Using a computer is not without its frustrations – things crash, load too slow, or behave in erratic ways. After all, a modern computer is a very complex beast. The final product we’re using represents co-operation and communication between hundreds of different hardware and software companies all trying to cram their ideas into a small box to make it better.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t….and when it doesn’t, that’s where the various “cleaners” and “optimizers” try to help out and make it all better. Advanced Uninstaller Pro is one such cleaner, and today we’re going to be looking at it in more detail. Despite the “Pro” in the name, it’s actually free – and it earned a spot on our Best Windows Software page, so let’s see why.
First things first. I’m sad to say, but you absolutely cannot Next-Next-Next your way through this installer, or you’ll find yourself with a toolbar you weren’t expecting in the end:
The screen above shows the trick Advanced Uninstaller Pro tries to pull during installation. I must say this is particularly annoying behavior in a tool that claims to “clean” your system – if you’re trying to help me remove stuff, why are you cluttering my system with yet another toolbar? Still, you can just untick all of the checkboxes in this page and continue.
There’s one more thing you should note:
This is a less troubling issue, and some users may actually like this behavior. Advanced Uninstaller Pro wants to pin itself to your taskbar automatically. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still, you should decide whether or not you want it pinned to your taskbar.
Apart from these two annoyances, installation is a straightforward affair.
Launching Advanced Uninstaller PRO reveals what happens when designers take the already-dubious Modern aesthetic a few steps too far – you get an interface that looks like it was designed with toddlers in mind.
Large, brightly-colored rectangles don’t exactly inspire confidence in a system-mechanic sort of tool. Add the inexplicably-Spanish text (I’m on a system set for English-US), and you get a thoroughly dubious first impression. Still, it’s on our Best Windows Software page, so it must be doing something right. Let’s be systematic, and start with the General Tools section.
That section reveals a wealth of useful tools. I’m not going to test all of them, but I’m curious about the Font Manager (not many system cleaners offer font-related functionality), and would like to see the Uninstaller as well, of course. Let’s walk through those.
This is what the Font Manager looks like. Sorry for the tiny screenshot, but there’s no way to resize the window. It’s pretty interesting. As you may know, every font you’ve got installed is loaded into memory (something covered in this Microsoft article). Font Manager lets you temporarily disable fonts (or outright uninstall them). Uninstalling fonts isn’t very exciting, but being able to preview fonts and quickly disable them is a compelling feature indeed, especially if you do design work and have thousands of fonts installed.
My only wish for this section is that it would let you create “bundles” of fonts, so I can quickly enable and disable all artsy display fonts when I’m not working on a title graphic, for example.
Next, let’s look at Advanced Uninstaller’s Pro raison d’etre – the Uninstall Programs section:
We see several interesting things here. The most innovative part of this section is the very bottom, where you see a community-generated star rating for the currently selected application, and can click through for a review. It says there’s one review for the C++ redistributable I’ve selected – let’s see what the users had to say:
Clicking the Read Review button actually pops open a browser page with a forum topic dedicated to this application, and a very matter-of-fact summary of what it is. Not bad, but not astounding, either. Most of the applications on my list had no reviews. This effort to make software uninstallation software is a good idea, and it reminds me of what Soluto is trying to do, too. You can also write your own reviews, but you do need a free account to have them published (that makes sense to me).
Now, on to actually uninstalling a program. I’ve picked the Origin gaming client to remove, because honestly, I’m not a big fan. Upon clicking Uninstall, Advanced Uninstaller Pro confirms my selection and asks if I want it to follow the removal with a registry scan for leftovers:
Clicking Uninstall launches Origin’s native uninstaller, as it should. Once I was done with the uninstaller, the registry and hard-drive scan took about ten seconds on my system, and located 21.7MB of leftovers Origin left behind:
Clicking Next revealed a detailed list of registry entries slated for removal:
By default, no entry is selected. This is a very good thing: Advanced Uninstaller Pro won’t take responsibility for messing up your registry. It can only suggest what it thinks you might want to remove, but the final decision (and responsibility) lies with you. The entries Origin left behind are firewall policies, an “Origin Games” branch, and a few other innocuous entries. I didn’t bother removing any of them.
Next, came the files Origin left behind, taking up 21MB on my not-very-large SSD. This is far more interesting for me:
A zillion “AppCrash_Origin.exe” files (gee, thanks, EA Games!) and “NonCritical_Origin.exe” files, followed by a bunch of Temp files, and an entire folder full of files Origin decided to leave behind in my AppData\Roaming directory. This is where Advanced Uninstaller Pro really earned its keep: These files are pure garbage, and I merrily selected them all and removed them. Yay for free space, boo for EA Games.
File and Registry Tools
After looking at the “meat” of the application, let’s breeze through some of its other sections. Here’s the File and Registry Tools screen:
Again, it’s a mixed bag in terms of functionality. Registry cleaners are often useless. There’s no real performance gain to be had, and they sometimes even break things. Our own Chris published an excellent piece explaining this – Using Registry Cleaner: Does Is It Really Make A Difference? If you’re thinking of using any sort of Registry Cleaner or Optimizer (including the ones shown above), you should really go read that piece first. Maybe some day these useless “utilities” will go away.
On a more positive note, the duplicate file finder may prove more useful, as may the File Shredder if you have no other way to securely wipe sensitive information.
There’s More, But You Get the Point
Basically, Advanced Uninstaller Pro does merit a spot on our Best Windows Software list. No, it’s not perfect. It looks like a toy, and its installer tries to trick you into setting up a toolbar (boo!). But its included uninstaller is handy enough, and its font manager is something I haven’t seen on other system utilities. It would have been better if its makers could have resisted the temptation to load it with crappy sections that don’t really enhance your system (registry cleaners/optimizers), but even as it is, you could make good use of it.
Just don’t take it at face value, and think about what each section does before unleashing it on your trusty computer.