How To Uninstall Applications Efficiently And Remove Obsolete Files

Stefan Neagu 29-05-2009

cleanIf there’s something Windows and Mac users share, it’s the problem of uninstalling applications – and removing the debris left over.


Most uninstallers on Windows don’t remove everything, and often times they leave behind orphaned registry keys, file type associations, icons or even entire folders.

If Mac users have it easy, a simple drag and drop into the AppCleaner 10 Essential Mac Apps To Install After Formatting v2 If you've formatted your hard disk recently, you'll always require a reminder about which applications to get back. Read More , there are lots of alternatives for Windows users which range from ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’.

I’ve found two that are – just nice.

Piriform CCleaner


Piriform CCleaner, available as freeware, scores high points all around with a simple interface and a complete set of features. CCleaner will:

  • Search the computer and remove obsolete system files.
  • Delete browser history, cookies and cache for all the major browsers.
  • Search the registry for problems, back it up and fix it.
  • Uninstall applications, rename and remove entries from “˜Add/Remove Applications’.
  • Remove or disable start-up items.
  • Automatically update itself if you allow it.

CCleaner is in my opinion, the best choice at the moment if you’re looking for an application to keep the cruft under control. I run CCleaner on my Windows XP SP3 machine almost weekly and every time I do, it removes at least 50MB of unnecessary files as well as a few registry keys.

Revo Uninstaller


Revo Uninstaller, although it has a more advanced uninstaller routine, comes in second because the interface is slightly clunky when compared to CCleaner. In addition to removing applications and cleaning the registry, Revo Uninstaller also has:

  • “˜Browser Cleaner’ that removes traces of web surfing.
  • “˜Microsoft Office Cleaner’ that clears the recent documents history.
  • “˜Windows Cleaner’ that removes cache and history files from Explorer, such as Recent Documents.
  • “˜Evidence Remover’ that overwrites free space to clean tracks of already deleted files and an “˜Unrecoverable Delete’.

The “˜Hunter Mode’, specific to Revo Uninstaller, enables you to choose the application you want to remove with the mouse – which is useful if the program you’re trying to remove doesn’t show up in the Add/Remove Programs list.


In order to write this article, I’ve also tested Absolute Uninstaller, Safarp, Perfect Uninstaller and MyUninstaller. I didn’t include these alternatives in the article because they’re not worth your time – either they’re worse than the integrated Windows application or they require you to upgrade to the so-called premium version.

Not impressed by either apps? At MakeUseOf, there’s always another choice. Check out these articles for other popular uninstallers and security apps:

As always, I’d like to hear from you in the comments. Which application do you think is better? None? Suggest one for us then!

Related topics: Browsing History, Uninstaller.

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  1. Mark King
    October 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I have to give it a try and see.

  2. Shane
    July 12, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I am yet to find an uninstaller thet removes "ideal DVD to Avi converter" Fully and resets the trial.

  3. Chris
    May 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    I also use CCleaner and I'd strongly recommend it. I have removed junk of up to 600MB at a time.

    It also has a registry scanner which is great too - many people don't trust registry scanners because they can mess up your registry, but its very trustworthy and does a good job.

    The 'Hunter Mode' in Revo Uninstaller sounds interesting, I'll check that out, thanks.

  4. Samson
    May 30, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Total Uninstaller, 100% clean up everything, even reset program trial period.

  5. lula
    May 30, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I use Your Uninstaller, it just does a great job.

  6. Chris
    May 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    For Windows in particular...

  7. Chris
    May 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Do any of these offer batch uninstall? I have been rather lazy in terms of removing old software package, and would benefit from the ability to select multiple applications to remove without having to sit in front of the screen to click through them.

    • Stefan Neagu
      June 13, 2009 at 9:28 am

      No, I don't think so.

  8. Haplo
    May 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    So, Revo is better but because it's ugly it scores 2nd?

    Your article kinda suggests that.

    • Stefan Neagu
      June 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

      No, CCCleaner is better because it has a better interface.

  9. alexandrojv
    May 29, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    how about using Total Uninstall, I think it works best!

    • Photis
      July 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm

      Can you confirm whether Total Uninstall makes any mistakes in the registry when it uninstalls a program? The only program I feel safe with (at the moment) that will not cause me any registry problems is CCleaner. I've been using Revo for a few months now but I can't give a 100% recommendation quite yet. I need to run Revo for a few more months before I can say that it definitely won't cause problems in the registry.