Uninstalling a Windows program is not nearly as simple as it should be. On Android or Mac, all you need to do is remove or delete the program from the Applications folder. On Windows, you can’t just hit ‘Delete’ — you need to run the software’s uninstaller.
Yet, you might be surprised to learn that the ‘Uninstall a program’ option in the Windows Control Panel does not always completely remove it from your system. Traces like registry files or program folders may remain.
To get rid of an app once and for all, you need to use uninstallers that analyse all of a program’s connections and offer to delete each aspect: the program, its folders and files, and its registry entries. These tools often come with additional features, such as batch uninstalling and program sorting. And they are much easier to use than the Windows program.
There are so many third-party Windows uninstallers to choose from, however, that you might not know which one to get. So here are the right Windows uninstallers for your needs…
Portable, Lightweight & Batch Mode: IObit Uninstaller 2
The irony that most uninstallers need to be installed is not lost on IObit Uninstaller 2. So its developers made sure this app is a portable, lightweight, standalone EXE file. At just 1.47MB, you could easily carry it on a pen drive or even keep it in your Dropbox, as Jeffry suggested in his review.
The app is quick to start and list all the programs installed on your Windows machine, arranged by categories: All Programs, Toolbars (a cool feature!), Recently Installed, Large Programs and Windows Updates. You can further sort each category by name, size or install date, as well as search for software.
IObit Uninstaller 2 shines with its batch uninstall mode, letting you queue up multiple programs to be removed, one after another. The installation procedure first starts the app’s built-in uninstaller, after which you can run the ‘Powerful Scan’ to look for and remove registry entries and other associated files. You can also choose to create a System Restore Point before it starts, in case things go wrong. If the program doesn’t have a built-in uninstaller, you can use ‘Forced Uninstall’ to remove it cleanly.
The downside is that the ‘batch’ mode isn’t automated, so you still have to click through the uninstallation steps as you normally would.
To sum up, IObit Uninstaller 2‘s key features are:
- Portable, no install required
- Batch uninstaller to speed up process
- Auto-sorting of programs into categories
- Easy-to-use interface
Quick, Thorough & Easy: Revo Uninstaller
One of the most popular uninstallers around, Revo Uninstaller is the default choice for many geeks — and rightly so. In my test, I found it was the fastest and most thorough of all the uninstallers that didn’t have a real-time monitor.
Revo’s UI is a little outdated, but you can navigate it easily. When you remove a program, you can choose to run only the built-in uninstaller or also run quick/extended/deep scans of the hard drive and registry. This is at your own risk, but in all my years of using Revo, I have always used the deep-scanning Advanced mode and never once had it delete an important file mistakenly.
Revo Uninstaller also has a cool ‘Hunter Mode’ which puts a crosshair on your screen. In case a program isn’t showing up in the list but you can see its icon on your desktop, drag the crosshair to the icon to remove the program cleanly.
The Pro version of Revo Uninstaller contains features like Force Uninstall, Batch Uninstall and Real-Time Scanning. And at $39.25 for a single-computer license, it’s not worth it at all — especially when you see our last and best uninstaller.
To sum up, Revo Uninstaller‘s key features are:
- Gives users control over how deeply to scan for trace files, and which ones to remove
- Very good detection values
- ‘Hunter Mode’ makes it easy to delete programs
Real-Time, Robust: Comodo Programs Manager
Of all the uninstallers I tested for this article, Comodo Programs Manager is my favourite.
It includes an ‘active monitor’, which none of the others have. This means that Comodo is always running in the background and scanning for changes that any installation makes. So when you’re uninstalling an app, it doesn’t have to wait for a deep scan.
In my tests, Comodo was the fastest uninstaller and also found more registry files than its contenders.
Besides, Comodo Programs Manager has an easy-to-use interface that also lets you remove drivers, services and Windows updates. You can also ‘switch off’ built-in Windows features like Games, Microsoft .NET Framework, Internet Explorer, etc. And it has an auto-backup utility to reverse any damage caused by a mistaken uninstallation.
However, Comodo has two disadvantages with its active monitor. You can’t multi-task when installing a new program, or Comodo will associate wrong registry or file changes with it. I ended up losing an image file this way. And the real-time background monitor takes up precious computer resources. That said, these aren’t deal-breakers.
To sum up, Comodo Programs Manager‘s key features are:
- Real-time monitoring for better speed and accuracy
- Easy interface
- Ability to remove or stop built-in Windows services and features
Which One Is Right For You?
The best uninstaller for you depends upon what you want. If you are looking for a quick-fix, IObit Uninstaller 2 is great. If you want to run a deep scan and have some control over which files are deleted, Revo Uninstaller is the way to go. And if you want a robust solution at the cost of little resources and multi-tasking, then Comodo Programs Manager is brilliant.
So which one of these uninstallers seems like the best to you and why? Do you have any others that you would recommend over our solutions?