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

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...





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


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Comments

  • Thanks VG!

    I thought that I had seen that method elsewhere, but your tutorial on it by far passes what the other tech said.

    Thanks Again

  • Your tutorial is such an interested one, thank you for such a help you have rendered to ppl like me. Remain blessed.

  • This absolutely, positively works. Thank you so much !! Now I can play demo games over and over !!

  • Thank you very much! I run Secunia PSI on my computer which tells me if any programs are insecure. Even though I had uninstalled Mozilla Firefox, Secunia PSI still recognized it as being there since pieces of the program were still in my computer. I'm not computer savvy, but your instructions were easy enough for even me to follow. After going through all of your steps, it disappeared from Secunia PSI. Thanks again for your help!

  • Totally wooooooooooooooooooooooooooorked...awesome job guys

  • Thank you very much, very helpful article.

  • Thanks so much for your wonderful tips.. Even a computer noob like me is able to clear the s**t that my parents accidentally installed.. Thanks once again.! :)

  • thank you so much for very clear instructions....i was able to remove ....your file downloader that i have no clue how it was on my pc..but started to bring up a box on start up...saying... to up date important.....? and i removed conduit and bing and bother too.....BUT the other day....

    i had used another persons instructions on utube and not realizing that ( x86) had many software programs in it ..................i clicked on delete and it started to delete many files at a fast rate......not sure how i managed that ?? ... don't know how many or what it deleted but my pc is working ok....but it still had the youfile downloader at start up...

    so i am without the pop up yourfiledownloader but wonder because i empted alot by mistake...should i set my pc 8.1to start new ???i think it says u can do that one time...

    thank you for such great info . wish i found this site before i made the error..

  • thank you so much I finally get rid of all the programs and now my laptop is working fast again than you so much again!!!

  • Thank you so much...
    your step-by-step process help me to fixed myself.

  • Thank you so much.. You're tutorial on this is by far the best.. Keep it up. :D

  • WOW, thank you sooo much!

    Feels like my old laptop was brought back to life after getting rid of all the stuff there was that I didn't even know there was.

    Kudos and a great year 2015 ♥

  • Thank you very much it was very useful also I would recommend disconnecting from the Internet when un-installing any suspicious programs.

  • Fantastic! Much more thorough and complete way of removing annoying leftovers than anything I have seen out there. THANK YOU!

  • I am in love with you right now .... i've been trying to get rid of some software for so long .... and now its gone .... YESSSSSSSSSS

  • YOU ARE A LIFE-SAVER! THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU :)

  • I have been receiving invitations to update Yahoo search (engine?), but I don't have it installed. This is further complicated by the fact that the message states that "by clicking OK you agree to install Chromium, set Yahoo provided search as your default search". I don't want either of these, but I can't remove the message box unless I reboot, I have removed all references to Yahoo but one from the registry, but that one can't be edited. It is in "processinclusionlist>YahooMessenger.exe" and when I try to remove Yahoo from the list I get a message saying that it can't be removed or edited. Can you please help me.

    Yours hopefully

  • VG

    ^^ Please post your HijackThis log file in following topic first:

    http://www.askvg.com/is-your-system-infected-with-a-virus-spyware-adware-trojan/

  • Thank you! I has removed registry from regedit.exe.

  • Thank you!! vg. i hav heard previous but forget that u remember me again. and i followed ur steps .. Thanks again....!!

  • sir,
    thank u for the informations provided in ur blog. really useful. i am aged 67 and
    having very limited knowledge on using windows, email and multimedia.
    sir i beg ur excuses for seeking a advise for a problem i am facing in my system.
    system: assembled with core 2 duo intel processor with 3 GB RAM(1+2)
    and 150 gb hard disc.
    i was using windows 7 ultimate till a few months ago. when i tried to install Kaspersky internet security 2017, it refused due to noncompatible OS and tried to instal windows 7 ultimate SP1 successfully and then KIS 2017 trialware and it is functioning still. i could not activate windows 7 sp1 with the available product key.
    i tried to reinstall the same OS, when there is already an windows 7 ultimate sp1 (trial period), same version of OS - windows 7 ultimate SP1- has been installed in D: in addition to the same @ C:.
    I had two OSs of the same version one in C: and another in D:.
    i used msconfig>boot and removed the OS@D: from startup and boot.
    i am running the system with windows 7 ultimate sp1 trialware in C:.
    another OS is still in my D: occupying valuable space and I like to totally uninstal the OS from D: & the system and remove the all related registry entries.
    how to do this very easily?
    thank in advance.

    Raman
    21/04/2017

  • VG

    ^^ You can safely format D: drive to remove the OS from it. Since the boot loader files are stored on C: drive, you'll be able to boot into Windows 7 installed on C: drive.

  • Hey,
    Actually I was trying to uninstall the setup for net protector antivirus it has been uninstalled properly from control panel and I have done everything which tutorial suggested but still there is a folder of npav in program files with exe and dll files in it . And I am not able to delete them because of which I am not to install the updated version. Please help me with it.
    Thanks.

  • VG

    ^^ Try Unlocker:

    http://www.askvg.com/download-unlocker-file-unlocking-utility-for-windows/

    You can also try to take ownership of the folder and then try to delete it:

    http://www.askvg.com/add-take-ownership-option-in-file-folder-context-menu-in-windows-vista/
    http://www.askvg.com/guide-how-to-take-ownership-permission-of-a-file-or-folder-manually-in-windows/

  • I have done all the steps that you showed.All but the last one.The temp set.I'm nervous about this one.Should I delete all the temp folders or just the ones from the uninstalled files?I see my antivirus program temp folder.It says it is empty.Should I delete it also.Thanks for your help.It is greatly appreciated.

  • VG

    ^^ Temp folder contains temporary files which are absolutely safe to delete.

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