uninstaller is a fast cleaner for your computer that works without any unwanted programs, Windows apps and plug-ins. It provides a simplified uninstall and auto leftover scan to ensure a thorough removal.

Below you can read the most important features of this software:

  • IObit Uninstaller 7 Free removes unwanted programs in order to free up disk space and smooth the PC’s overall performance.
  • This software detects all malicious programs including adware in real time, and it allows you to get rid of them easily.
  • Considering that regular uninstall is not able to delete programs altogether, by using IObit Uninstaller 7 Free, you will be able to automatically remove these files with 120% faster scanning.
  • You can count on IObit Uninstaller 7 Free even for the leftover file that cannot be deleted by other uninstallers.

You can get the software for free, and it’s good to know that it’s compatible with all versions of Windows.


Revo Uninstaller Pro (recommended)

revo-uninstaller-pro

Revo Uninstaller Pro is a paid program but it comes with all the features you need to effectively remove software leftovers. The Uninstaller tool lists all the installed programs and components for all user and current accounts. With a context menu and a choice of view, you can see all the program information including registry entries, program properties, and links to manufacturer’s website. Revo Uninstaller Pro uses advanced algorithms that are fast, precise, and effective in searching for leftovers of Windows services, file extensions, drivers, program settings, and more. And for your convenience, a portable version is available.


Absolute Uninstaller (Freeware)

absolute-uninstaller

Absolute Uninstaller is an enhanced tool for Windows that you can use to remove all the software leftovers. The program can wipe off all the junk files in seconds after uninstalling the software. Absolute Uninstaller offers a more user-friendly way to remove software leftovers and improve your computer efficiency. What’s more, Absolute Uninstaller supports batch uninstall meaning you can even remove multiple applications in just a single click. It also allows you to make backups so you will never lose important programs in case of mistakes.

GlarySoft also has a very useful Registry repair tool to scan computer, clean registry junks and fix registry errors. It performs comprehensive and deep analysis for Windows Registry, and repair invalid entries or references that cause computer freezing, system crashes, instability, blue screen, and PC slowdowns.


GeekUninstaller (Free version)

geekuninstaller

GeekUninstaller takes care of problematic programs very well and can even uninstall programs that other programs can’t. Since the tool is portable, you can download it on a USB to help fix buggy PC’s on the go. The tool performs a deep scanning and removes all the junk files and other software leftovers in a very short time. It also features an efficient user interface and instant startup. GeekUninstaller offers both clean uninstall and forced uninstall.

You can download GeekUninstaller from the tool’s official page. A free version is available for personal use, while the Geek Uninstaller Pro version can be purchased at $24.95 lifetime license.

Compared to the manual methods, third-party programs are easier, faster, and safer to use. They also come with a friendly interface that allows you to see even the registry entries as well as the link to manufacturer’s website. They also come in handy when you want to uninstall windows programs in bulk.

Have you used any of the methods described above? Let us hear your experiences in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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