How to Completely Uninstall / Remove a Software Program in Windows without using 3rd Party Software?

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Generally all computer users install various software programs regularly. Sometimes they keep them and sometimes they decide to remove them.

To remove a program in Windows, we uninstall it from Control Panel but many times the default uninstallation utility provided by the program doesn't remove the program completely. It lefts some entries in Windows Registry, some files in various folders in your hard disk drives.

These leftovers might slow down your system and there is no point to keep them in your system.

There are many 3rd party software like Revo uninstaller, etc are available on Internet which claim to completely uninstall a software program in Windows but sometimes these software also fail to completely uninstall a software from your system.

We here at AskVG always try to do the things ourselves so today in this tutorial, we are going to share some easy to use steps which will help you in completely uninstall a software program in Windows.

So without wasting time lets start the tutorial. We have taken Mozilla Firefox as an example in this tutorial:

We have divided this tutorial in 4 steps:

  • Uninstall Using Control Panel
  • Delete Remaining Files and Folders of the Program
  • Remove Software Keys from Windows Registry
  • Empty Temp Folder

STEP 1: Uninstall Software Using Control Panel

First thing first! Uninstall the software using Windows Control Panel.

Windows XP and earlier:

Open Control Panel, double-click on "Add/Remove Programs", select the program name and click on Uninstall button. It'll remove it.

Windows Vista and later:

Open Control Panel, click on "Programs and Features", select the program name and click on Uninstall button.

Uninstall_Software_Using_Control_Panel.png

STEP 2: Delete Remaining Files and Folders of the Program

Even though you have uninstalled the software using Control Panel, some files of this program might still remain in a few system folders.

To delete these leftovers, you'll need check following folders:

%programfiles%
%appdata%

If you find any folder with the name of the software program which you uninstalled using 1st step, delete it.

NOTE: You just need to type the above mentioned text in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter. It'll open the folders directly.

Program Files folder:

Delete_Software_Folder_from_Program_Files.png

Application Data folder:

Delete_Software_Folder_from_Application_Data.png

NOTE 2: 64-bit system users will also need to check "C:\Program Files (x86)" folder. Here we assume your Windows is installed in C: drive. If you installed Windows in any other drive, replace C: with that drive letter.

STEP 3: Remove Software Keys from Windows Registry

You'll have to be very careful while following this step. Follow this step only if you are comfortable with Windows Registry and if you have used Registry Editor in past.

When you uninstall a software program, many times its entry in Windows Registry is not deleted by the uninstaller. It might increase Windows Registry size.

To completely uninstall the software, you'll also need to delete its key from Windows Registry.

1. Type regedit in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following keys one by one:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software

64-bit system users will also need to check following extra key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node

Once you go to the above mentioned keys, look for a key with the name of your uninstalled software. If you find a key, delete it.

If you get an error while deleting a Registry key such as "Cannot delete key: Error while deleting key", you'll need to take ownership of the key as mentioned in following tutorial:

[Guide] How to Take Ownership (Permission) of a Registry Key in Windows?

Sometimes the key name might be based on the company name or developer name so if you suspect a key, expand it and check whether its related to the uninstalled software program. If yes, you can delete it.

Delete_Software_Key_from_Windows_Registry.png

PS: Make sure to take a backup before deleting anything from Windows Registry so that you can restore it later if something goes wrong. To take backup, right-click on the key which you are going to delete and select "Export". It'll save a .REG file containing the backup of that key.

PS2: Expert users can also find all occurrence of the key with the name of uninstalled software using "Ctrl+F" and delete them. You'll have to be very cautious for it. Delete the key only if you are absolutely sure that the key was created by the uninstalled software.

STEP 4: Empty Temp Folder

At last you can also empty Temp folder which contains temporary files and cleaning this folder is absolutely safe.

To empty Temp folder, type following one by one in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter:

%temp%
temp

It'll open Temp folders. You can empty them. If Windows shows errors while deleting a few files, leave them. These files might be used by some running software or Windows services.

Empty_Temp_Folder.png

That's it. After following the above mentioned steps, you'll be able to completely uninstall and remove a software program from Windows.

If you have any question or suggestion, feel free to post them in your comment...





Posted in: Software, Troubleshooting, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows XP


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